The spectre of global warming often evokes images of widespread drought but this is not the case. The predictions have always been for changes in precipitation. Some areas will receive more rainfall and others less. Unfortunately, the major broadacre cereal belts around the globe seem destined to become drier while many tropical and subtropical regions will become much wetter. In my region of SE QLD we have had the wettest year in recorded history and the torrential rain continues unabated amidst widespread flooding (an area the size of Germany and France combined, is currently underwater).
Growing becomes much more difficult in these extremes. In this region alone we have seen macadamia orchards devastated by Phytophthora, strawberry crops decimated by grey mould and the local ginger industry has been brought to its knees with unprecedented outbreaks of Pythium. In most cases, the growers farming biologically have fared best and it has served to demonstrate that when Nature turns nasty, those working with her do so much better than those working against a natural system. This article is designed to provide tips and strategies to help counter the wet.
Help from “The Second Sun”
Fulvic acid is the single most valuable input in low sunlight conditions as it has been shown to sponsor photosynthesis even in the absence of sunlight. Repeated studies, including those by Canadian scientist Dr Vladimir Vasilenko, have reported chlorophyll increases (and associated improvement in photosynthesis and subsequent yield) following applications of fulvic acid. I was recently consulting on a large golf course in Kuala Lumpur where I was informed of a miracle product that promoted grass growth in shady areas. It was very expensive and veiled in secrecy but further investigation revealed that it was simply overpriced fulvic acid that was acting as a second sun. The mechanism for this fascinating phenomenon is not yet fully understood but it appears that this natural acid, which was originally created via photosynthesis, somehow sponsors the biochemistry responsible for this process.
Fulvic acid, of course, offers a myriad of other benefits relative to wet conditions. It is a powerful natural chelating agent, which promotes rapid uptake of nutrients that might otherwise leach. It is also the most powerful promotant of the bacteria that create the aggregates responsible for crumb structure in the soil. This highly desirable structure prevents water logging and puddling and allows easy access to oxygen (it is a lack of oxygen in waterlogged soils that results in the nitrogen losses associated with denitrification). Soil enzymes can also be stabilised and inactivated by fulvic acid. Wet conditions and the associated anaerobic conditions favour pathogens that are not oxygen dependent. Pathogens often release enzymes to break down the plant’s defense system. These enzymes can bind to fulvic and humic acids neutralising the negatives.
A good strategy involves 500 grams of NTS Fulvic Acid Powder™ applied via fertigation or foliar during periods of water stress. The most biologically active forms of fulvic acids are those derived from humates called leonardite. The high performance NTS product is the only agricultural fulvic acid in Australia, to our knowledge, that is leonardite-based (although there are some human health products available of comparable quality). Interestingly, if you Google fulvic acid, you will find around 27,000 links, the majority of which are linked to the remarkable therapeutic qualities attributed to the human health grade version.
Rescue Remedy For Rapid Recovery
In Holland, several years ago, local NTS distributors discovered that stressed plants responded particularly well to a specific combination of three NTS products. After researching their findings we decided to formulate these three inputs, at the proven percentages, to create a single problem solver. I must admit I never even considered the implications of colloquial interpretation when we named the product “Root & Shoot™”. It’s too late for a name change at this point but at least it brings a smile to many faces. Root & Shoot™ is ideal to reduce the stress and associated problems due to water logging. One of the key components of Root & Shoot™ is our popular soluble seaweed powder, Tri-Kelp™. Kelp is a much researched rescue remedy and this unique combination of three seaweed species outperforms single species products. Root & Shoot™ is applied at 5 litres per hectare as a foliar fertiliser and can offer rapid stress relief via enhanced photosynthesis and enzyme metabolism.
Stabilising the Leachables
I have graphic memories of a client who had applied a full corrective blend several weeks prior to planting. Ten days of torrential rain prompted him to retest his soils to ascertain any potential nutrient losses. It was a real eye-opener to see how much of his expensive fertiliser had been lost to leaching. Nitrogen and potassium are the most expensive inputs and his levels of these two minerals were actually lower than they were before he had fertilised.
The other nutrients missing in action were sulfur and boron.
The key to avoiding losses of all four of these highly leachable nutrients is to stabilise them with humates. NTS Soluble Humate Granules™ can be combined with planting blends at rates of just 5% (5 kg of humates per 100 kg of fertiliser) to stabilise the minerals and prevent losses. Boron is the most leachable of the trace minerals and it should ideally be applied as NTS Stabilised Boron Granules™. In this case, boron has been complexed with humic acid to offer the dual benefits of stable boron with the soil conditioning capacity of humic acid. If you monitor leaf levels of boron following the use of this product you will be pleased to observe the improved boron availability throughout the season (even during wet periods).
When urea is combined with NTS Soluble Humate Granules™, they dissolve at the same rate, forming a urea humate which is much more stable. This complexing action can dramatically extend the performance of urea, particularly in wet conditions. Similarly, increasingly expensive potassium fertilisers can be stabilised and magnified with humic acid.
Defeating Household Mould
One of the many downsides of long-term rainfall is the invasion of household mould which tends to favour anything organic within your home. I recently returned from a week away at a health festival I organise and was horrified at the mould growth in my absence. My leather lounges, shoes, jackets, belts and timber furniture were all smothered in green fuzz. I wiped it all off using an orange oil-based cleaner but within days the fuzz was back. I realised it was time to bring out the big guns at this point. The “big gun” in this instance is an NTS product called Path-X™.
Path-X™ is a potent quaternary ammonium compound that has been shown to sanitise pathogens, including mould in a very short time. In fact, it takes out 99.8% of all tested microorganisms within 5 minutes. Path-X™ is registered as an agricultural disinfectant and that registration extends to the control of disease organisms on roses and other ornamentals. Path-X™ is diluted at 1 to 1000 and wiped or sprayed on problem areas.
Beating Human Mould (Candida)
A fascinating, but unpleasant, consequence of a household mould invasion is the associated mobilisation of a human mould called Candida. Even though these are completely different organisms, the spores from household mould can stimulate an explosion of the yeast, Candida. The symptoms include sore throats, sinus congestion, headaches, chest infections and exhaustion. The South East corner has countless cases of this ailment at present and it is often mislabelled as a seasonal flu.
The key to avoiding this problem is to use gloves and a mask when cleaning mould and to consume copious quantities of probiotics, immune supporters and herbal biocides while avoiding the sugars that feed the invader. The popular NTS Health probiotic, Bio-Bubble™, is perfect for this purpose, as is the slow dried, concentrated powder made from Bio-Bubble™ called Digest-Ease™.
One of the most effective immune supporters is the South American herb Pau d’arco and it can be consumed as a tea. This herb serves a dual purpose as it also contains biochemicals toxic to candida. Other effective phytochemicals include caprylic acid from coconuts, oregano oil, garlic and the promising NZ herb, Horopito. Candida struggles in the presence of oxygen, so stabilised oxygen supplements can make the terrain less appealing. The biggest single stimulant for Candida overgrowth is sugar and it is not just about lollies and cakes. Fruit sugar, hidden sugars in refined carbohydrates and all forms of potatoes must be avoided to starve out this insidious pathogen.
Correct Your D Deficiency
It’s not just plants that struggle without adequate sunlight, we all need our time in the sun. Vitamin D is now recognised as an incredibly important nutrient. In fact, deficiencies have now been strongly linked to heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and arthritis (to name a few). We need a certain amount of sunshine each day and this current La Nino nightmare has not delivered that for many weeks. People living in the affected regions in QLD and NSW should be supplementing with vitamin D3. Don’t use vitamin D2 as this synthetic form is ineffective. Ideally we should be taking up to 2000 IU of vitamin D3 per day. Cod liver oil is the best natural source and you can neutralise the fishy flavour and potential reflux by combining the juice of half a lemon with each tablespoon.