It is always exciting to discover formulas that prove to be greater than the sum of their parts. The individual components may all have their unique benefits, but when combined, something magical happens. This is the power of synergy.
This week, we are proud to offer you the opportunity to experience this phenomenon with Brix-Fix™, a remarkable new photosynthesis enhancer, designed to boost production of all crops.
When we develop something really special, I am always intent upon maximising the viability for all growing enterprises. This involves a combination of cost-effectiveness and user-friendliness. We achieved this by creating a super concentrate, where foliar application delivers a profound response at just 2 litres per hectare (or just 800 mL per acre). It has taken several months of research to achieve long-term stability at this level of concentration, but we have succeeded.
The next challenge was to achieve a big response for a small investment. This is essential for our broadacre farmers in Australia, where regular droughts often make dryland farming a perilous and cash-strapped journey. Similarly, we wanted to ensure viability for rice producers across Asia, so we have minimised margins to maintain that required affordability.
In many instances, companies will repackage the same formula, and substantially increase prices, when marketing into more intensive horticulture, where the budgets are much bigger. We have not done this with Brix-Fix™. The application rate remains the same across the board. Two litres per hectare, at a total cost of around $10 per hectare, applies to every crop, from avocados to zucchini, from canola and cotton, to apples, berries and wheat. It is also remarkably effective on marijuana, the biggest cash crop of them all (in many countries where it is now legal).
While the application rate per hectare stays the same, the dilution rate will vary in different enterprises – i.e., 2 litres diluted in 100 litres per hectare in broadacre and rice, versus 2 litres diluted in 500 litres per hectare for vegetables, or 2 litres per 1000 litres in some fruit and vine crops.
What is Brix-Fix™?
I am renowned for sharing full details of some of our formulas, to allow growers to formulate their own version, if it proves more cost-effective. This is not necessarily a sound business principle, but I am strongly motivated to improve the profitability of food producers, the most important of all professions.
However, I will not divulge those details with this new product, because we have strived so hard to create a low cost, high performance input for all growing enterprises. In this instance, it would simply not be possible to create a lower cost, DIY replacement. The complex new formula features amino acids, plant growth promoters, chelating agents, obscure micronutrients, phytonutrients, natural gibberellins and, most importantly, triacontanol. In fact, the entire formula is designed to enhance the performance of this remarkable photosynthesis enhancer.
The Tria Triumph
Triacontanol (tria) is a natural plant growth promoter found in particularly high concentrations in the outer waxy coating of the lucerne plant (alfalfa). The yield building potential of this substance has been intensively researched, and it is now used in millions of hectares of diverse crops, both as a foliar and as a root treatment. However, Asia accounts for the vast majority of the triacontanol utilised globally each year, and it is something of a mystery as to why it has been largely ignored in Western agriculture. We are hopeful that Brix-Fix™ will trigger an awakening as to the tria potential. We will certainly be encouraging NTS clients in 57 countries to trial this new formula.
How many inputs can you list that have been demonstrated to improve growth, yield, photosynthesis, protein synthesis, uptake of water and nutrients, nitrogen fixation and enzyme activity? Published research covering this impressive array of benefits has included that by Ries 1991; Ries et al. 1993; Nagoshi and Kawashima 1996; Borowski et al. 2000; Naeem et al. 2009; Aftab et al. 2010; Idrees et al. 2010; Naeem et al. 2010, Naeem et al. 2011.
Photosynthesis is the single most important process on the planet. This fusion of water, sunlight and CO2, within cells called chloroplasts, produces glucose, the basic energy unit of all life. The plant uses glucose for every process, and it donates 30% of its total production to the soil-life surrounding its roots. This “give and you will receive” relationship is integral to all plant life on the planet, as this carbohydrate energy source fuels multiple microbial processes, which in turn support your crop. These include nitrogen fixation, immune elicitation, increased crop resilience and enhanced mineral delivery.
Some of the earliest research into triacontanol demonstrated that enhanced photosynthesis was a major player in the profound plant response. In 1968, Eriksen and some of his colleagues noted a marked increase in growth and dry weight in their tria study, and attributed it to improved photosynthesis and the associated increase in photosynthates (increased brix levels). Brix is a measure of dissolved solids (including sugars), easily monitored with a simple hand-held tool, called a refractometer. This brix meter is considered essential equipment for any growers seeking to monitor their skills as chlorophyll managers. In fact, it is a direct indicator of your growing skills. The higher your brix levels, the greater the resilience, productivity, flavour and shelf-life of your crop.
Several studies have demonstrated an increased rate of CO2 fixation (often exceeding 30%), and other studies have revealed increased activity of a photosynthesis-related enzyme called RuBisCO. Similarly, in 1992, Savithiry et al reported enhanced activity of the key respiratory enzyme, malate dehydrogenase. If the plant is respiring more efficiently there are several positive outcomes.
Increases in both chlorophyll density and carotenoid counts have been regularly reported. Both pigments are directly linked to photosynthesis, and the increased nutrient density associated with higher brix levels.
In fact, measurable changes in multiple parameters have been recorded within five minutes of tria application. Brix level increases can often be observed within 60 minutes of foliar application.
Increased Medicinal Qualities
The founder of modern medicine, Hippocrates, shared the important statement, “Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food”. As phytonutrient research explodes, we are increasingly recognising the profundity of those words. It is now blindingly apparent that we were supposed to get our nutrition from food, because, unlike the store-bought supplements, every food nutrient comes with the full range of co-factors that determine maximum utilisation. However, there is huge variation in the nutritional and associated medicinal value of food, based upon how it is grown. A core principle of Nutrition Farming® involves mastery of minerals, microbes and humus to maximise the medicinal value of our food.
There has been considerable research demonstrating the potential of triacontanol to increase the content of medicinal compounds in plants and to increase the potency of essential oils. These studies have revealed higher levels of curcumin in treated turmeric, higher carotenoids in multiple crops and some impressive improvements in the essential oils from herb crops. There is tremendous potential here for boosting the powerhouse components of medicinal marijuana, including both CBDs and THC.
In 2007, Khan et al., reported greater plant height, dry weight and branch numbers in treated opium poppies. There were a larger number of pods and seeds per pod and there was a significantly higher morphine yield per plant.
In 2009, this same research team reported larger tomato plants with more fruit and greater weight per fruit in treated plants. They also found higher levels of both lycopene and vitamin C, in plants where tria had been both foliar sprayed and fertigated.
In studies involving sweet basil in 2011, Hashmi et al. reported greater root and shoot lengths, spikes and dry weight in treated plants but, importantly, they also found higher chlorophyll and carotenes in the leaf and a larger essential oil yield. The key actives in the oil, including linalool, methyl eugenol and eugenol, were also substantially higher where tria was involved.
Similarly, in 2011, Naeem et al. published their research looking at Japanese mint that had been foliar sprayed with triacontanol. They found increased total leaf yield and higher levels of chlorophyll, carotenes and phenolic compounds. Once again, there was a greater essential oil yield and higher levels of the key actives (menthol, L- menthone, isomenthone and menthol acetate) in that oil.
In terms of leaf tissue, researchers, including Khan et al. (2006, 2007, 2009), Singh et al. (2011), Aftab et al. (2010) and Indrees et al. (2010), demonstrated that triacontanol is a major tool to boost nutrient density. They reported significant improvement in the leaf nutrient content of artemisia, coriander, tomato, opium poppy and ginger.
Triacontanol to Counter Climate Change
I have travelled to over 30 countries each year since 2015, and I can attest to one fact. There is nowhere that is not hurting from climate change! If you still have your head deeply buried in the sand and continue to deny the undeniable, your deafened ears are set to begin burning any time soon.
There are more heatwaves, more droughts, more wind, more floods, more hailstorms, more salt stress, and more early and late frosts. It has become much harder to farm amidst these extremes. In this brave new world, “resilience”, becomes a critically important concept. Kelp is a widely researched rescue remedy to boost resilience, and there are several seaweed varieties included in the complex Brix-Fix™ formula. However, it is the core ingredient, triacontanol, that truly shines, in terms of better managing both biotic and abiotic (climate extremes) stress.
Biotic stress is always reduced when we boost brix levels. In fact, the higher the brix levels, the lower the pest pressure. Plants lacking nutrient density (low brix crops) are a calling card for insects and disease (the garbage collectors). These creatures are preprogrammed to attack substandard produce, as part of their role in the perfect blueprint, called Nature. Weak plants are removed to improve the overall gene pool.
There is some exciting research relative to triacontanol and environmental pressure (abiotic stress).
In a series of published studies beginning in 1992, a researcher called Muthuchelian and his colleagues demonstrated that plants treated with triacontanol, while experiencing stress from acidity, cadmium and water logging, increased mechanisms to counter that stress. These included increased CO2 fixation, chlorophyll synthesis, sugar and starch production and enhanced enzyme activity. Similarly, Krishna and Kumari (2008) reported reduced salt stress in soybeans following tria treatment.
Rajaskaran and Blake (1999) reported a reversal of the damaging effects of drought in treated plants. There was less membrane leakage in very dry conditions, which enabled better survival and performance during drought. This has some profound potential in our dry, brown continent where several states are currently experiencing crippling drought.
In 2009, Borowski and Blamowski demonstrated that triacontanol significantly decreased the negatives associated with very cold conditions.
Local Tria Trial
In recent times, I have become increasingly aware of the potential of triacontanol in all growing enterprises. I have also become increasingly aware of how few Australian growers know about this potential. Hence, we have begun to initiate on-farm trials because, “seeing is believing”.
In a trial just completed at a queensland tomato farm, the outcome was truly impressive.
Damian Sutton farms 25 hectares of tomatoes, cauliflower and broccoli near Gatton in SE Qld. He is an innovative grower always seeking to increase production sustainably.
This small trial on his farm involved triacontanol, either fertigated or foliar sprayed.
There were three applications of triacontanol, fertigated at 300 mL per hectare, involving a total of 900 mL per hectare, per season. The results revealed a yield increase of 35.6% over the control. This grower typically achieves tomato yields of around 50 tonnes per hectare. This yield boost represented an increase of 17.8 tonnes per hectare. Assuming an average market price of $2 per kg, this increase is worth more than $35,000 per hectare. Perhaps you can now understand my excitement!
The foliar trial involved just two applications of 50 mL per hectare. Here, there was effectively 9 times less triacontanol involved, but the yield increase was still 17.6% over the control. This represented a yield boost of 8.8 tonnes per hectare, or an extra $17,600 in bankable profit.
The grower involved is obviously delighted and he has now committed to a much larger trial in the upcoming season.
The new NTS formulation, Brix-Fix™, offers a new yield-building, stress-busting option to all food producers. It is cost effective for all crops, including broadacre and pasture, but it is an absurdly low priced option for higher dollar value crops like fruit and vegetables. It is truly rare to see such a diverse package of benefits available for $10 per hectare. In fact, I suspect this is a “first” for Australian agriculture. I am quietly confident that Brix-Fix™ will soon become one of our largest selling products across the globe. Trial it for yourself and you will understand my enthusiasm.
For more information on Brix-Fix™, including application rates, please refer to our Product Information Sheet.