Natural plant growth stimulants and pesticides

At a recent course on sustainable farming, Graeme Sait, CEO of Australian company Nutri-Tech Solutions, promoted natural growth stimulants and pesticides such as triacontanol and aloe vera, and more effective integrated pest management.

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Triacontanol is the most productive growth stimulant ever discovered. “The main growth response is based on its capacity to enhance the rate of photosynthesis,” said Graeme Sait of Nutri-Tech Solutions. “The effect of this growth stimulant was already well documented in 1985. In a series of trials, the average chlorophyll increase was 37%. It has been linked to the improved performance of several phosphate-based enzymes.

In some sorghum trials, it increased the uptake of phosphate within two hours. This is significant, as phosphate is the key to higher brix levels in plants. “As triacontanol enhances photosynthesis, the plant’s mineral uptake will increase, as will hormonal response, protein synthesis and water utilisation. These physiological responses will increase the number of flower buds, tillers and branches. The rate of leaf, flower and fruit drop decreases, crop height increases, a deeper root system develops and there are marked yield increases. Triacontanol will soon be available from Nutri-Tech Solutions as a stand-alone plant-growth promoter.”

Kelp as a natural insecticide Kelp has been anecdotally linked to insect control for many years and, according to Sait, it is almost considered a commodity in Australia. “It has the highest known vitamin level of any plant,” he said. “It also contains mannitol, a powerful chelating agent, 70 minerals derived from seawater, four natural growth hormones and complex carbohydrates and vitamins.” Recent research suggests that gibberellic acid, one of kelp’s natural growth hormones, reduces red spider mite numbers very effectively. Other kelp hormones keep certain insect species sexually immature and incapable of reproduction, and prevent female insects from producing the pheromone they need to attract mates.

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In 1985, scientists found that regular applications of kelp at concentrations of 0,5% to 1% were effective in killing four species of nematode. The role of seaweed as a nematicidal agent appears to be twofold, Sait explained. “Firstly, seaweed contains several antibiotics, but the cytokinins are the most important. Cytokinins inhibit larval penetration and the development of nematodes in the roots. Secondly, shelf life is related to prolonged senescence of the fruit or vegetables. Cytokinins, auxins and gibberellins are all capable of delaying senescence.” Aloe vera and other growth stimulants Dr Elaine Ingham, world-renowned soil microbiologist and founder of the Soil Foodweb Institute (SFI), has identified aloe vera (Aloe vera (L. Burm. f.)) as one of the most potent biological stimulants she has ever worked with.
It contains the two growth hormones gibberellic acid and indole acetic acid, as well as broad-spectrum trace elements and complex carbohydrates. “The epidermis of the plant contains anthraquinone glycoside compounds called aloins, which are reported to have both fungicidal and pesticide qualities,” Sait said. Nutri-Tech Solutions has received reports from several growers in Australia of an unexpected benefit of their product, Aloe- Tech. According to Sait, it appears that aloin from the outer skin of the aloe repels wallabies, kangaroos, rats and bird pests. Sait said vitamins are also undervalued as growth stimulants. “It is significant that eight of the B vitamin group are considered to be plant-growth stimulants. So why not foliar spray with B vitamins?” he asked. “Research at the University of Wisconsin has demonstrated that Vitamin C plays a major role in plant health, as it does in human health.”