We all know the children’s story of The Three Bears, right? A girl named Goldilocks enters the home of a family of bears; she tastes three different bowls of porridge and finds that she prefers the porridge that is neither too hot nor too cold, but the one that is just the right temperature.
So, what does a children’s story have to do with plant science and agriculture? This Goldilocks principle of ‘just right’ applies to many aspects of life on earth but is also relevant to farmers that have to contend with several variables to cultivate healthy crops and sustainable yields. If it’s too hot and dry, crops will battle to grow and even die. If it’s too wet, plants become vulnerable to diseases, roots rot and it causes water and nutrients imbalance. How then can farmers create just the right environment in spite of erratic weather conditions?
Let’s first take a look at some of the most commonly occurring stress factors that affect crop quality and yield.
Extreme heat reduces a plant’s photosynthesis and transpiration efficiency, which places stress on the growth of a plant. Photosynthesis is the plant’s ability to take heat energy and use it to turn carbon dioxide into sugars which are used to help a plant grow through its various life stages and reach maturity. Heat stress also increases transpiration which is a plant’s ability to regulate water evaporation. The loss of water places even more pressure on a plant and slows down healthy development and growth. This decrease in plant activity will negatively impact healthy root development and metabolic processes that will collectively impact a crop’s productivity.
Often heat stress is coupled with lack of soil moisture, which in combination, further impacts crop yield and quality. Similarly to us humans, it’s one thing to be hot and have enough water to constantly hydrate and keep us cool. But when you’re hot and thirsty, the heat can become unbearable, affect our productivity and ability to function. Limited soil moisture, in combination with increased transpiration, affects a plant’s ability to efficiently regulate water use. If there’s not enough water available for a plant it can’t grow. And if it can’t grow then it impacts yield and quality.
On the other end of the spectrum, farmers might have to deal with excess soil moisture which also brings a host of problems. When water is unable to drain away or plants are constantly wet, it creates a growing environment for fungal growth and root rot. Fungal growth weakens a plant’s structure as it feeds off it to grow. Crops that are affected by fungal growth are usually of lower quality and value and unable to withstand attacks from pests and diseases.
Root rot may also occur when excess moisture in the soil is unable to drain. The roots help the plant absorb moisture and nutrients from the soil – if the roots are dead the plant will not take up the necessary nutrients and minerals that are needed for healthy plant growth.
The Goldilocks Treatment
Manvert Silikon, as you may know by now, is a liquid biostimulant. Its effectiveness is enhanced under conditions of water stress and high temperatures. Though silicon is not considered an essential nutrient for crop cultivation, studies have found that high levels of silicon in plants enhance their strength and rigidity1 that help create that ‘just right’ environment for crops to overcome biotic and abiotic stress.
Manvert Silikon’s Mechanisms
During periods of too much water, the silicon particles can absorb the surrounding water, drying the surface and reducing the water available for fungal growth. When the plant experiences water stress, a reversible reaction occurs where the silicon releases the retained water, making it again available for the plant as needed. This creates a favourable (just right) moisture environment for crops.
The nano-silicon particles also reduce transpiration thereby improving the water efficiency of the plant.
Silikon’s strengthening mechanism is achieved through the accumulation of the silicon in the epidermal tissue. Due to the nature of silicon, it forms a polymeric, organic and crystalline framework that protects and mechanically strengthens the plant to better withstand an attack from pests and pathogens.
Application & Ecological Certifications
Manvert Silikon can be applied at any time during the crop cycle and especially during periods of stress. Applications during these stages have shown to have the most positive effects and Silikon presents good miscibility and compatibility with most pesticide and fertiliser products commonly used. Silikon is a registered fertilizer product with additional ecological certifications from Spain (CAAE).
For more information on Silikon, any other Manvert product or to become a Manvert stockist, please contact DNA Plant Science today. DNA Plant Science is the proud distributor of the Manvert range in South Africa.