By Philip A. Wheeler, Ph.D.
The Chickens Have Come Home To Roost
This is an article about options. There will be short introduction to the problem and the causes behind the problem, but the emphasis will be on solutions. Solutions require management and inputs. Inputs have generic and brand names and companies that deal with them. Therefore, I am breaking with precedent from my own writings, with permission from Acres USA, and referencing such information either within this article or in a referral list at the end.
Soybean rust may or may not reach your area, soybean aphids are predicted to be out in force based on last falls “counts”.
The main problem allowing the impact of soybean rust (SR) is lack of available silica in the soil and subsequent adequate silica in the plant. (This applies to all fungal/rust/scab conditions.) This lack of silica is caused by over use of soluble nitrogen fertilizers, subsequent loss of organic matter and loss of boron. Recent research has confirmed that boron leaching is much faster than previously published. Boron activates the silica which activates/moves the calcium, etc. Since calcium is involved with 4-5 protective mechanisms in each plant, there isn’t much defensiveness left. Herbicides also contribute to the problem by killing off beneficial soil fungi and mycorrhizea (symbiotic root fungi) that can make the silica soluble.
The lack of silica prevents the formation of strong cell wall and connective tissue and protective cuticle on the outside of the plant. Research on many different crops and fungal types has shown that increasing the silica content of a plant reduces or eliminates the diseases. Most recently, Jose Garcia of Brazil has protected his organic soybeans against SR by directly introducing soluble silicates into his crop system by foliar feeding. (More on this later.)
Another factor inviting in SR is the natural senescence of soybeans after they bloom. Without generous supplies of nutrients, enzymes and hormones, minerals from the lower leafs will be translocated to the reproductive parts [pods and beans]. Fungi love these lower leafs where warmth, moisture and dead cells exist. Scout there first.
The main problem causing the attraction of soybean aphid (SA) is lack of available phosphorous and potassium in the plant (accompanied by sulfur) which does not allow for formation and transportation of sugars and the production of long chain amino acids. Shorter/incomplete amino acids attract insects to the available food supply (nitrates or poor quality amino acid or protein). Brix is also a partial component of the insect situation. This problem can also be traced back to lack of biological activity in the soil, caused by the chemical approach to farming.
Another valid way of looking at both SA and SR is the concept of plant sap pH. Bruce Tainio’s work shows that if the pH of your plant sap is below 6.4, fungus/rust will find a home on your crop and if the pH is above 6.4 the insects will be attracted. Attraction or severity of attack increases as you move further from the 6.4 in either direction. The pH is determined by the composite frequency of the nutrients involved, so this method is just an energy confirmation of the mineral approach.
The way to “fix” both SA and SR problems is to use sustainable methods of agriculture. Sustainable encompasses all the paradigms from Organic to Quantum Ag. You can use any or all the paradigms according to your beliefs, but the “proof” of your success is always in the “taste of the pudding”. One of the most obvious proofs is the visible confirmation of larger than normal size leafs with shiny, waxy coatings.
Generalities: Stop using those inputs [gradually may be better, but cold turkey can work sometimes if you have fairly good, fertile soil.] that caused both problems. Just because you don’t use anything to fertilize your soybeans, doesn’t mean that the negative stuff you used on the corn ground last year hasn’t carried over. Soil test and replace minerals that are missing, apply bio-activators if needed and start monitoring sap pH. Have a few tissue analysis samples done each year to see where you are. The nutrient ratios in sap required for good health and resistance are “known” and can be corrected to move toward a sap pH of 6.4. Many of you will be shocked to find out how far from 6.4 your sap is.
- To increase physical amounts of silica in your soil, spread rock minerals. Most have lots of silica as part of the mineral complex. Natural phosphates, humates, and sulfur complexes as well as just broad spectrum trace mineral products are included. One of the noted sources is Greensand, a brand name of glauconite, a complex noted for silica and 6-7 % K.
- To increase the solubility/availability of silica already in your soil, add or stimulate mycorrhizea. They produce the stronger acids than root extrudates necessary to release the silicates. Some experts advise not adding new cultures to soils, but rather to stimulate the native ones to colonize the specific crop. Others sell mixed species in hope of providing the right ones. One of the best known stimulation products with proven results is Restore, a homeopathic approach. Compost teas may also have cultures added, but mycorrhizea have no function until there is a living root present to colonize. You can also use exceptionally powerful micro-organism mixtures. Tainio Technologies’ blends falls into this category. SP-1 from Agri-Energy has also shown excellent response. Powerful enzymatic products such as AgriGro from the AgriGro Co. and Pepzyme from Tainio Tech. can also help.
- Another approach is based on the work of Rudolph Steiner. The name most associated with him is “Biodynamic” or biodynamic®, a registered trademark of the Demeter group. Steiner’s approach back in the 1920’s was to use his esoteric knowledge to identify the energies associated with each of the minerals we have discussed. Specifically, he advised his practitioners to use ground silica/quartz as the basis of a homeopathic, atmospheric spray [remedy] to bring in the forces of silica to provide for the above ground protection to the plant. This spray in called 501.
- Hugh Lovel’s towers are designed to broadcast the frequencies of that and other remedies on a continuous basis. The direst application of the remedies may offer immediate protection to organic growers as there is currently no source of organically approved silica for direct, gross application. Bob Benson of Agri-Spreading offers advanced broadcasting systems as well.
- A separate approach based on Steiner’s teachings and other pioneers such as Luther Burbank is called GW Agriculture. There unique “remedies” have shown to be quite effective in preventing or stopping fungal diseases. They recognize/utilize silica forces as well.
- To increase the boron in the soil, add boron. Sol-U-Bor is usually available at most fertilizer supply outlets. Hugh Lovel suggests foliar feeding small amounts of boron or buffering soil applied boron with humates or other fungal foods such as fish hydrolysates to avoid the toxicity of boron to arthropods in the soil.
- To increase the amount of calcium, add Hi-Cal lime. Lime can be activated quicker using molasses/sugar, ammonium sulfate or liquid calcium chelates.
- To hold the boron and calcium in your soil, increase the good fungal activity in your soil. Fish, compost and humates or humic acid help a great deal.
But let’s assume that it is too late to do any long term corrections this year. So the next approach is to try to immediately increase the amount of silica in your soil and plant for SR protection and make phosphorous, potassium and sulfur available for SA. We will start with silicates. Soluble silicates are difficult to work with. They can only be in solution with mono-valence ions such as sodium and potassium. Although they were given emergency approval in Brazil, they are not approved by NOP in the US. To the best of my knowledge, it may take a year of EPA processes prior to NOP consideration as soluble silicates are definitely manufactured products requiring energy inputs. This situation could change at any time.
- Soluble silicates can be used in the row or foliar. CSI is going to offer a soluble silicate product that can be mixed with water and applied for agricultural nutrient purposes only. No claim for anti-fungal properties will be made. THIS PRODUCT IS NOT APPROVED FOR ORGANIC USE AT THIS WRITING.
- Use Steiner approaches to increasing silica, using direct remedies for immediate effect or broadcasters for longer term ones. MEETS NOP STANDARDS
- Use materials that release silica or encourage mycorrhizea as mentioned above such as compost, homeopathic or bacterial products, enzymes, humates, fish, etc. NOP
If all else fails, you may need a fungicide. To be effective, both chemical fungicides and organic ones for SR must be applied before you get hit, or they aren’t very effective. Sometimes they require a second application.
- There appear to adequate chemical fungicides on the market for SR.
- The only organically approved bio-fungicide I am aware of is Ballad™ from AgraQuest,Inc. or Sernade MAX as an alternative from the same company. The written research reports have not been received as of this writing, but verbal reports are positive on the effect of Ballad™ on SR in S Africa and Argentina. Ballad™ is a fermentation product that produces an amino sugar which destroys the cell walls of the rust. There may be only a limited supply available, but AgraQuest is trying to increase production based on the tentative research results. [Also, see lead article in April Acres USA for other alternatives being researched such as hydrogen peroxide.]
Next, we will assume the same scenario for SA. You can only make short term corrections. It is my opinion that SA will be a bigger threat to most of you than SR. Failure to fertilize, activate and monitor will invite attack of SA
Silica may help, but using the same in-row and foliar materials mentioned above to increase available nutrients may be the only way to increase Brix and move your sap pH toward 6.4. Foliar feeding in addition to row support is probably the best approach. Sound devices such as the Veges® Sound Machine have also been known to prevent or stop insect attacks.
If all else fails, you will need an insecticide. I am not familiar with the use of standard chemical insecticides or all the organic alternatives such as Neem Oil or Pyrethrum. The main problem with the organic insecticides is that some may not be too helpful to predators. Therefore, recognizing that you may have your choices for the organic product that have proven effective for you, I recommend a product to my clients called Crop Guard.
Crop Guard is a mixture of garlic and yucca. The garlic portion offers some repellency, but the kill mode is by the yucca clogging the feeding tubes. It is effective against all sucking chewing insects. A spreader sticker is usually recommended to keep the material on the plant as long as possible. Nu-film 17, a spreader-sticker from Miller Chemical* has traditionally been used with Crop Guard and was certified organic as it is derived from pine tar. Please check with your certifier as I have heard that some ‘Catch 22” may disqualify it from its previous approval.
In both “rescue” cases, bio-fungicides and bio-pesticides, the use of Nu-Film 17*, an OMRI listed product, enhances the control factor by sticking the active ingredients to the leaf surface, even with subsequent rains. It also contains compounds extracted from trees, turpenes, which have their own “kill factor”
The options above are certainly not inclusive of all known responses, methods and materials. Please do not interpret my failure to mention or not mention any product or company as meaning that they may or may not offer benefit. Please consult the resources listed below. Good Luck and Good Growing, Dr. Phil
DEALING WITH ASIAN SOYBEAN RUST NATURALLY
By: Jose Luiz Moreira Garcia, M.Sc. Edited by: Philp A. Wheeler, Ph.D.
Brazil has the largest population of Japanese and Japanese descendants outside Japan.
Maybe that was the reason for me to practice Japanese Martial Arts for quite a number of years and specially Aikidô. From an early age I got well exposed to the Japanese culture
living among Japanese farmers in Brazil and practicing JiuJitsu and Aikido.
But what does Aikidô have to do with Agriculture and specially with Eco-Agriculture ?
The founder of Aikidô, Morihei Ueshiba, also known as ” O”Sensei” or Great Teacher,
believed that Martial Arts and Agriculture are one and the same and his students had to endure long hours of agricultural training from very early in the morning till noon if they wanted to practice Aikidô in the afternoon classes. O’Sensei Ueshiba was himself a farmer
for quite sometime in Hokkaido, located in northern Japan.
O’Sensei used to say that the way of the Samurai was to take care of the population in the same way that the way of the farmer would be to take care of his plants and animals. Both would have to be driven by the same spirit of protection and care towards their loved beings. Many times he would talk about Aikido and Agriculture as the ” The way of Love” since love is the strongest of all forces in the Universe. Several of his disciples, specially the ones that did not have a farmer’s background, had a great deal of difficulty to grasp this concept.
O’Sensei had reached enlightenment after a Japanese military official had challenged him to combat with real swords (katana) in which he has done nothing but avoided being hit by the opponent’s weapon . The official has given up after finding out that it was virtually impossible to harm O’Sensei, who was said to be able to guess all the opponent’s moves before hand. Completely exhausted he went to a garden located in the back of the training hall (Dôjo) to rest and in his own words “felt a golden light engulfing his whole body and suddenly could understand the birds as well as all other life forms”. He then described how this experience allowed him to became “One with the Universe”. Clairvoyance was one of his many abilities. He was considered a living treasure in Japan and had demonstrated his abilities to the Emperor in many occasions, an honor reserved for a very few individuals.
In Japan, the term “Sensei” describes the “teacher” or “instructor” in the many oriental arts.
But in reality, “Sensei’s” real meaning is “born before”, meaning that if one has been born before he/she has a better chance to know any subject because it has already being exposed to a particular situation and therefore can teach others how to deal with that particular situation.
During the 2004 season most the Brazilian Soybean Farmers were hit unexpectedly by Asian Soybean Rust (ASR). Most of them have experienced losses to some extent.
I myself have lost nearly 50% of my crop in the 130 acres I have planted. Some lucky guys
just got away without being hit by pure chance alone. Hot and humid summers seem to favor the spread of the disease that have caused losses up to 80% in some cases in our country.
This year Organic and Eco farmers have tried everything on earth that was non toxic, while conventional farmers have relied on expensive fungicides either approved for soybeans or not. Some of the natural treatments have worked and some have not.
American farmers are in the same situation that we were last season and therefore can benefit from our experience. In a sense, we can become your “Sensei” for the simple reason we have gone through this situation one year before. Learning from and using our experience could be very beneficial and could prevent great economic losses.
Since we knew beforehand that a fungal attacks is not a symptom of fungicide deficiency
(without being clairvoyant of course ), as Dr Arden Andersen has pointed out on many occasions, it made the situation much easier to face..
Some of the treatments are still to be fully tested or have not been tested enough to see some positive or negative results. For instance, Compost Tea (CT) which would have been the first choice of a true Eco Farmer, has the drawback of having to be professionally made with a good Compost with plenty of active life. In a country with very little understanding of what a good compost is supposed to be and without a Soil Food Web Lab branch available, making such a tea is certainly a tough task. Besides it, there are very little Compost Tea machines that would make decent CT for areas of 2,000 to 10,000 acres and the only type available in the US market that I know cost around US$ 50,000.00.
I am a CT enthusiast myself and make my own CT machines to cover smaller areas but found a hard time to convince big organic farming operations to use this wonderful tool. This concept is not well known in Brazil as it is in the US maybe because we don’t have any Dr. Elaine Ingham down here.
Some organic agriculture proponents may argue that big organic operations might not truly organic in a sense and I agree, but again, I don’t make the rules.
In my opinion, CT would do very little to control ASR due to the very unique characteristic of this disease. As you probably know, ASR attacks the plant when it is already programmed to die, i.e. after flowering. When flowering takes place a change in hormones tells the plant that nutrients in the leaves are no longer needed in the leaves and they start to move into the grains.
Plants that are affected by ASR have mostly the same number of grains (seeds) that non affected plants have, but the problem is that they just don’t fill out (size). A plant affected by ASR will have a smaller seed and this seed will still be viable. In other words Nature has taken care of the perpetuation aspect of the species, but economically speaking, it is disastrous. Imagine a soybean seed with 50% of its actual size and weight. That would represent a 50% loss, just as I had in my own field. In other words, it is a hard task to stop the fall of something that is already going downhill.
CT can and will protect a growing and living plant if properly made, but CT will have a hard time to do the same in a plant that is already genetically programmed to die. CT works wonders in a living plant that is actively producing leaf exudates, but that may not be the case of a senescent soybean leaf.
I am not saying that CT will not be good to be used before the flowering stage. Don’t take me wrong. What I am saying is that after flowering, it will have little to no effect on ASR control. Without CT, what else could be done ?
I had to envisage a way to make the plant cuticle stronger and more resistant and the first nutrient that came to my mind was Silicon Si, commonly called Silica. I used Neutral Potassium Silicate in this case.
By Neal Kinsey’s suggestion at an Acres USA Conference I also tried Copper and some Boron as he believes that both minerals plays a key role in rust control as a whole regardless its etiology. (Editor’s Note: Boron moves silica which then moves calcium. Copper is a proven anti-fungal element.)
Some folks here have also included Sulphur (the micronized 91 to 99% sulphur ) with excellent results. Some swear by their Soluble Humates efficacy, but it looks like the Silicon from Neutral Potassium Silicate (or Neutral Sodium Silicate) has played the most part in properly protecting the plant. As you know the nutrient Silicon has the ability to create a tougher plant skin and has given good protection to the plant against ASR pathogen. (Editor’s Note: Sulfur is anti-fungal and the very low leaf surface pH created may harm the fungal organisms. Both sodium and potassium will move the surface pH to a higher point, which can prevent growth and penetration of fungal organisms)
From the experience we had in this 2005 season, it looks like ASR has a greater difficulty to infect a plant that is well nurtured in terms of Silicon due to the physical barrier and possibly due to the high surface pH. The positive results have been so outstanding that I believe that this non-toxic control technique will eventually be used by conventional soybean growers due to its low cost and easiness of application. Rudolph Steiner homeopathic remedies & techniques that increase the silica content of plants can also be used to increase the protective barrier whether applied through Field Broadcasters or direct spray application.
So what is the best approach? As always, having adequate mineralization, especially boron and copper along with general bio-activation is a good start. Even though soils have a lot of silica, it may not be available. Applying Steiner homeopathic remedies to increase the silica in the plant may be the only “organic way”in the US. Because the certifying boards in Brazil are heavily influenced by Steiner principles, they have allowed the use of sodium or potassium silicate on organic production. They took into account the desperate need and the lack of an organically approved fungicide. Dr. Wheeler of CSI is currently checking the status of silicates in the US. He also has the protocols I used to actually apply the silicates. He has informed me that there is an organically approved fungicide available in the US, so the direct application of silicates, if not specifically organic by nature, may not be approved.
I have heard reports from the US that some growers also believe that Neem Oil does have a protective effect against ASR. Neem Oil has been tested and approved by the USDA for the control of some fungal diseases in roses. Can Neem oil also be used to help control ASR ?
Unfortunately, our former experience here in Brazil does not allow me to answer this question. Only next 2005 USA season can answer this question but here is a word on caution about Neem oil and any other oil preparations used in agriculture: Every oil above 2% can be phytotoxic and that includes Neem Oil. This phytotoxicity is even increased with the use of Sulphur so please don’t even think about using Neem Oil and Sulphur in the same tank for spraying. Oil phytotoxicity is a function of ambient temperature, UV radiation, wind speed, oil concentration and sulphur concentration. In case you decide to try Neem Oil against ASR try to find a reliable supplier that can guarantee you its origin and Azadirachtin concentration that should be above 1,000 ppm. India is still the best source of Neem Oil.
It really helps knowing your opponent’s next move before hand when one is not clairvoyant.
<strong>Jose Luiz Moreira Garcia</strong> is a Certified Organic Grower who farms 1,400 acres both organically and biologically in Southern Brazil and holds a Master of Science degree in
Horticulture from Michigan State University. He also do some consultant work in South America for small, medium and large organic operations and is actively engaged in Biological Farming teaching over there. He can be reached at <a href=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com</a>
REFERENCED PRODUCTS AND COMPANIES:
GREENSAND: Available in smaller quantities from Fertrell at 717-367-1566 in PA and Peaceful Valley in CA at 1-888-784-1722. CSI sells in bulk semi loads only. 1-800-260-7933
TAINIO TECHNOLOGIES: CSI is a distributor – 800-260-7933.
SP-1: Agri Energy of IL. Contact them for your nearest dealer at 815-872-1190.
HUGH LOVEL: CSI is an authorized dist. and installer of broadcasters, and we use the GW Agriculture field sprays in our installations.
VEGES SOUND MACHINES are distributed exclusively by CSI 1-800-260-7933.
GW AGRICULTURE call CSI 800-260-7933 or 972-736-2900.
AGRI-GRO call CSI 800-260-7933.
BALLAD™ is manufactured by AgraQuest, but will be warehoused by EnviroQuest of MO at 1-888-624-2420. Please direct all request for info and purchasing to them.
Crop Guard or Crop Guard EC is manufactured by BioDynamic Earth of ID. Call 208-841-0308.
Soluble Silicates maybe available from Agri Energy Resources, 815-872-1190.