Soil health key to pest control

Better soils
with Brett Petersen
Kiwi Fertiliser & Golden Bay Dolomite

 The primary means of control of any pest or disease must be the good health of the soil the plants or animals you are growing.

The chain of progression is healthy soil, healthy plants, healthy animals, and healthy humans. Insects and diseases are symptoms of a broken chain. They are not the causes.

A balanced soil must have its chemistry, physical conditions and biology properly aligned.

As an example, plants grown in a soil with poor structure owing to imbalanced nutrients will be susceptible to attack from insects above, as well as nematodes and other harmful biology, below. Much of the latter will be unseen but the plants will not perform to potential.

Kiwi Fertiliser specialises in balancing soils correctly, so therapeutics are rendered unnecessary over time.

It’s a win-win situation. There are no losers other than pests and diseases.

Insect life far outweighs the collective weight of mammals. Insects account for 80 per cent of animal life forms.

Fortunately, most are beneficial with less than one per cent being harmful. However, world-wide expenditure on pesticides is about $50 billion.

We end up consuming the residues. No insecticides are good for us. Public opinion has helped frame anti-pesticide regulations, but regulations are mostly skewed towards commercial interests.

There are several integrated pest management (IPM) strategies. But the reality is, if you need to take direct action against insects, you are growing insect food.

Technically, insect food is not fit for human consumption. The gut systems of insects and humans are hugely different.

If growers or farmers increase soluble solid levels (Brix readings) in plants, insects consuming such plants will die as the high Brix sugars will ferment in the gut and kill the insect from alcohol poisoning.

Research has shown that plants emit infrared signals. If the signals are healthy ones, the insects ignore them.

If the signals are affected by stress brought on by bad weather, other factors, or poor soil conditions, the insect antenna will home in on those signals. In other words, the plant is calling for the insect to dine on it and to “take it out of circulation.”

As the plant moves further from ideal health, the signals become more pronounced and that attracts more insect attack. Sometimes these factors are temporary, and the plant recovers when conditions improve.

In nature, most nitrogen is in the ammonium form. This is held in place in healthy soils with adequate humus levels.

In agricultural soils where the carbon is lacking, often taken out by nitrate nitrogen - cheapest product syndrome - the soils leak ammonia, amplifying the infrared signals emanating from the plants.

Insects (and other biology such as harmful nematodes) tell us what is healthy and what is not.

The soil fertility balancing we practice at Kiwi Fertiliser, leads to much fewer insect pests and other disease problems. Farmers and growers are quick to notice the differences.

Sometimes initial soil balancing is expensive, sometimes it is not, but that all depends on the starting point.

Once there, fertiliser inputs, plant and animal health expenditure all decrease. Profitability increases.

The mindset also changes as life is not a battle against nature, evoking thoughts of “what do I have to kill today?”



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