by Mark Edwards
martcultures address food production challenges with sustainable solutions. The core concept comes from Aristotle, who suggested using nature’s way:
“If one way be better than another,
that you may be sure is nature’s way.” —Aristotle
Smartcultures mimic nature by employing nature’s original nutrient-delivery system for plants – algae – to deliver targeted organic nutrients precisely when plants need them.
Crop yields increase significantly because the plants receive targeted nutrients in a form immediately bioavailable to them, at each step of growth, development and fruiting. Field tests demonstrate that crops grown with algae biofertilizer have larger, stronger and deeper root systems, enabling them to absorb the micronutrients that give produce enhanced nutritional profile, size, color, taste and texture.
Bioavailable nutrients are nano-sized and are quickly absorbed by plants, minimizing or eliminating nutrient waste, erosion and pollution. Algae continue to grow in the field, building stored energy in humus that plants can tap at a later time. Algae attract symbiant communities of microflora that, together, create a rich soil crust that stores nutrients and minerals while minimizing wind and water erosion. The additional humus improves soil organics, fertility and water holding capacity. Smartcultures typically use local algae that has evolved through eons to thrive in situ, in the local soil and microclimate.
Microalgae and macroalgae, (seaweed) are different in nutritional value but both act as excellent biofertilizers. Farmers along coastlines have used seaweed as biofeed for both crops and animals for millennia.
Algae biofertilizer and soil conditioners are made up of an array of water-soluble minerals. While chemical fertilizers typically contain only NPK nutrients, algae biofertilizers may deliver over 80 minerals, growth hormones, amino acids, fatty acids, cytokinins, auxins, vitamins and enzymes. Biofertilizers stimulate organic activity in the soil and lower toxic residues from various salts and chlorinated hydrocarbons. Toxins from harmful organisms such as nematodes, molds and fungus infestations are also reduced by activated plant growth hormones that are stimulated from algae bioactive compounds.
Algae kindle production of natural plant growth hormones that accelerate cell division and elongation, producing taller, greener and lusher plants that produce higher yields. Algae also stimulate plants to secrete compounds that repress harmful bacteria, fungi and other pests. In some cases, algae operate as a catalyst that helps plants manufacture natural insect repellent on their leaves.
Biofertilizers decrease the need for insecticides by activating the plants’ natural self-defense to stressors. Biofertilizers enable plants to produce a distasteful waxy film on their surfaces to repel insect attacks. Insects bypass treated fields in favor of untreated plants. Algae biofertilizer improves the health and density of beneficial soil microbes which suppresses the proliferation of pathogenic microbes. Hardier plants build stronger cell walls due to the presence of silica, which provides resistance to temperature spikes.
Algae biofertilizer creates positive effects on the growth of vegetables, fruits, nuts and other crops. Algae biofertilizer is used for conditioning seeds and as biofertilizer for soil or foliar application during the growing season. Biofertilizer stimulates seed germination, growth and yield for many different crops.
Fish emulsion (right) is well-known among farmers and gardeners to provide hearty nutrients for excellent produce. Fish are what they eat, which is algae. Fish emulsion provides a liquid form similar to algae biofertilizer. Macroalgae products make up over half of the biofertilizers and growth enhancement products sold for home hydroponics. Crop enhancement results published on macroalgae biofertilizers are similar to microalgae.
Smartcultures cycle nutrients to amplify the indigenous terrestrial algae present in local soil. A two-year field study with Del Monte Fresh Foods in Yuma, Arizona provided metrics that demonstrate the benefits of biofertilizers compared with chemical fertilizers. This project cultivated algae biofertilizer next to a melon field and flowed the biofertilizer into the 200-acre field. The field, bordered on three sides by raw desert, had been abandoned because the soil was worn out from years of production. The desert soil had high pH, 9.4, and extreme salinity and compaction. A drip irrigation system 18 inches underground delivered the biofertilizer in the irrigation water. A section of good adjacent cropland was cultivated similarly and fertilized with standard chemical fertilizers as the control.
The algae bioamplification worked as the metrics obtained over several crop cycles exceeded the values shown in the table.
Algae physioactivators strengthen and accelerate plant growth and development and improve crop quality. Physioactivators contain active algae ingredients that stimulate plant nitrate reductase, phosphatase and other plant enzymes that are responsible for absorbing minerals and their uptake in the plant. Algae physioactivators stimulate root development, which improves nutrient absorption. The mechanism improves photosynthesis by increasing the activity of chlorophyll and its contents in the stem and leaves. Physioactivators increase plant biomass, both above ground and the root system.
Algae biofertilizer improved germination rates, speeded time to maturity and increased plant flowers, leaf and fruit size. Earlier melon maturity created a 20% market price premium. Melon yield increased over 30% per acres, and melon size increased over 20%.
Algae physioactivators support flowering and fruit setting by stimulating the synthesis of polyamines — compounds responsible for flowering, pollination efficiency and fruit set. Higher levels of polyamines stimulate the intensity of cell division, which leads to faster growth. Physioactivators make plants more stress tolerant to extreme weather conditions, pests and diseases.
The biofertilized melons had better color, aroma and texture. Nutrient analysis performed by an independent lab found the melons had 300% more sugar and 60% more vitamin C. Blind taste tests at Arizona State University preferred the biofertilized melon 17:1.
The Del Monte farmer was most delighted with tests that showed three extra days of shelf life, since the melons were shipped from Yuma to New York City. The healthier plants produced stronger melons.
The field soil structure improved substantially. The pH dropped from 9.3 to 7.8, while soil porosity, or looseness, improved 500%. The looser soil allowed irrigation water to percolate below the root zone, taking with it the excess salt. The melons were grown on six-foot berms covered with black plastic to diminish weed competition. When, after four crops cycles over two years, the black plastic was removed, the red desert soil had turned green. The algae cells that were not bioabsorbed by the plants had continued to grow using the sugars given off by the melon roots. The algae had provided substantial new organic materials to the soil, which led to a 20% improvement in moisture retention. Improved soil structure reduced tillage and diesel fuel cost, as well as water for irrigation.
The increase soil organic carbon increased as the algae grew in the soil. The organic matter improved moisture retention as it slowed the loss of water and nutrients below the rhizosphere, netting 25% less irrigation. Algae produced sugars that attracted a host of beneficial microorganisms. All the microbes worked symbiotically to bring the dead soil back to life.
The farm manager was able to reduce N fertilizer by 70%, due to the N2 fixing cyanobacteria. Both P and K fertilizers were reduced about 50%. Algae solubilized considerable P fixed in the soil, which substantially reduced fertilizer cost. Algae biofertilizer also delivered micronutrients, vitamins and trace elements, which improved yields and quality.
A nearby field was destroyed by a whitefly invasion. Some whiteflies visited the biofertilized field, but the plants were able to produce a natural pesticide that seem to ward-off the whiteflies. The whiteflies fled the field without pesticides.
Algae biofertilizer review articles align with these results for both micro and macroalgae biofertilizer. Macroalgae biofertilizer typically uses dead seaweed material, which does not add soil organics or humus benefits. Macroalgae fertilizer, like commercial chemical fertilizer, works fine in the near term, but damages the soil over time, due to residual salt.
Smartcultures can increase farmers’ income by improving crop quality and quantity. Farmers can save money and energy by lowering their consumption of fossil fuels and by reducing the need to apply chemical fertilizers. Smartcultures benefit the local ecology and can decrease air, soil and water pollution by 80%. Crop productivity, resource consumption and cost savings vary substantially based on soil fertility and structure.
Smartcultures provide the highest added value for abandoned cropland, compacted soils depleted of nutrients or soil structures prone to erosion.
Smartcultures provides the unusual value proposition that every farmer can leave each field stronger and more fertile after every crop.
Algae’s nano package of nutrients stimulates plant metabolism and improves yields and quality. Animal cellular metabolism overlaps with plants in many ways. Animals need the same essential nutrients for successful metabolism, in different proportions. Algae biofeeds deliver these essential nutrients that improve yields and quality for animal farmers. More on that in the next chapter.