You are What you Eat: the Correlation of Plant Nutrition and Disease

Want to decrease or prevent plant diseases? Plant nutrition is an effective way to grow vigorous, healthy plants that can fight against a plant pathogen. A foliar feed system gives the nutrients a plant needs while decreasing our ecological footprint. What should be in a foliar fertilizing spray so you can grow a happy, healthy disease free plant?

Disease Triangle

For a disease to occur you need three pieces: environmental conditions, pathogen present, susceptible plant. If you remove one of the three, then a disease will be stopped. Often when people grow plants, they want to eliminate the plant pathogen, injecting antibiotics into a tree, spraying fungicide, or killing insects that carry a plant virus. However, having a strong plant with the correct plant nutrition is the way to prevent a plant disease that also decreases human’s effect on the environment. Which nutrients decrease plant diseases?

Nitrogen

After carbon (carbon dioxide), hydrogen, and oxygen (water) plants need nitrogen. It is the nutrient required the most in the plant. Plants can use nitrogen to protect itself from a pathogen.

Potassium

A review of studies done by a research team found that plants that have a potassium deficiency suffered from the more severe infection from a pathogen. Additional potassium when the plant was no longer had a deficiency didn’t add more protection to the plant. Research team’s article
This means that preventing plants from experiencing potassium deficiency is critical. Potassium is a macronutrient, and the plant needs a lot of it. Make sure your plants have enough potassium.

Manganese

In that same review, they found that manganese decreases some plant diseases. Manganese is used to make lignin, which makes up wood. Lignin is hard to break down and creates a great barrier, preventing pathogens from spreading inside the plant. Manganese probably prevents pathogens such as fungi from getting into the plant.

Boron

To correctly form cell walls plants need boron. Boron also makes cell walls stronger. Boronic acid itself has been used to apply directly to kill pathogens. One study found that a foliar fertilizing spray of boron reduced leaf lesions.
Read the full study 

Silicon

Single most important nutrient for preventing plant disease. Silicon seems to do everything from alerting the plant is under attack to being a physical protection for the plant.

Selenium

Recent research is showing the importance of selenium in preventing plant diseases. One study found that Indian mustard, Brassica juncea that had a relatively high amount of Selenium was lethal to caterpillars that fed on it and were less susceptible to fungal infections. More juicy information on Selenium

What’s Your Next Step?
The first step to prevent a plant disease is to have healthy strong plants with plant nutrition. This is done by making sure plants are not deficient especially in nitrogen and potassium. For extra protection give plants manganese, boron, silicon, and selenium. These nutrients will prevent, reduce, or heal plants from plant pathogens. Using a foliar feed system ensures that the correct amount of nutrients are applied to the plant. Too many nutrients can hurt the environment or encourage weeds which can be a source of plant pathogens.


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