At BluePlanet, we often get questions from growers about what nutrients are most important for healthy crops and what they can do to ensure their plants get everything they need to reach their full potential.

So, we took a moment to answer a few of those questions here. Read on to learn more about keeping your plants healthy and on track for maximum growth!

Q: What nutrients are most important for plant growth and at what levels?

A: The key is less about what level of nutrients exist and more about making the nutrients more bioavailable to your plant for absorption. The uptake is self-regulating as long as there are no limiting factors that might interfere with biochemical reactions and the symbiotic transportation between the bacteria and plant.

Plant growth promoting bacteria (PGPB) are critical in stimulating bioactivity that leads to the breakdown of various large molecule nutrients into simpler elemental forms. Therefore it is obviously necessary for the nutrients to be available in the hydroponic or soil mediums, but just as important is the bioactivity necessary to solubilize these nutrients.

You can learn more about PGPB and how they work in our earlier write up on the topic. But here’s another look at the key nutrients these beneficial bacteria assist with, and how:

Nitrogen Fixation

  • At most stages of growth, NO3 is preferred to NH3 for plant growth.
  • Nitrifying bacteria convert NH3 to NO2 to NO3.
  • Nitrifying bacteria also act in other ways as PGPB.
  • These two bacteria are slow to grow and difficult to stabilize without refrigeration, but BluePlanet has developed a stabilization process that allows for a 2-year shelf life without refrigeration.

Phosphorus Solubilization

  • Plants obtain their phosphorus from the soil, but a portion of phosphate applied as a fertilizer is not bioavailable to the plant.
  • Our phosphorus solubilizing bacteria have been introduced to the agricultural community to facilitate phosphate absorption.

Phytohormone Production

  • Plant hormones (also known as phytohormones) are chemicals that regulate plant growth. These include auxins (IAA), cytokinins, and ethylene.
  • Our Bacillus subtilis produce cytokinins to influence growth and endogenous hormone content.

Siderophore Production

  • With iron deficiency, PGPB manufacture siderophores (small proteins), which are excreted into the rhizosphere. The siderophore acts to sequester and solubilize the iron.
  • Plants take advantage of the siderophores whenever iron limitations exist.
  • Our Bacillus licheniformis is an excellent source of siderophores.

Q: How can I make sure that my nutrient composition is in balance and sustainable?

A: Depending on the medium, you will have different levels of existing nutrients. In most cases, you are analyzing the composition, so you are aware of any gross deficiencies.

Adding or compensating for these is usually a fairly straightforward process. The choices tend to be based on whether your inputs are to be organic or chemical compounds. Without commenting on that decision, the nutrient availability in both cases will still rely on bioactivity. There are issues of interaction between various nutrient inputs and plant responses. In general, whether you have obtained your nutrients from an organic tea or compost or commercial sources, the availability is still dependent on bacteria.

This symbiotic relationship has evolved between plants and bacteria over millions of years. Rhizome bacteria fill a niche where they are drawn to the root zone to share sugars and proteins provided by the plant, whereas the plant requires the bacteria to make the nutrients available.

Q: How can bacteria help to combat nutrient deficiency?

A: Bacteria does this by making nutrients more bioavailable, but this action also improves the plant’s health, vitality and its ability to resist environmental stress caused by external issues such as insect infestation, disease or fungal issues.

BluePlanet’s formulas are based on selecting individual bacteria based on their capabilities and ability to work within a consortium to address the plant’s needs. Each bacteria species is grown and stabilized individually so that we are able to enhance and target their enzyme production. This unique process gives BluePlanet’s formulas a significant advantage in terms of demonstrated performance, quality and crop yield.