Alternative methods of growing crops in a tough environment

PROGRESSIVE GROWERS today are looking for alternative growing methods for conventional farming and gardening. They are seeking alternatives to chemical sprays for fungicides and pesticides. Their desire is to become better and more efficient growers by developing a mind-set of sustainability as they come to understand harsh chemicals and overfertilization do much damage to the microbiological environment necessary for healthy plants, trees, and shrubs. As I have previously reported, compost is an excellent way to increase the microbial base in our non-sustainable soil environment.

Compost teas and extracts are another valuable tool to decrease undesirable fungus, algae, and mold pressures. By applying the tea to the soil where the breeding occurs for many disease-causing bacteria and fungi, the beneficial biology will consume the bad guys. Rates of 10 to 15 gallons per acre should be applied through the irrigation system two weeks prior to planting for inoculating the soil and then reapplied every 10 days at rates seven to 10 gallons per acre until crop is harvested. Compost tea may also be applied via foliar sprays, either air blast or hand sprayer and will immediately begin to reduce undesirable pathogens at rates of three to five gallons per acre, depending on seasonal pressure.

Bio stimulants are another tool growers can utilize to increase the immune system of the plant and allowing it to fight off unwanted disease pressure. One such product that I have personal experience with is a silicon (Si) 20 +/- % product. It promotes growth of the cell wall and increases the plant immune system, allowing it to work well in suppressing fungal pressure in all crops when applied in a foliar spray. Positive results using the Silicon product have been shown to reduce many undesirable soil-borne diseases when applied to the soil as well. Let’s think sustainability for future generations of farmers!

This column is sponsored by P&H Solutions, Inc.


column by CARSON A. FUTCH

BIO: As the owner of P&H Solutions, Inc., Carson A. Futch assists growers in Central Florida with organically composted soil amendments and other crop growing products. He is a Plant City native and a fifth generation Florida cracker who grew up on a working ranch and citrus operation. He received his B.S. in Agriculture from the University of Florida in 1981. During his 34-year career, Carson has been involved in various management and ownership aspects of production agriculture, harvesting, marketing, and agri-tourism. He has also been blessed to serve on various councils and committees for the betterment of his church, community, and the agricultural industry. For more information about Carson and P&H Solutions, Inc., visit

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