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Systemic. What a word! To some it may sound sticky; others may deem it too scientific and then gloss right over it. I urge you to do just the opposite and explore the benefits of this powerful concept.

To quote one of my favorite authors Marty Neumer, “When everybody zigs, zag!” Well then, let’s ZAG!  Instead of only looking at the current trends, let’s try and seek out other approaches to fighting plant disease and pests that may be just as good. Better yet, let’s be innovative and invest in processes that we can build on for tomorrow’s future.

The definition of systemic is: of, relating to, or affecting the entire body or an entire organism.

Systemic acquired resistance (SAR) is a phenomenon whereby the plant is stimulated to manufacture greater-than-normal amounts of defensive substances. By producing higher levels of these pathogenesis-related proteins the plant is better able to fend off the pressures and weather and disease*.

It makes sense to me that we should nurture our plants to better defend themselves rather than always relying on the use of chemicals and other harsh practices, when they are under attack. For example, when we as humans feel a cold coming on often times we ramp up on our intake of orange juice because of its vitamin C content. The makers of Uncle Matt’s (a brand of organic orange juice that can’t be surpassed), and Florida’s Natural must love my colleagues and I around flu-season each year. All our lives we have heard doctors say that it is a good way to fend of the virus. So as a result we increase uptake during flu season. And there’s the... An apple a day keeps the doctor away... Simply put, it’s about being PROACTIVE!

Taking the Airborne product has a similar premise for warding of the flu as does drinking orange juice for humans—It’s about kicking the cold before it even hits you. But in gardening, flowering, and the agribusiness we typically wait for the pressures to hit us, and then react. It’s only when we see insect pressures and disease happening that we do something about it. Let’s turn this trend on its head and start looking at things from a proactive standpoint and see where things take us.

Whether you are a backyard gardener or oversee an 800 acre operation, it pays to be proactive instead of reactive. Doling out money time-after-time to remedy the same situation is not productive. Which would you prefer? I would hedge my bets on the former.

I believe that “systemic” is one of the concepts of the future as growers continue to try and understand the plant as a system from the inside out. Fertilizing on the ground will only take us so far, and I believe that the use of systemics will enable us to go to the next level when it comes to plant nutrition and plant health. The benefits of coupling systemics with foliar applications far outweigh the soil drenching of fertilizers and other harsh chemicals. With regulations cracking down on over applications of fertilizers and their effects on the environment where do you think we should look?  Think “nature friendly” and “systemic” the next time you’re out and about.


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