by Elizabeth A. Tomlin
John Kempf, founder and CEO of Advancing Eco Agriculture, presented an informational seminar focusing on methods of optimizing soil composition and nutrient application to achieve essential functional immunity and regeneration of plants.
“Healthy plants resist insects and disease,” Kempf stated, pointing out that these are not his original ideas, but that there is much documentation to back up this theory.
In a three-hour lecture Kempf described how plant physiology, mineral nutrition and soil microbiology will work together through biological and regenerative farming, to increase yields 6-8 times.
“Once we understand the soil-plant system and the principles that drive that system, we can figure out where the triggers are, where we can exert a small amount of influence and get a really big response. We need to start measuring the amount of protein per acre.”
Kempf showed charts of plants and root systems and how they interact with the soil. He explained that imbalances within the plant effect the soil, which in turn affects the health of the plant.
“Healthy plants create healthy soil in as little as 6 weeks. We can build soil health organically while growing crops.”
Kempf reported that most farmers are only harvesting 10 to 15 percent of the inherent genetic capacity of their crop because of unhealthy plants and soil.
“The greatest point of yield influence is early in plant life. For example, 9-12 days after germination, a corn seedling will determine the number of ears that it has the potential to produce. Most have the genetic capacity to produce seven to nine ears. Where do we lose our yield potential?”
Kempf showed where yield is lost due to stress during “narrow windows” of time when plant performance is determined. Although much stress, such as weather, cannot be controlled, if the plant and soil are healthy, the plant will still reach its peak potential. “You can reduce stress impact by having a healthy root system.”
Building a “digestive system in the soil” through mineralization, humification and carbon induction.
“Carbon induction has the greatest potential of any source to build large amounts of stable humic substances, stimulate biology, and improve soil and plant health.”
Kempf explained that plant exudes a variety of amino acids and lipids into the root system, which then builds the soil providing more nutrition to the plant.
To enhance the opportunity for the plant to reach its innate potential it needs to reach its capacity to fully synthesize.
“If plants have complete nutrition, two things begin to happen. First, of all leaf shape will change. You’ll get larger leaves, which result in a larger photosynthetic area. You’ll get much thicker leaves. The second thing is, you’ll get much greater concentrations of chlorophyll per square inch of leaf area. All of this equates to greater sugar production and promotes photosynthetic efficiency.”
Kempf explained that as plants become healthier and have greater photosynthetic efficiency they produce higher levels of sugars and, thus, energy. Plants then begin to build high levels of lipids, which store energy in the plant the same way that fats are stored in animals. “Once a plant has surplus energy it is stored as fat.”
Kempf said the higher levels of lipids are stored inside plant cells to build stronger cell membranes and reproductive tissue. These stronger plants are able to protect themselves from air-borne fungal and bacterial pathogens such as downy and powdery mildew, late blight, bacterial speck, bacterial spot and other diseases, and, according to Kempf, will resist and actually repel insect pests.
“Many of these lipids will also be exuded from the roots into the rhizosphere, where they will be used as an energy source by soil microbes. These lipids in the rhizosphere are an important piece of the puzzle in building stable humic substances.”
Kempf said that although there are several types of digestion in the rhizosphere, the best results come from soils with “a strong fungal dominated digestive system.”
Foliar feeding and soil amendments to increase plant health are recommended.
“I’m a strong believer in soil amendments, however, foliars are consistently undervalued and underutilized. They are the fastest and most effective way to have truly regenerative farming systems.”
Foliar feeding has been proved to be efficient in boosting plant development at specific physiological stages and provides additional nutrients.
Kempf displayed photographs of thriving blueberry plants, tomato plants and others that were tremendous in size, overflowing with produce and with enormous leaves, which had been grown through the advancing agriculture method, with no pesticides or fungicides.
Kempf said there is much research being done showing that functional immunity of plants can then be transferred to the people and animals that consume them. This concerns plant secondary metabolites (PSM), which, since the late 20th century, have been recognized as having physiological effects in humans and are commonly used in pharmaceuticals and food additives. An example of how PSM have become widely recognized is through the use of red wine, blueberries, tomatoes and watermelons in boosting the immune systems in people.
Another concept brought to the attention of the audience, is the use of plant sap analysis. Kempf demonstrated that plant nutritional status could be monitored through this method of analysis with a greater level of accuracy than through tissue analysis.
Plant sap analysis extracts sap from within the plant cell and will pick up a mineral imbalance 3-6 weeks earlier than tissue analysis. “Even with all agricultural breakthrough and research, I have never been as excited by anything as I am with plant sap analysis technology!”
Kempf said this technology could predict plant disease in a plant 5-8 weeks before emergence. “This is the most accurate indicator available we have of plant health.”
“We have a huge opportunity to manage our soil and plant health to produce regenerative models of agriculture that are constantly getting better and better,” Kempf concluded.