Bioguide #4

Growing nutrient dense food

How soil biostimulants improve mineral uptake and help grow nutrient dense food.

Today’s food is often calorie-dense but low in nutrients. Low nutrient density in our foods is often cited as a cause of human health issues such as obesity.

Understanding the causes of nutrient-poor food requires stepping back into the growing cycle and starting from the ground up.

Plants grow by taking up nutrients from the soil, but this process can be limited by the amount and type of nutrients in the soil and by their plant-availability.

One of the advantages of biologically active, healthy soils is that a range of microbes can “release” minerals in the soil by changing their form to be more absorbable by plants. This process of making soil nutrients more available is called mineralisation. When plants grow in soils where more minerals are available, they take up more and this grows nutrient-dense food for people.

Not only are these nutrients important for human nutrition, but they are also key to extending shelf life and improving flavour.

To demonstrate how stimulating soil biology improves plant nutrient uptake and helps grow nutrient-dense food, we completed several nutrition trials after using our biostimulant Mycorrcin [link]. This product activates beneficial soil microbes (particularly mycorrhizal fungi) which leads to increased soil uptake of soil nutrients and acts as a secondary root structure, allowing the plant to mine a bigger volume of soil to obtain more nutrients.

The results across several crops include:

  • Improved nutrient uptake in lettuces. Lettuces treated with Mycorrcin (and our leaf health spray Foliacin [link] had increased uptake of calcium, potassium and magnesium by 19, 27 and 25% respectively.

Table 1. Impact of Mycorrcin on Lettuce Nutrient Uptake (Pukekohe, New Zealand 2019)

Lettuce Trial Pukekohe 2019 Standard Foliacin + Mycorrcin Difference
Potassium 7.7 9.2 19%
Calcium 1.35 1.71 27%
Magnesium 0.36 0.45 25%
  • Improved nutrient uptake and taste in apples. In a long-term trial with Royal Gala apples in Hawkes Bay (NZ), the regular application of Mycorrcin (and our crop breakdown product Digester [link]) led to improved calcium, magnesium and potassium levels. In apples, calcium levels are important for extending shelf life and reducing the presence of bitter pip. In blind taste tests, the Mycorrcin treated apples had a better flavour and were preferred by testers.

Table 2. Impact of Mycorrcin on Nutrients in Royal Gala Apples (Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand 20XX)

Royal Gala Apples Median range Untreated Biostart treated % change
Calcium (mg/100g) 7.0–11.0 7.1 7.7 8.5%
Potassium (mg/100g) 115–150 112 115 2.7%
Magnesium (mg/100g) 6.0–9.0 5.1 5.3 3.9%
  • Improved nutrient uptake and flavour in grapes. In a long-term trial in Marlborough, New Zealand, with Pinot Noir grapes, regular Mycorrcin applications increased the levels of calcium and magnesium by 12 and 15% respectively at veraison (the ripening of the grapes). In subsequent analysis of the juice from these grapes, Mycorrcin-treated grapes had better colour (anthocyanins), flavour, mouthfeel and aroma – all features key to making better wine.

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