Improving Photosynthetic Efficiency

January 16, 2023

Plants have the potential to dramatically improve their level of photosynthetic efficiency, or production of sugars, as discussed in The Implications of Higher Brix.

Plants obviously need sunlight and carbon dioxide to photosynthesize, along with water. But when these conditions are satisfied, what can be done to get these plants, the solar panels, into peak efficiency; into maximum sugar production?

From a minerals perspective, we could discuss practically every nutrient and find some way that it correlates to photosynthetic efficiency; however, in interest of simplification, we will focus on a few key minerals:

First are the three minerals that turn plants dark green: Nitrogen, Magnesium, and Iron. Nitrogen is at the top of the list because without it, there is no chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the green pigment that attracts and captures sunlight. The darker green, the more effective it is; this is provided that the greening isn’t coming from nitrate. Nitrate, while providing nitrogen, actually takes a large amount of energy away from the plant. It is so much better to get nitrogen from amino acids or natural forms of nitrogen derived from plants or animals. Remember that energy production is not the only thing that matters; it’s really the total sum of usable energy that matters. And the double whammy when nitrate is present is that insects will likely also be present, which again takes energy away from the plants, just like parasites do in animals or humans. Sometimes these insects are so small that you don’t even notice them with the human eye. And Magnesium: similar to nitrogen, Magnesium is involved in the chlorophyll molecule and thus helps turn plants dark green; it is actually in the center of the chlorophyll molecule and connects the 4 atoms of Nitrogen. In addition, Magnesium activates about 300 enzymes in the plant. Iron helps to put everything together.

Next is Manganese: In order for plants to utilize water, it has to go through a process called water hydrolysis, which is simply splitting the water molecule, which is H2O, into H and OH.  This process, in our understanding, is COMPLETELY dependent upon manganese. So we need manganese if we want efficient water utilization.

Next is Phosphorus:  Phosphorus contributes energy to the plant. When phosphorus is deficient, it is like running an engine without the clutch in gear.

Plants also need Calcium. The question is how to explain it; does anyone really understand how calcium works? Yet it is one of the foundational nutrients needed for higher brix and improving plants’ natural resistance to pests and disease. Sometime we can make an entire topic out of calcium. It is noteworthy, though, when plants have enough calcium and phosphorus, it’s easier to maintain levels of other nutrients.

Now for an interesting tidbit – research is indicating that Silica positions the plant for optimal photosynthesis. Think of how solar panels are positioned to capture sunlight most effectively, that is also how our plants must be positioned. And silica apparently helps with that. And it also helps prevent brix leaks, or loss of energy due to multiple stresses.

Potassium also has a dramatic effect on brix content, because it controls the opening and closing of the stomata, which regulates carbon dioxide uptake, etc.

And finally, we talk a little about boron. Boron is important for higher brix in part because it mobilizes calcium, but also because it sends sugars downward to the roots, and then out into the soil to feed the microbes. We find that when we add boron, the brix will drop for a day or two, but then will typically spike several days later.

It is also interesting that the higher the organic matter is in your soil, the longer the brix levels will be sustained during cloudy weather. This is due to the fulvic acid content in organic matter. Fulvic acid is like the second sun.

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Source: Melvin Fisher | Sponsored by Keystone Bio-Ag, LLC