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Foliar Application of Fermented Plant Juice (FPJ)

Fermented plant juice (FPJ) is a natural farming treatment that uses local microorganisms to make available nutrients found in organic wastes. These nutrients can include many micro and macronutrients, humic acids, and amino acids. Additionally, some bacteria can produce hormones like cytokinins and gibberellins that are essential for plant growth and development.

The lack of a controlled laboratory setting in producing FPJ makes the content of any given batch variable, with potential for allelopathic and pathogenic effects on the crop. However, FPJ is more accessible and economical than EM (effective microorganisms, usually a proprietary mixture of anaerobic microorganisms that are cultured in a laboratory. For this trial, I used Quantum-LightⓇ.), and uses locally available ingredients to make. One can make FPJ with a good container, plant materials, and sugar/molasses.

For this trial, FPJ was applied on the leaves (i.e. foliarly) of grain sorghum at 1:800 or 1:500 dilutions. Control plots were sprayed with water or EM to compare the effect of FPJ with commercially available EM or no treatment at all. The FPJ was made with a recipe from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, and with plant matter from Hibiscus acetosella (Cranberry Hibiscus), Bidens alba (Spanish Needle), and Mucuna pruriens (Velvet Bean).

Below is an aerial view of the treatment plot right before flowering.

Results

Sorghum samples from each treatment were collected at harvest maturity. The figures below display the average root to shoot ratio and average seedhead mass for all four treatments.

Given these results, there may be some benefit to applying a 1:800 dilution FPJ to sorghum crops for grain production. The 1:800 had a much higher root to shoot ratio than the 1:500 and EM, and a higher grain yield than all the other treatments.

These results suggest that there is a point where FPJ concentration appears to have negative marginal returns-- meaning that more is not always better. In this trial, this occurred somewhere between 1:800 and 1:500 dilution FPJ. Additional research could investigate ideal dilution rates for foliarly applied FPJ, or compare the effectiveness of foliar application to using FPJ as a soil drench.

Additionally, results suggest that some FPJ mixtures may contribute to similar or improved yields compared to those of commercially available EM-treated sorghum.

Have you foliarly applied natural farming treatments to your crops? What plant materials have you used with what kind of results?

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