Author: David Marks

Understanding Nitrogen Key To Higher Potato Yields

Nitrogen is the most used and least understood of all agricultural inputs. It is well known that typically only a third of applied N taken up by crops. However the effect form of N has on how and where crops grow is less well understood, and offers great potential to increase yields. Nitrogen can be taken up as amine (NH2), Ammonium (NH4) or nitrate (NO3), but due to conversion by bacteria the vast majority of N applied to crops is taken up as nitrate. “Growing Tubers Not Leaves” It is nitrogen uptake that dictates how fast and where crops...

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Calcium and strawberry quality – why so erratic?

Calcium can improve firmness and quality but is poorly absorbed by maturing soft fruit. Most growers know that calcium is important for soft fruit, as it can improve cell wall strength which has a positive effect on shelf life, firmness and ability to withstand diseases. However when you look at the scientific evidence it becomes clear that the calcium applied to crops like strawberries does not always end up in the fruit. Calcium is poorly observed by maturing strawberry fruit therefore a lot of the calcium farmers apply to their crops is wasted as ripening fruit are not able...

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Reducing Salt Stress

At Levity our research team has a strong focus on abiotic stress, which is the main limiting factor in Southern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa for both yield and quality of crops. Here we look at how the climate and soil conditions found in the region affect crop production. In the arid and semi-arid parts of the world crop stress is extreme, with soils, water quality and temperature variation (high day / low night), extreme photo-oxidative stress and soil with high pH and salt levels. Although these stresses are all different, they all result in excess production...

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Southern lights (Part 2): Photo-oxidative stress and fruit calcium

The Southern hemisphere nations of Peru, Argentina Bolivia, Chile, New Zealand and South Africa all receive heightened levels of UV with a higher UVB levels due to the ozone layer being thinner there. So why does this matter to fruit growers? farmers in high UV regions also have a harder time correcting physiological disorders. Lets discuss why photo-oxidative stress can affect this. Stress (any stress) including UV stress triggers movement of calcium from the cell wall into the interior of the cell where it is involved in triggering production of the stress hormone ethylene, this is sometimes termed ‘second...

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Southern Lights (part 1): Photo-Oxidative stress and fruit colour.

Farmers in the Southern hemisphere growing soft and top fruit crops have to work harder to get colour, and shelf-life and to reduce physiological disorders. In this article I will discuss the role light plays in this, its effects on plant physiology and what farmers can do agronomically to deal with it. UV radiation from the sun is necessary for all life on earth, and put to good use by plants during photosynthesis, but too much of a good thing can be dangerous. UV levels and UVA /  UVB balance are not uniformly distributed around the earth, and the...

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Beating Clubroot with Crop Science.

First recorded in antiquity, clubroot is a brassica disease caused by the soil-bourne protist Plasmodiophera brassicae that affects all agriculturally important crucifer species. The disease is widespread and present in all temperate zones of the world with 10-15% of the world brassica crop lost to clubroot every year. In the UK alone clubroot infection causes £30million of crop losses annually. The characteristic symptom is root galling or ‘clubbing’, which leads to daytime wilting and nutrient deficiency due to reduced ability of the roots to transport food and water to the growing plant. Levity has developed a fertiliser that allows plants to...

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Using Nutritional Products More Efficiently

Levity are at the forefront of research into nutrient use efficiency with research programmes on all major crop nutrients. Our work is helping reduce the amount of fertiliser needed whilst lifting yield and crop quality. In this article Levity’s David Marks and Anna Weston discuss why nutrient use efficiency is important, and how Levity are working to improve it. Fertilisers are an essential part of modern farming, without them global food production would more than halve. However fertiliser production and use is a major contributor to global warming and to environmental pollution. With the most used nutrient Nitrogen, crops...

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