Put your best foot forward with a good foundation – root development

Management principles and tools to help winter crops develop maximum yield potential are the key take-home messages from Terrachem agronomist John Mulhare.

Earlier this year, on April 4, the agronomist discussed the importance of root development, as can be seen in the video below.

Key to plant performance is availability of sufficient water and nutrition – and the method by which plants access both are the roots.

In the video, John highlighted a new biostimulant product called Incite, introduced by Terrachem last spring and subsequently used with great success in many cereal crops.

A twin biostimulant formulation of phosphite and pidolic acid, Incite is designed to stimulate root development and early season growth.

‘Grow tubes’

Developed by the same company that brought Uplift ATG to the market, Incite has shown phenomenal results in trials conducted by the University of Nottingham.

Cereal plants grown in “grow tubes” were shown to develop 63% more roots and a subsequent 32% more shoot growth, from a single application of Incite at 0.75L/ha at GS14.

Studies like these are conducted in “grow tubes” as this is the only method by which the full mass of roots developed may be safely extracted from the growth medium intact, and then measured and weighed.

A sceptical mind might be forgiven for suggesting that impressive responses to growth and development such as those obtained would not be replicated in a field situation.

However, if you were to consider that opinion from a different angle, it is also fair to say that the results achieved at field level should deliver even greater relative responses, as crops grown in a field situation are prone to multiple stress factors which those in a laboratory situation are not.

In essence, the yield potential of a field-sown crop is being reduced from the date of sowing by any and all stress factors acting upon it such as, drought, soil structural issues, nutritional disorders, pest and disease incidence and extremes of weather.

Therefore, putting the best foot forward as early as possible in the life of the crop is essential. The faster a plant can develop its root structure the greater the potential for yield development.

Root development

While the key to plant performance is “availability of sufficient water and nutrition”, availability is a function of not just the presence of both of these factors, but also the plants ability to extract them from the soil.

As root mass and penetration within the soil increases, so too does water and nutrient uptake.

As mentioned, Incite is a new offering from the company that brought Uplift ATG to the market, with both products also containing pidolic acid, a signalling compound at the heart of the nitrogen assimilation cycle.

While Uplift ATG’s benefits to plant growth and yield are now widely accepted, the research conducted by the University of Nottingham went further to show that where Incite and Uplift ATG were used in sequence, the increase in root development over the untreated rose from 63% with Incite alone to a staggering 92% where this was followed by a later application of Uplift ATG.

Shoot development was also enhanced from 32% to 54% where both products were used in sequence.

Incite is available in 10L cans and has a use rate of up to 1.0L/ha, though typically 0.5-0.75L/aa is used.

While Incite has already been widely used in multiple tank mix scenarios, Terrachem advises that any physical tank mix requirements are first tested at farm level using the simple jug test.

This is because, given the range of herbicide and insecticide offerings now in the marketplace, it is impossible for manufacturers to test all potential tank mix scenarios.