The Biochemical Sequence™
By Hugh Lovel
Beyond sulphur, the minerals plants need from soils have a certain hierarchy of importance. One thing must work before anything that depends on it can. The earlier deficiencies occur in this sequence the more everything else is affected. For example, silicon provides the capillary action that allows plants to draw water and nutrients from the soil. All biological transport vessels—to say nothing of cell walls and connective tissues—are rich in silicon. Silicon is most stable when it forms four chemical bonds. However, boron, which loves to react with silicon, can only form three bonds. This leaves silicon unsatisfied and seeking a fourth electron partnership. It only takes a small amount of boron to make silicon thirsty for water and electrolytes—which means boron is the key to sap pressure. Without it silicon cannot take up water and nutrients from the soil.
Of course, both boron and silicon are essential for plants to take up other nutrients such as calcium and amino acids. Without adequate boron and silicon, the protein chemistry and enzyme activity of the plant—particularly chlorophyll and photosynthesis—will suffer.
Furthermore, phosphorous is essential for all energy transfers in both soil and plants, from soaking up energy via chlorophyll, to microbes breaking down soil carbon for energy. Because phosphorus transfers energy, it energizes the complex processes in soil and plant chemistry. It is essential for utilizing iron, copper, zinc, manganese, cobalt, molybdenum and traces of lesser significance. Even though energy first enters via photosynthesis, phosphorous and the various trace elements play a huge role in the soil foodweb in providing nourishment for crops from root emergence onward.
Lastly, potassium, the electrolyte, is responsible for all the electronic communication and movement processes going on in the plant starting with nutrient flow and the opening and closing of doorways in cell walls.
Understandably NPK fertilisation, which breaks down organic matter and disrupts the soil foodweb, works in the short term because it solubilizes reserves, but in the long term it peters out and loses effectiveness as reserves are depleted. This ignores the biochemical sequence as well as the relationship of micronutrients with sulphur and phosphorous. The truth is NPK fertilisers destroy soil biology and ignore the biochemical sequence, as N, P and K are not of primary importance.
More of the Story
Although the Biochemical Sequence can help to determine the key deficiencies when soils do not perform, in living soils everything happens in an integrated way. Above ground phosphorous follows magnesium, but in the soil foodweb phosphorous is the key to energy availability. Soil microbes need phosphorous to release energy from the carbohydrates crop seeds give off as they sprout. Thus most planting formulas include phosphorous and its co-factor trace elements to get seeds and their symbiotes off to a good start.
However, if the soil reserves of phosphorous and its co-factors are depleted, the Actinomycetes and mycorrhizal fungi will struggle instead of providing access to nutrient reserves.
It shouldn’t need emphasis, but nitrogen fixation depends on soil biology. It requires abundant energy as well as the availability of calcium and certain trace elements. The abundance of energy is determined by the efficiency of photosynthesis, which depends on sap pressure and amino acid rather than salt nitrogen uptake from the soil. Sap pressure depends on microbial symbiosis to access boron and silicon at crop roots. Probably the most important microbes in this regard are the Actinomycetes, which are the source of many antibiotics and are responsible for the clean smell of healthy soil. By forming a fine fuzz growing outward from young roots, they build as well as provide access to the nutrients in clay/humus colloids. Often they live as endophytes within crop tissues and may be found in their seeds. Because they work at the beginning of the biochemical sequence to break down clay/humus structures and release boron and silicon, the Actinomycetes and mycorrhizal fungi, provide optimum plant nutrition. In return this ensures plentiful root exudation in the active root zone and an excellent habitat for nitrogen fixing microbes and other microbial symbiotes, which again provides optimum plant nutrition. This activity can be seen as soil adhesion around plant roots and a delicate, dense, finely branched root development. This never occurs with heavy applications of soluble NPK fertilisers as they create salty conditions that inhibit both Actinomycetes and mycorrhizal fungi.
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Biochemical Sequence of Nutrition in Plants
Plant Biochemical begin with:
1. Boron, which activates
2. Silicon, which carries all other nutrients
3. Calcium, which binds
4. Nitrogen to form amino acids, DNA and
cell division. Amino acids form proteins
such as chlorophyll and tag trace
5. Magnesium, which transfers energy via
6. Phosphorus to
7. Carbon to form sugars, which go where
8. Potassium carries them.
This is the basis of plant growth.