"I started from home, just in my garage", says Alwin Scholten of PlantoSys, a company that produces plant-strengthening (fertilizer) substances of natural origin. "That was ten years ago. Because I know from experience the importance of good substantiation and measurable results, I have invested a lot in this from day one. First by extensive internal testing and later by having various tests carried out by WUR-Bleiswijk, Delphy (formerly DLV Plant) and Proeftuin Zwaagdijk. When the first results were very promising, I started in 2011 to market the first products in the Netherlands."
This year, the garage was replaced with a new building which includes an office, an in-house production facility and a laboratory that meets all modern requirements. PlantoSys currently has 9 colleagues, both domestically and even abroad. Yet also things have remained the same. "We continue to invest in research, on the one hand to further improve our products - with the help of continuous feedback from practice - and on the other hand to develop new applications. And we keep going back to the basics. Where an infestation comes from? Why does a plant not manage to resist it itself? Is there a shortage or can the plant be supported in another way? Thinking outside the box, we still do that."
Salicylic acid as a 'flu shot'
Alwin: "At the basis of almost all our products is the plant hormone salicylic acid. This is a plant-based substance that ensures that everywhere in the plant its own immune system is put on high alert. The plant will then produce defense proteins and enzymes quicker. These function as a kind of shield against infections. This requires a certain concentration of this salicylic acid. What we do is adding the hormone to the plant through spraying or by administering it via the root, in such a way that the concentration increases and the plant only needs to produce just a little salicylic acid in order to activate the defense mechanism. It works a bit like the flu shot in humans."
Less infections and more kilos thanks to use of plant hormone
PlantoSys' largest sales market is currently the soft fruit sector. Strawberry growers who suffered from the Erwinia infestation with flowers, approached PlantoSys with the question whether something could be done about it. "With dripping and LVM application techniques of, in this case SalicylPuur - our product based on stabilized natural salicylic acid – it turned out that infections could be limited.
A test from Delphi showed a crown rot reduction of more than 80% and a reduction of powdery mildew of more than 50%. In addition, more kilos were picked, because the fruits became heavier: about 2 to 3 grams per fruit. Because the plant is more vigorous, it can put more energy into the fruits. Practical experience confirms these Delphy findings."
Plant strengthening also solution for greenhouse horticulture
The greenhouse horticulture sector is now a strongly growing sector for PlantoSys, where the demand for plant-strengthening (fertilizer) substances is increasing. "Growers have less and less (chemical) products at their disposal, for example against mildew. Customers also impose ever stricter requirements, including regarding residues. With our products Ds-lime and ManZincum (including microzinc) we have an approach, for example for tomato growers, to help prevent russet mites. Without chemical products.
Furthermore, growers find that, when they intervene with chemical products or sulfur, the natural predators in the greenhouse are also killed. That does not happen with PlantoSys products."
Limiting russet mite pressure
"Over the past two years, we have been able to suppress russet mites at a tomato grower in the greenhouse for eight consecutive weeks. The high pH that arises makes the living environment unattractive for the russet mite. As a result, the russet mite multiplies less, produces fewer eggs and the russet mite pressure remains low. And this without (lime) residue: with about 100 to 125 grams of Ds-lime on 100 liters of water, the spray liquid remains clear. In the coming season, we will extend the test from one tap section to the entire greenhouse to see how long we can suppress the russet mites."
Alwin Scholten himself has been giving (cultivation) advice for years after the Advanced Horticultural School. He makes daily use of the knowledge and experience he gained as well as from the network he built up. For example, from the start he has worked closely with a dealer network, both domestically and abroad. "Our dealers have, within their own organization, various product specialists who can provide highly focused advice about the application of our products. So we reach our target groups with the most specialized knowledge and product application(s). For greenhouse horticulture, we work closely together with Royal Brinkman, among others."
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