Measuring Brix levels as a means of measuring Plant Productivity
What is Brix?
Brix or Total Dissolved Solids [TDS] is measured with a refractometer, whereby a sample of plant sap is place on the refractometer and the light refracts through a prism and measures the total dissolved solids [ which is mainly sugar , but also does include minerals] in the plant sap. This measurement is from 0 to 32 Brix on most refractometers, but other refractometers can go to as high as 50 brix. Most healthy plants/fruits should have a brix reading of above 12 for them to be sweet tasting.
Why is Brix measurement important?
The brix really is very important as it is a direct measurement of how the plant is performing, as all plants use 6 molecules of water and 6 molecules of carbon dioxide with the radiation from the sun to make 1 molecule of basic sugar and 6 molecules of oxygen. The one molecule of sugar produced in the photosynthesis process is the foundational building block for everything we see growing above and below ground in the form of leaves, stems, tree trunks, branches, fruit, bulbs, grain, roots and even algae. So when we measure the sugar levels in plants it directly corresponds to how much sugar production has taken place in the plant. Please look at the 3 brix readings averaged on the wheat trial in Western Australia:
Product Brix Applications Average Brix for the control 9.50 Nil Treatment Average Brix for the Protein Plus 11.50 10 Liters/80 Liters Water Average Brix for the K.Sioff 12.25 1.5 liters/80lts water Average Brix for Adjuvant 12.80 1.5 liters/80lts water
This shows that the Adjuvant has a 33% higher brix level than the control, and an expected higher yield than the control because the sugar molecules are the building blocks for everything growing above ground level. The application of Adjuvant was 166mls, and its quite remarkable that such a small amount can have such a profound influence on a crop. This is because plants are electro- magnetic and Adjuvant basically connects all the cells electrically and they start working more efficiently. This effect gradually declines over time and it would be good for you to do some of your own research on your crops to find out how your plants are effected or behave under your own conditions.
Higher Sugar readings also prove that the plant is using more carbon dioxide in this case 33% more. A tonne of grain in the form of Maize or Rice requires approx 5.5 tonnes of pure carbon dioxide to produce 1 tonne of grain, and I can safely say that carbon dioxide is the biggest limiting factor in crop production.
How to take brix readings.
It is important to to always take the Brix readings at the same time of the day, preferably at midday.
Early morning readings will be lower and late afternoon readings will be higher, because we are looking at the production of the plant as a sugar factory which starts in the morning when the sun come up and closes down when the sun goes down.
After spraying with Adjuvant wait for 3-4 days before reading brix levels to allow time for it to get into the plant and make a difference.
Factors which can influence sugar production in plants are when you have overcast and/or rainy days. This needs to be taken into account if you are monitoring Brix levels for long periods of time. Poor nutrition, and a lack of water.
How do you get sap from a plant?
Most soft leaved plants are fairly simple to extract plant sap from. I use a garlic crusher which is readily available from supermarkets. The harder more difficult leaves for example macadamia and avocado, it is best to get an engineer to design and make a press for you [ I can also supply them from Australia for $170.00 each including postage], what can also help is to mince the leaves up and then immediately put the material in your garlic crusher press. It is also important not to let the sap evaporate as this concentrates the sap and can give false readings.
Where to get Refractometers.
There are two types of refractometer, The simple type cost approx $175.00 Au $'s, but it does need to be calibrated with distilled water which has a 0 Brix reading. The other type is an digital, http://www.misco.com, which costs approx $350 US dollars and if you search the internet you will find several suppliers. With this type of equipment it always pays to buy good quality as there is a large amount of inferior products on offer, and you don't want data that is not accurate.
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