In agriculture, kaolin is often utilized in pest control. However, kaolin uses in agriculture are, in fact, beyond that. It not only protects plants from external attacks but also improves the quality of the produce. The knowledge of its right use is important to gain the benefits.
The Advantages of Kaolin for Plants
What are the uses of kaolin clay in agriculture other than protecting plants from insects? The following list shows the clay’s advantages in planting:
1. Protecting Plants from Sunburn
It isn’t easy to maintain certain plants in an extremely sunny environment, particularly those with thin skin like tomatoes. They might develop sunburn on their surface. Applying kaolin clay can help reduce the severity of sunburn on the produce’s skins.
2, Protecting Nutrients in the Soil
Kaolin uses in agriculture are highly encouraged because of its non-toxic properties. When using harsher chemical substances on the plants, you are risking disturbance of their surrounding environment. It can reduce the nutrients in the soil over time. Kaolin does not cause such defects.
3. Enhancing Colors
Coating the plant with kaolin will reduce exposure to the sun. The color will be protected as it grows up because sunlight can break down colors. Thus, when the plant is harvested, the color will look very vibrant. Bright-colored produce sells better in the market.
4. Increasing Water Use Efficiency
An interesting study found that kaolin coating is capable of saving water use up to 25% of the usual amount. This amount is very significant, as the water supply can be volatile in some areas. Farmers would be able to conserve water and reduce production costs with kaolin.
5. Improving Yield
Another finding of kaolin clay use in agriculture is that it improves yield. A study was conducted on a blueberry plantation. It found that applying kaolin before the fruit has been set will increase the yield. As the kaolin supports photosynthesis, flower production also increases. The residue does not impair the fruit’s presentation.
6. Friendly to Bees
Maintaining the ecosystem is important in agriculture. Kaolin clay is an eco-friendly substance as it does minimum damage to the ecosystem. Plants coated by kaolin clay remain visited by bees, which is important for its flower budding. Bees maintain balance in the ecosystem.
Tips for Kaolin Uses in Agriculture
Knowing how to utilize kaolin in agriculture properly is important. Here are some tips to make use of the clay for enhanced production:
- Reapplying kaolin coating when there are new leaves
- Reapplying kaolin coating after heavy rains
- Applying kaolin coating on newly developed fruits
- Checking the coating weekly to see if the clay film has worn off
- Using a hand-held spray wand to apply the coating on plants
- Applying three uniformed coatings in the first step
- Having at least one plant nearby uncoated as a control system
- Cleaning the residue after each harvest before planting another crop
- Avoid mixing kaolin with oil as it reduces the efficacy of the clay
Kaolin uses in agriculture should not be overdone. There are cases when overdoing the application eventually leads to poor petal development. The number of petals falling might be excessive too. Besides, it can induce the attack of red mites.
Recipe for Kaolin Use
How to make an effective kaolin clay coating for your plants? There are homemade and store-bought options. For the homemade, you should follow this composition:
- A quart of fine kaolin clay
- 2 gallons of clean water
- A tablespoon of liquid soap (use the less harsh one)
The composition can be halved, doubled, or even tripled, depending on your need. It is highly recommended to mix the coating and apply it right away to the plants. It might be difficult for new farmers to predict the required amount initially, but it comes with practice.
Prior to harvesting, the clay needs to be removed from the produce. To do that, farmers should rub off the clay with a clean towel. It might not be efficient to wash the produce with water as you need to dry them to prevent the crops from rotting quickly. For a high-volume crop, that would take a very long time.
Kaolin uses in agriculture have been dated back to ancient China. The benefits for the plants go beyond preventing pest attacks. The clay can increase the quality and quantity of production. It only depends on if you are utilizing the clay properly.