Plater Bio, founded in 2016 in Glossop (Derbyshire, UK), has been developing Gold Leaf — a liquid fertilizer that contains every essential plant nutrient — for the last two years.
“The aim when creating Gold Leaf was not only to produce a product that contained every essential nutrient, but which was also buffered to the exact pH that plants need for optimal growth and with all the micronutrients in a chelated form in order to keep them available to the plant,” says Plater Bio founder Dr. Russell Sharp.
The immediate, and most obvious use for Gold Leaf is as a hydroponic fertilizer. Currently, hydroponic systems rely on two or three-part products that all need to be kept in separate tanks, blended, dosed, pH controlled, and monitored for electrical conductivity (EC). All these tasks need to be completed before fertilizer can be applied to the crop. In contrast, Gold Leaf is simply mixed with water at the desired rate and is then ready for use.
While Gold Leaf was initially designed for hydroponics, it is now being trialed in other agricultural systems, such as field crops. “We are finding there is a lot of interest in Gold Leaf from conventional farming,” Sharp adds. “This is because, as a complete nutrient solution, Gold Leaf reduces the number of products that need to be applied to a crop, thus saving farmers time, money, and water.”
While there are suspension products already available that contain lots of plant nutrients, they contain solid material suspended in liquid. The problem with suspension fertilizers is that the solid part (calcium phosphate and calcium sulphate) are completely insoluble, even when diluted down and left for days. This is not surprising as calcium phosphate is the principal component that makes animal bones. This means the calcium and phosphate are not available to the plant, plus the solid particles can block applicator filters.
The lack of calcium in conventional compound fertilizers has limited crop yields globally as calcium is essential for many metabolic processes in plants. This has meant crops regularly suffer from physiological disorders caused by calcium deficiency, such as Blossom End Rot in tomatoes, or Bitter Pit in apples. In addition, it is now widely accepted that modern fruit and vegetables contain far less mineral nutrients (such as calcium), which are essential for meeting human nutritional demands. As such, the team at Plater Bio believes Gold Leaf is set to become a major new tool employed by farmers in all sectors in the near future.
Gold Leaf is now being tested by potential distribution partners globally.