The program contains more than 900 individual recommendations – the most suitable one of which is chosen by considering the crop type, variety, growing media, growth phase, and the water source. Growers must also select which fertilizer products they prefer and, as ICL’s technical manager Andrew Wilson explains, they have a choice of several, world-renowned, high-quality fertilizer ranges to choose from as part of the company’s Grow, Nurture, Protect offering.
Peters’ and its special ingredient – M77
Arguably, the water-soluble Peters range – which incorporates the multi-purpose Peters Professional and Peters Excel for hard and soft water – is a bit like treating young plants to a gourmet meal. Wilson asserts: "Quality wise, Peters is without doubt the best fertilizer on the market because no ballast substances are used. What that means is that everything that’s in it is an existing plant nutrient. So, the beauty of it is that it’s a very pure product." He notes, for example, that rather than using (the salt) potassium sulphate ICL uses potassium nitrate as this is a mineral that occurs in nature.
Moreover, Peters’ low salt content means that it has low EC (electrical conductivity) levels. Wilson says: "EC increases when you add liquid feed to water. But plants can only tolerate a certain EC level. So, if you’ve got a feed that has a very low EC it means that you can add more without causing damage. This is the reason why Peters is really good for young, sensitive, high-value crops."
Another notable feature of the Peters range is the fact that it contains the highest trace element level of all the ICL water soluble fertilizer ranges. Wilson explains that the plants take up these minerals thanks to Peters’ special M-77 chelating formula. The chelating process sees the organic molecules, EDTA and DTPA, form a "claw" around very reactive molecules such as iron. This stops them from reacting with other parts of the solution and enables the plants to take them up. "Back in the late 1940s [the eponymous] Bob Peters did a lot of research to find out which compounds were beneficial to plant growth. They tried hundreds of mixes and Mix 77 was the best combination and so M-77 was born. But it’s not something that stands still. ICL is always trying to further improve it."
The nutrients and micronutrients in Peters are blended at different ratios – offering growers a choice of 14 different variants of Peter’s Professional for different methods of application (such as irrigating and foliar feeding), specialist crops such as poinsettias, and particular growth phases, such as rooting and flowering.
Products include, for example:
- Blossom Booster, for improving bud formation and development,
- Plant Finisher, for the later stages of development, and
- Poinsettia Mix, which encourages strong root growth.
Moreover, Peters Excel incudes a range of products for both hard and soft water growing environments. Wilson explains: "It’s all about addressing the balance in the water. Once you’ve done that your water has a much greater availability of nutrients to the plant. Soft water is very pure and lovely to use but it’s got no calcium or magnesium in there so we need to supplement that. In hard water, we need to reduce its bicarbonate so we get rid of it by acidifying it."
The Peters Excel range includes the single-tank mix formula CalMag Grower, CalMag Finisher, Hard Water Grow Special and Hard Water Finisher.
Osmocote Controlled Release Fertilizers (CRFs)
ICL’s controlled release fertilizer (CRF) range, Osmocote – one of the firm’s world-renowned brands – is another option for growers. Much like a vitamin tablet bursting with microscopic "goodies", these little, coated, fertilizer balls (which contain NPK – and, depending on the product, they can also contain magnesium and other trace elements) are added to the growing media.
Thanks to the brand’s most advanced, fourth-generation technology, the fertilizer’s ingredients and release rate can be cleverly calibrated to fit the needs of the crop. Wilson notes: "The thickness of the coating reflects how fast the fertilizer will release. For example, a 3-4 month product will have a very thin coating, while a 12-14 month product will have a thicker coating. It’s the thickness of the coating that gives it the longevity."
The Osmocote range therefore includes many different options for the industry – such as Osmocote Bloom specifically designed for annuals in small pots or Osmocote Start for crops with a short cultivation cycle.
Evidently, ICL’s extensive fertilizer portfolio – coupled with its expert advisors and advanced AngelWeb technology – ensures that growers can nurture their crops in the best possible way.
- This is content produced in partnership with ICL