Innovators By Nature

Innovators By Nature

Growers are curious by nature. They’re forward thinking and open to new practices that result in a more vigorous and profitable crop. And, increasingly, they’ve been willing to go outside their traditional chemical comfort zone to reap the benefits of cutting-edge, biological-based products.

RootShield, a root biofungicide from BioWorks, is one of the products that has growers talking about the rewards of innovation–and the science behind it.

“We had been working with our BioWorks sales rep, Rich Reineke, and he put me in touch with several other growers who were using the product in one form or another,” says Matt Stonecipher, a grower at Cumberland Trails Growers in St. Elmo, Ill. “Through his perseverance and positive feedback from other growers, we decided to give it a try and the rest is history.”

Roger McGaughey of Michael’s Greenhouse in
Connecticut shows off the root system of an
argeranthemum treated with RootShield.

After trialing PlantShield (a forerunner of the new RootShield WP formulation) on mums, Stonecipher says he witnessed clear results that proved the product was worth using. “The same varieties that had been treated in one area were of uniform size, shape, plant color, with nearly no losses, while the same varieties without treatment were still nice plants but had less vigor, less uniformity and a lighter shade of green.”

Now, Cumberland Trails’ entire product line receives RootShield.

How It Works

RootShield works by protecting plant roots from harmful pathogens. This allows plants to grow more vigorously. RootShield contains dormant spores of the well-proven active ingredient Trichoderma harzianum strain T-22. Once applied to a growing medium, the spores germinate and the mycelium that emerges from the spores coil around plant roots and any plant pathogen propagules that are present.

Then, things get interesting. RootShield works in two ways: First, it gets to pathogen-preferred sites on the root first and denies access to the roots to diseases like Pythium, Fusarium, Rhizoctonia and Thielaviopsis. Second, it secretes enzymes that dissolve an invading pathogen’s cell walls.

Roger McGaughey, a grower at Michael’s Greenhouse in Cheshire, Conn., finds the science behind RootShield fascinating and enjoys telling other growers how the product works.

“When it comes down to it, you want to use something good to knock out the bad. That’s kind of basic plant science,” McGaughey says. “I think I’ve been explaining how it works to other people too much.”

McGaughey started using RootShield back in 2005 and later helped with the trials on the product’s wettable powder formulation, testing two different materials to find out which one worked best. Today, Michael’s Greenhouse uses drenching rigs to apply the product on everything it grows.

“We use RootShield on everything we grow. Everything. No exceptions,” McGaughey says. “We always get nice, white root systems without exception, and our plants grow faster. I have absolutely noticed that. I have also noticed we’re using less fertilizer because the plants have better root systems and they take up the fertilizer more efficiently. You’ll never find yourself overfertilizing again.”

How It Pays

Of course, beyond the science, growers like McGaughey really just want to tell each other about the benefits of using RootShield. All growers seem to have their own reasons–from sustainability to water management to time and labor savings–why they choose to use the product.

At Van Wingerden Greenhouses in Blaine, Wash., environmental concerns were a key factor in the company’s decision to try RootShield, says head grower John Burns. Van Wingerden uses RootShield, which Burns buys pre-incorporated in soil, on all of its poinsettias.

“We’re now VeriFlora certified as a sustainable business, so the environmental aspects of the product certainly appealed to us,” Burns says. “We have a pretty extensive pest management plan and RootShield fits nicely in it. When you cut out applications of chemicals, you still need a way to manage pests effectively. RootShield helps us do that. We found virtually no pathogens after using the product.”

In the Southwest, water management issues are paramount. By strengthening root systems, RootShield helps plants take up water more easily. That can mean a reduction in watering needs.

“New Mexico is dry and sunny with low humidity, so we don’t have huge pathogen problems as it is,” says Steve Salsman, production manager and head grower at Sunland Nursery Company in Mesilla Park, N.M. “But using RootShield really gives us that extra measure of protection.”

Sunland pre-incorporates RootShield granules into a Ball mix and uses the product on everything it grows. At the same time, it’s a good water management tool because the roots use water more efficiently.

There are also time and labor savings that result with faster-growing crops and the reduction and elimination of crop loss.

“You usually don’t see root rot until it’s pretty bad,” says Bill Tuinier, a grower at Post Gardens in Rockwood, Mich. “And then the plant stops growing and you lose precious growing time. With RootShield, we’ve been able to cut crop-growing time down. That’s a pretty big deal.”

Tuinier uses the product on poinsettias, Easter lilies, gerbera daisies and other sensitive spring plants. “Since using the product, we don’t have any crop loss anymore,” he says. “And that helps us be profitable.”

In the end, all of these benefits do add up to cost savings and a healthier bottom line, the growers agree. And that’s where innovation really pays off.

“The product pays dividends,” McGaughey says. “The cost of the product is infinitesimal when you compare what you used to spend before using RootShield.”

Leave a Reply

More From Plant Culture...
Heating Roundup Feature Image

August 1, 2015

5 New Heating Options For The Greenhouse

Five heating systems manufacturers share their latest and greatest products. Tubing And Aluminum Heat Pipes (BioTherm) From Megatube and MicroClimate tubing to DuoFin and StarFin aluminum heat pipe, BioTherm is dedicated to providing heat solutions that can withstand the toughest greenhouse environments. The MegaTube and MicroClimate tubing options are easy to install and ideal for bench or floor heating. The tubing has a conductive heating surface that allows for maximum root-zone heating. The DuoFin and StarFin aluminum pipe options are great for perimeter heating and melting snow trapped in the greenhouse gutter. It can also be useful for bench heating. Both pipe options provide gentle, radiant heat for plants and don’t require welding. TrueLeaf.net Infinite Energy 2 Condensing Boiler (Delta T Solutions) With up to 98 percent efficiency, the IE2 condensing boiler boasts a stainless steel heat exchanger with larger waterways to ensure maximum heat transfer. The product’s design ensures flexibility while […]

Read More
Basil_Persian-AAS2015_620x329

July 31, 2015

All-America Selections Promotes Garden-Fresh Cooking

All-America Selections (AAS) has stepped forward with another first when promoting AAS Winners, this time in the form of cooking videos using vegetables/edibles that have performed extremely well in the AAS Trials. These days, a love of gardening is directly related to a passion for cooking. Tying the two together is a natural when marketing joys of cooking with fresh vegetables from the garden and farm market. After 82 years of conducting trials where only the best performers are declared AAS Winners, the organization now has more than 325 individual varieties that have been “Tested Nationally & Proven Locally.” It is some of these many varieties that culinary storyteller, entertainer and horticulture industry veteran Jonathan Bardzik will use in a series of five videos demonstrating cooking techniques with AAS Winning herbs and vegetables. “I am excited to partner with All-America Selections to show people across the country that AAS Winners perform […]

Read More
Burpee Home Gardens Brand Adds Flowers

July 31, 2015

4 Reasons Retailers Snub National Brands

Greenhouse Grower’s lead editor, Laura Drotleff, and I got into a debate about why garden retailers, especially independent garden centers, snub marketing efforts from breeders and growers. She was very much on the breeders’ and growers’ side, expressing frustration about how limited retailers’ vision can be on the topic. I’ve reported on the garden retail side of the industry since 1998, about the same length of time Laura has reported on growers. I’ve heard a lot of retailer views on this, so allow me to share the most common reasons why retailers decline free marketing: Costs. While the marketing materials are free, and sometimes advertising, participating in these projects usually requires minimum orders. From a grower’s perspective, the minimum orders are reasonable. If garden stores promote a plant line, they need to have enough supplies to satisfy demand. From a retail perspective, if inventory reports show a plant line can […]

Read More
Latest Stories
Mike McGroarty, owner of Mike’s Backyard Nursery

July 29, 2015

Backyard Success: Mike McGroarty Educates Aspiring Grow…

Mike’s Backyard Nursery sits on a long, narrow, 5-acre property located in Perry, Ohio. There, customers can find a variety of flowering shrubs available, all in 2-quart pots, and all for sale for $5.97 each. Owner Mike McGroarty, a lifelong resident of Perry, says the town has a lot of plant nurseries, including 100 wholesale growers within a 10-mile radius of his house. That doesn’t discourage McGroarty, because he knows that while there are a lot of nurseries in his area, no one else is doing what he is doing. McGroarty has learned about plants — and marketing them to his audience — through decades of experience. He has never hesitated to pass along his knowledge to other growers looking to start their own backyard operations, and has created an entire program to educate aspiring growers. McGroarty Likes To Practice What He Preaches McGroarty’s operation serves as the laboratory for […]

Read More
cannabis, marijuana plant

June 27, 2015

Concern Grows Over Unregulated Pesticide Use On Cannabi…

As most growers know well, the federal government regulates all insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and other commercial chemicals used on agricultural crops. Therein lies the problem with use of chemicals on cannabis crops – so far, the feds want nothing to do with legalized marijuana. According to “Concern Grows Over Unregulated Pesticide Use On Cannabis,” a June 17 article on the National Public Radio (NPR) network by Agribusiness Reporter Luke Runyon, the lack of regulated chemicals for cannabis has left growers to experiment on their own. “In the absence of any direction the subject of pesticide use on the crop has just devolved to whatever people think is working or they think is appropriate,” said Colorado State University Entomologist Whitney Cranshaw in the NPR report. “Sometimes they’ve used some things that are appropriate, sometimes unsafe.” Denver officials held tens of thousands of marijuana plants earlier this year due to safety concerns, but […]

Read More
Great-spangledFritillary

June 16, 2015

The Butterfly Effect: Insect’s Wings Key To Azalea Poll…

A researcher from North Carolina State University (NC State) has found that in the case of the flame azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum), all pollinators are not created equal. In fact, due to the flower’s unique reproductive structure, butterflies — and specifically, their wings — are the key to pollination. The flame azalea is commonly found in the Appalachian Mountains, ranging from as far north as New York to Georgia in the south. Like most azaleas, the flowers are large, and have an unusual structure: both the anther (male) and stigma (female) parts are very elongated and separated from one another. NC State biologist Mary Jane Epps was interested in how the azalea’s flower structure affected its pollination. “In order for a plant to reproduce, a pollinator — usually an insect — has to spread the pollen from the anther to the stigma,” Epps says. “In the case of the flame azalea, […]

Read More
Bee on a Sedum

March 17, 2015

4 Key Pollinator Research Projects To Be Funded By Hort…

The Horticultural Research Institute will grant $125,000 in financial support for four key projects as part of the Horticultural Industry Bee & Pollinator Stewardship Initiative. The Initiative has three primary goals. First, to convene a task force to develop a bee and pollinator stewardship program, including creation of best management practices for plant production. Second, to identify and fund research that will help answer key science questions and fill gaps needed to design and refine the stewardship program. Third, to seek to positively position the horticultural community and its customers by collaborating with other compatible groups interested in augmenting pollinator habitat and protection.

Read More

March 11, 2015

Pollinator Initiative Promotes Bee-Friendly Talking Poi…

AmericanHort and the Society of American Florists are working tirelessly with the ornamental industry's Pollinator Stewardship Initiative on a number of new projects.

Read More

February 11, 2015

Infusion Technology Boosts Seed Performance, Study Sugg…

Seven-year-old wheat seed germination can increase by as much as 83 percent, according to a Vital Force Technology Study that looks at the effects of energy infusion technology on plant vitality.

Read More

February 3, 2015

American Floral Endowment Accepting Research Pre-Propos…

If you are pursuing a floriculture research project, now is the time to apply for funding through the American Floral Endowment. Research pre-proposal applications for 2015-2016 funding are due to AFE by June 1, 2015.

Read More

January 27, 2015

Marijuana’s Trajectory And Ascent To Horticultural Cr…

Marijuana growing is poised for change as growers and researchers focus on improving production practices.

Read More

December 9, 2014

Greenhouse Production: Two Years Of Basics & Beyond…

Greenhouse Grower's Basics & Beyond articles cover some of the latest news and research going on in greenhouse production. Here are article links for the last two years.

Read More
GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile & App Design Awards

November 24, 2014

GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile &…

The social garden app GrowIt! takes the Gold Winner award at the design100 2014 Mobile & App Design Awards.

Read More

November 10, 2014

The Perennial Farm Joins HGTV HOME Plant Collection

The Perennial Farm joins the HGTV HOME Plant Collection growers' network for 2015.

Read More
AmericanHort

November 4, 2014

AmericanHort Publishes Revised American Standard For Nu…

AmericanHort announces the revised American Standard for Nursery Stock (ANSI Z60.1) is now available for industry use. The Standard reflects the consensus of the industry regarding how nursery stock — living plants other than annuals — should be specified and sold within the trade.

Read More

September 26, 2014

Master The Art Of Watering

Watering is elemental to healthy plants, but one of the hardest concepts for new employees to master in the greenhouse. Recommend these tips to start them off right.

Read More

September 16, 2014

Ball FloraPlant’s Las Limas Facility Provides Gro…

Ball FloraPlant’s Las Limas farm in Esteli, Nicaragua, is one year away from full production, but sales and quality from the two-year-old facility are right on track.

Read More
Erysimum 'Cheers' from Darwin Perennials

September 15, 2014

Darwin Perennials Takes Production Offshore In Bogota, …

With its recent purchase of a farm in Colombia, Darwin Perennials is ready to amp up supply of its perennial genetics, to provide growers with tried-and-true varieties and comprehensive production specifications.

Read More

July 23, 2014

Plan Now To Prevent Bract Edge Burn On Poinsettias

Reduce fertilizer and water, and allow your poinsettias to develop slowly during the final four weeks of production to avoid bract edge burn.

Read More

July 11, 2014

Growing Your Crops Above Their Base Temperature

Lowering temperature set points in the greenhouse may help you combat rising heating costs.

Read More

May 1, 2014

Growers Report Nutritional Problems On Geraniums

In recent weeks, several growers have contacted Michigan State University Specialists about leaf discoloration on geraniums, especially the purpling of lower leaves.

Read More