In Part 1 of this series I gave you a high level understanding of amino acids, their extraction and uses in agriculture. In this Part 2 of the series, we will cover the importance of amino acids to plants and the benefits of amino acids to land management practices and sustainable farming. You have already heard about how amino acids help increase the health of the soil and everything that grows in it, how the proteins found in amino acids help the soil absorb and store more nutrients, but I haven’t discussed how that relates to sustainable farming and importantly reduced dependancy on synthetic fertilisers for productivity.
Let’s first start by understanding how amino acids support plant growth;
1. Amino acids help photosynthesis
Amino acids provide many different benefits to plant health, beginning with the process of photosynthesis. Without proper photosynthesis, plants will not grow. This process relies on the production of chlorophyll, which needs to absorb energy from the sun. Amino acids help in the production of chlorophyll, which leads to quality photosynthesis.
2. Amino acids help increase nutrient absorption
Plant leaves consist of stomata, which are small pores that help plants absorb gas and nutrients. When there is no light and low humidity, the stomata will close to help to reduce photosynthesis and absorption of nutrients. When the sky however is clear and sunny, and the humidity is higher, the stomata will then open. This will help plants to get the proper nutrition from rain, sunlight, and soil.
With sufficient concentration of amino acids in the soil, L-glutamic acid is a type of amino acid that protects stomata cells with a microscope. This encourages the leaves to remain open, allowing the plants to absorb more nutrients.
Amino acids are also known as having the ability to chelate when proteins are combined with other sub-nutrients. Plants can use sub-nutrients more efficiently. These benefits result in increased nutrient intake.
3. Amino acids reduce stress-related problems
The plant is able to withstand stress, such as from high temperatures, low humidity, and other serious problems. Amino acids help to fight stress and help plants to recover quickly and to maintain denser growth.
4. Amino acids support plant hormones
Amino acids also support the growth of plant hormones, which is called phytohormone. The Phytohormones control the development of healthy plants by supporting tissues and cells. Almost all stages of plant growth are involved in hormonal control. The use of amino acids with soil can promote production phytohormones without having to use separate supplements.
5. Amino acids help improve microbial activity
Protein is important for all living cells, including microbial cells that support healthy soil. L-methionine, one of the amino acids, can help increase the health of microbial cells, promote better microbial activity. One of the main roles of microbes is to help circulate nutrients, including carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur. The activities of healthy microbes control these components. Without microbial activity, most fertilizer is not effective. Microbes help convert organic compounds into inorganic forms, such as changing proteins from amino acids to carbon dioxide and ammonium. In general, microbes decompose compounds so that plants can absorb nutrients. Adding amino acids to the soil will improve this process.
6. Amino acids are a source of nitrogen
Adding amino acids to the soil can help increase nitrogen content by limiting the need for fertiliser with a high nutrient concentration. Plants can pick up amino acids from the soil to receive organic nitrogen. Amino acids are found naturally in the soil can provide protein with nitrogen. However, to get nitrogen, Plants must first digest proteins, which must have microbial activity in the soil. Amino acids help improve microbial activity. Soil supplementation with this substance can help the entire nitrogen cycle.
7. Amino acids increase calcium absorption
Chelating substances such as amino acids will help increase the absorption of nutrients. After plants absorb minerals, the rest will be decomposed into dissolved organic nitrogen or used directly as an amino acid. Chelaing will have effects to help with plant health from increased calcium absorption, making plants to have more calcium and to help strengthen the vascular system, strong nutrients conveyor system. Plants will be able to absorb more water and nutrients. This calcium increase may help prevent pests and diseases. When plants are weak, there will be water in the cells which attracts the growth of mold and insects. With healthy plants, there will be more pectin in the cell wall. Thicker cell walls are less likely to be attacked. Increased calcium absorption also helps prevent pests. When these problems occur, plants release calcium and produce defenses that help repel insects.