High brix crops are the cornerstone of sustainable farming. Resistant to disease and unappealing to insects, healthy plants with high brix levels require fewer inputs and improve profitability. They’re also better for human consumption and health.
What is ‘brix’?
Brix is essentially a measurement of the sugar content in the sap of a plant, expressed as a percentage. Sugar is the main product of photosynthesis, so the more a plant photosynthesises (an indication of a healthy plant), the more sugar is contained in its tissues, resulting in a higher brix reading.
The brix measurement can be taken on different areas of the plant using a brix refractometer.
What level of brix is considered ‘high’?
Here’s a quick summary of what different brix levels mean for plant health:
- 0 – 2 brix: Very low brix; the plant is essentially unable to ‘look after itself’. Insects will move in quickly to consume these plants and disease will run rampant.
- 3 – 7 brix: Mid-level brix; the plant has a chance of survival. Most agricultural plants fall within this range. They require pesticides and fertilisers in order to thrive.
- 8 – 11 brix: Higher brix; natural resistance begins. Most sucking insects will not tolerate 8 brix or higher; chewing insects that eat the roots or leaves directly will start to lose interest once the plant reaches a brix level of 10 or 11.
- 12 – 20+ brix: High brix; virtually no insects will attack a plant with a brix level of 12+.
What are the benefits of high brix levels in plants?
#1 More resilient
Nature has been designed to use insects to get rid of poor-quality plants. Since the dawn of industrial farming, however, farmers have been neglecting soil health, growing low brix crops, and fighting off insects and diseases with synthetic pesticides and chemicals.
On the other hand, insects tend to avoid plants with high brix levels.
#2 Require less inorganic disease and pest prevention
Because plants with high brix levels are less prone to disease and attract fewer insects than unhealthy plants, they don’t need to be treated with as many pesticides and chemicals. Ideally, they shouldn’t need any chemical interference at all.
#3 Increase profits
Because high brix plants render insecticides and pesticides obsolete, the reduction of required inputs results in an increase in profitability.
#4 Beneficial to human health and nutrition
High brix crops have higher carbohydrate levels, and are thus more energy-dense and easier for humans to digest. They also have high mineral density, including higher calcium levels.
#5 Produce tastes better
Taste is built on the carbohydrate and mineral levels of the produce we eat. Thus, higher brix = more carbohydrates and minerals = better taste and smell.
So, how does one achieve high brix levels in crops?
The answer lies in the health of the soil. Simply put, high brix levels are the end result of soil health. A high brix level indicates the presence of an effective soil management programme that results in healthier, hardier plants that are more resistant to insects and disease.
How to feed the soil for high brix outcomes
Many farmers choose to use soil food for enhanced soil health and fertility that provides optimal crop performance. Formulated by Zylem, Sea Brixº™ is a product with the primary objective of maximising photosynthesis – the process that ultimately results in high brix levels of the plant. The Sea Brixº™ name is indicative of its source and its effect – products and ingredients originating from the sea (such as fish hydrolysate and kelp) contribute to factors that make soils healthy, which, in turn, results in higher brix levels in plants.
Visit our website to find out more about Sea Brixº™ and our soil health solutions: https://www.zylemsa.co.za/sea-brix-healthy-fertile-soil/.