Sustainable agricultural practices: Horticultural grafting

Andrea Duarte
December 21, 2023

A collaboration with CristalPlant Group

Have you heard of horticultural grafting? If the first thing that comes to mind when you hear graft is a modification, you are right! Horticultural grafting is a highly innovative sustainable agricultural practice in the field and consists in genetically modifying a plant to improve its characteristics.

What is horticultural grafting? 

Grafting is the act of joining two plants with different characteristics. As CristalPlant Group explains, "grafting is the union of two plants, where one plant works with the root system of a variety and the other part the foliar system". In other words, the plant that works with the root system mainly determines the crop's resistance to pests and adverse conditions. On the other hand, the other plant that provides the foliar part determines the physical characteristics of the plant; color, size, among others.

Knowing this, you can imagine all the modifications that can be done so that a plant reaches "its best version". According to CristalPlant, "the main characteristic of horticultural grafting is resistance to pests and soil diseases". They also emphasize that it is a sustainable practice, so it can be used for organic crops and to increase crop production in general. 

The most important thing when it comes to making grafts is to follow the care instructions to the letter, since the substrate can vary depending on the plant and the soil. "Substrates are the plant's different means of propagation and influence the rate at which root systems develop. It is therefore important to have a different way of growing it and performing fertigation."

Currently, the challenges for horticulture are increasingly greater, "the amount of pests and diseases we have is very high," CristalPlant reminds us, and faces other challenges such as "maximizing yield in organic or zero waste production to seek maximum profitability for farmers." By making plants more resistant, diseases and pests also evolve, making them more difficult to eradicate. That is why selecting the right seed at the time of sowing the graft is crucial.

But how do I know which is the right seed?

It is not an easy task! This is achieved "by knowing the season, area, diseases and difficulties that exist at each farm and knowing what you are looking for from the production of the farm". This means that the clearer your goals are, the easier and it will be to select the right seed.

horticultural grafting
Photography by Cristalplan Group

Can horticultural grafting be used in organic crops?

The use of chemical compounds has become a standard practice in agriculture. Although these chemicals can be very useful at the growing stage, the long-term impact they have on the soil can be very high. Organic farming "seeks to produce crops with maximum phytosanitary control, respecting the regulations for the use of 100% organic, phytosanitary and nutritional products", and its main aim is to minimize the impact on the soil. Horticultural grafting is an effective alternative in crop management that improves crop-yield prediction as well as promotes sustainable agricultural practices. 

If you like staying ahead of the curve and controlling your production, let us tell you in a short call how you can optimize your processes to achieve more results in less time. 

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