| Note: 1 liter of neem oil is used for preparing about 17-18 backpacks of fumigation (of 15 liters each).
NEEM IN AGRICULTURE AND ECOLOGICAL GARDENING
Farmers and gardeners use neem oil as an ecological insecticide and fungicide in order to keep away pests such as aphids, spider mites and white fly. Neem oil effectively protects crops from fungi, such as rust, powdery mildew and downy mildew infections. This protection is not only as a preventative, but also as a curative treatment. This way, when a plant is affected by any of these pests, the ideal method would be the use of neem oil as a treatment of contact, based on the fumigation of leaves, branches and trunk; as well as irrigation, that will make the effect of systemic treatment, being absorbed from roots to all parts of the plant.
In the case of insect pests (e.g. aphids) you should not expect to find bodies, since it does not kill by contact, but it eliminates the population, preventing from feeding and reproduce. Therefore it will not affect to non phytophagous organisms, so it has no effect on pollinators like bees or natural predators of pests which may have been introduced as biological control.
Other advantages deriving from the use of neem oil in organic farming is the foliar fertilizer effect that the fumigation with this product has. Neem fumigated, or dissolved directly in the field, provides nitrogen and nutrients to the plants and trees, and often shows a systemic effect whereby its effects spread from the root system to the entire tree.
We prove the effectiveness of this ecological treatment in a field of our property during the spring and summer of 2010, and the results were very satisfactory. The location of the field is in the province of Pontevedra - Spain, where is the production of the famous wine AlbariÃ±o. This is a very damp area, which is frequently attacked by diseases of fungi (especially downy mildew and botrytis). Therefore the winemakers are in need of sulfate vineyards every fifteen days, or less if the summer is humid. All this use of chemical treatments is not only harmful to plants, which increasingly become weaker and dependent on chemical treatments, that shortens their life. But also, in the medium and long term, it is very harmful for people, who gradually go polluting their land and groundwater, as well as filling the air with pollutants, which are inevitably breathed by people and animals. In addition, there is the resistance that pathogens develop against fungicides, which also causes that they are increasingly less effective, and have to be replaced by new ones every time. It should be noted that neem oil does not cause resistance by pests.
In our experience, we replaced all the fungicides and sulfates, both in the vineyard and in a garden planted of fruit trees. And we limited the application to spraying neem oil every 20 days, instead of the 10 or 15 employed by vine-growers in the area with chemical treatments. 2010 spring was very wet, so there were continuous attacks of pests. Even, some growers lost a part of their production. We also suffered some attacks in the vineyard, but not, in fruit trees. However, no vine stock was especially damaged, as when we discovered that it was infected, as well as foliar treatment, we added irrigation with the same mixture of neem oil, so, although some branches that finished drying were lost, all the vine stocks, without exception, eventually got recovered. In addition, the general appearance of the plants was much more healthy and lustrous than in previous years, when we always had the leaves of the vine stocks covered with typical bluish sulphate.
Both our own experiences, as the led out by universities in United States and India over the past two decades, lead us to recommend, without a doubt, the use of neem oil for all types of agricultural treatments (vineyards, orchards, gardens...) and gardening. Fortunately, every time there are more suppliers that are starting to provide in the West products derived from the "Tree of the Millennium". Name given to the neem tree by United Nations, which will make prices keep lowering.
NEEM OIL AND SODIUM/POTASSIUM BICARBONATE
Research carried out for three years by Dr. R. Kenneth Horst, researcher of the Cornell University of New York, at the end of the Decade of the eighties, showed the extraordinary effectiveness of bicarbonate in the fight against mildew, oidium, BOTRYTIS, alternaria, as well as against the disease called "black spot", which usually affects the rose-bushes.
One of the reasons of this efficiency is that the baking soda reduces acidity of the surface of the leaves, preventing that the fungus reproduces, since these fungi need an acidic environment to live.
Several studies and experiments in the United States and Europe during the next two decades, confirmed and extended the results obtained by Dr. Horst, indicating that, in the specific fight against mildew, potassium bicarbonate was somewhat more effective than the sodium. But that, if the baking soda was added to a mixture of surfactant (liquid soap or wetting agent) more horticultural oil (such as neem oil), this mixture not only protected, but eliminated the disease within two or three applications.
We have recently begun to apply this combination of wetting + neem oil + bicarbonate, in one of our fields, where mildew is an endemic disease that attacks every year, and we have also reached the conclusion that this mixture provides better results than just the application of wetting + neem oil, especially if the plants have already been attacked by the fungus. Therefore we recommend its use for all those who suffer from this type of fungal diseases in their plants. In the following section, applications, we explain the proportions to mix.
There are two kinds of baking soda which can be used, and both are very effective.
• Sodium bicarbonate. It is the one always used as a stomach antacid. You can buy it at cheap prices at any supermarket or drugstore, apart from pharmacies. It has the disadvantage that in the long term it can leave undesirable residues into the soil, in the form of salts, so you should not use in irrigation.
• Potassium bicarbonate. It is more difficult to find, and its price is somewhat higher, but it is more beneficial for the plant and its environment, since it does not only have fungicide action, but also of foliar fertilizer of potassium; leaves no residue because the plant absorbs it as a nutrient, which also strengthens it to resist the attacks of the fungi. Well known is that the potassium phosphite is used as a fungicide, even without combining it with other products.
Sodium bicarbonate can be used to improve the results of neem oil, but if you want to try with the potassium, you may purchase through our online store.
SOLUBILITY OF NEEM OIL IN HARD WATERS
Some of our customers have indicated that they find it difficult to dilute the neem oil in the water, even using a good emulsifier. The problem is not due to neem oil, nor the use of the wetting or potassium soap, but the hardness of the water used to make the mixture. The dissolution of the oil must be done perfectly using cold water, but if the water is very hard (calcified) lumps are formed and it is even possible that the mixture does not carry out. This is not usual, but our customers have told us some case.
The ideal thing for these extreme situations would be the use of rain water, which is also the best for watering plants. Hard waters are more harmful to plants, for its high content in salts of calcium and magnesium, which end up accumulating on the ground.
To facilitate the solubility of neem oil, we sell a special potassium soap for these uses. Anyway, with extremely hard water, if these cannot be substituted by rain water or purified water (soft), the best solution is to increase the amount of liquid soap (at least 5 ml of liquid soap per liter of water). Or also, if it is only for a small garden or flower pots, you could buy bottles of distilled water sold in hypermarkets at low prices.
- Add 3 to 5 ml of emulsifier (*) per liter of water, mix well and then add 3 to 5 ml of pure neem oil per liter of water, mix again and is now ready to be sprayed. It is recommended to use within 24 hours so that it does not lose its properties.
(*) Any liquid soap bought at the supermarket can serve as emulsifier, although it is preferable to use an organic liquid soap. In our online store, you can purchase liquid potassium soap, crafted, 100% eco-friendly. It will not only facilitate the solubility of neem oil, but also favour the elimination of harmful insects.
- To increase the effectiveness in the treatment of fungal diseases (downy mildew, powdery mildew, botrytis, alternaria, black spot...), add, after making the previous mixture, between 2 and 3 g of sodium or potassium, bicarbonate per liter of water, and mix again. Although they are not the same units, it would serve the same measuring cup. For example, if you add 50 ml of neem oil in ten liters of water, in the same glass you would measure about 30 gr of potassium bicarbonate.
- As prevention, make a spray every 15 to 20 days, depending on the humidity of the area.
- To control pests already present. Apply the spray every 4 or 5 days, until the complete elimination of the plague, and then return to the normal periodicity. In the case of badly affected plants, combine spraying (treatment of contact), with the irrigation of the same product (systemic therapy). In case of using sodium bicarbonate, irrigation is not recommended because salts could be accumulated in the ground, in the long term.
You should fumigate preferably in the first hour of the day or in the evening, near the sunset, since azadirachtin loses properties when it is applied in full sun, even if this was intense, it could burn the surface of the leaves, by the "magnifying glass" effect of water droplets.
MEDICINAL USES AGRICULTURAL APPLICATIONS