Apr 17, 2018
This week, I had the pleasure of
interviewing Dr. Tom Dykstra, the founder and
laboratory director at Dykstra Labs, who also has advanced degrees
in entomology and has worked with Dr. Phil Callahan.
In this episode, we talk about
plant and insect communications, and how plants can only see and
feed on plants who are unhealthy (insects are only
attracted to unhealthy plants). We also discuss Dr. Dykstra’s current day work
in bioelectromagnetics, entomology, and agriculture. This episode
is a truly amazing glimpse into these very fascinating areas and
how they relate to plant physiology.
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Episode 4 - Dr. Dykstra
3:00 - What memorable moments
lead Tom to where he is today?
- Getting fired at the University of Florida
leading to the path he’s on now
with flea larvae leading into Tom’s PhD project
- Insect bioelectromagnetics
5:40 - What is the potential
impact of Tom’s work on agriculture? What might farmers be able to
- Optimizing photosynthesis to optimize Brix
level - leading to healthier plants
8:30 - Photosynthesis thoughts.
How much is it possible to increase photosynthesis beyond what is
normal? What tools can optimize it?
can increase it substantially
plants between 4-8 brix. 12 serious insect damage stops. 14 is a
genuinely healthy plant
- Plants are not working up to anywhere near
a matter of getting the photosynthetic rate up
to not be putting up blockages - ex. pesticides
is by far the easiest thing to do to measure plant
to be weaning off pesticides immediately
17:30 - What can we do to
increase energy flow in the soil profile?
much can you afford to lose? Start here
weeds to grow here - put out sugar as often as you can
is the cheapest and simplest way to clean out soil as fast as one
- Switching over immediately can be a little
painful, but anyone can transition slowly
crops can also help, but not quite as fast
- Erosion has recently become a
25:00 - Cover crops or applying
crops take time and can help soil more over time - directly
applying sugar is a massive dose
- Variety of cover crops is better than just
27:30 - Why has erosion become
such a challenge?
- Because microbes are gone - leading to fluffy
soil that is easily washed away
28:40 - What has been something
Tom has puzzled over for a long time?
insects smell - Tom’s own research
years where Tom was unable to put the pieces together
Nov 2016, they were able to decipher details in how insects
31:20 - Why some insects
are attracted to certain regions while others are not?
- Insects smell with antenna and
- Certain insects are “tuned” into certain
plants will advertise themselves as unhealthy - insects will not
attack healthy plants
- Insects are only looking for digestible plants
35:20 - What are some of the
compounds that serve as insect attractants we could manage and
- Ethanol is a universal odorant advertising
plants as unhealthy - a lot of plants will release some sort of
insect has its own brix cutoff where it will not attack a
- Massive brix level drop before a storm -
temporary measure in plants
42:30 - Are nitrate nitrogen and
ammonium nitrogen insect attractants?
- Indirectly, yes!
nitrogen is not a direct attractant, but the imbalance in the plant
causes the plant to advertise itself because it’s
48:10 - What are the possible
detection distances for these insect signaling
can be detected by great distances! Tremendous. No matter the
50:20 - Why do some people seem
to attract mosquitoes, and some do not?
plants, this is the difference between healthy and unhealthy
people. Mosquitoes seek people who advertise themselves as having
- Mosquitoes have a choice, and are going to
choose the most digestible blood available
54:10 - What are the differences
between healthy and unhealthy mosquitoes?
all insects are going to have the same diseases. They have states
of health and unhealth
57:00 - What has been something
that has really surprised Tom?
different insects are smelling the same molecule - Tom’s focus in
- Insects have multiple receptors for
has learned throughout his life how little we know so far on these
1:01:20 - What does Tom believe
to be true about agriculture that many others do not believe to be
- Insects are only attracted to unhealthy
- Because of this, pesticides are
1:06:30 - What is a book or
resource Tom would recommend?
out there and talking to farmers directly
likes giving direct advice
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