In recent years climate change has gone from being a probability to becoming a reality that determines, for better or worse, our daily lives.
As a consequence, climate change and climate breakdown have become a priority problem that is influencing agricultural production worldwide, for example by affecting rainfall patterns, temperature, and even seasonal patterns.
Traditionally farmers and growers considered variables such as the time of year, seeds, fertilisers, plant protection and soil management, among others. However, in recent years “new” challenges have emerged, particularly linked to climate change. These newer challenges mean that to achieve a crops’ full potential, traditional plant nutrition and plant protection practices are no longer sufficient.
These external, non-pathogenic and non-biological challenges are known collectively as non-living stresses or abiotic stress. Today management of these abiotic stresses is one of the principal topics of discussion, and research, in agriculture. It is widely accepted that if abiotic stress could be well managed there is the potential to go a long way towards increasing global food production by the 50% needed by 2050, and achieving this necessity in a more sustainable fashion. However, this will be no easy challenge…
One of the most promising areas of research in abiotic stress management is biostimulation of plants. When applied appropriately, biostimulants have been demonstrated to effectively reduce the impact of abiotic stress on crops, helping them to achieve their full yield and quality potential.
In recent years, the use of biostimulants has been recognised as a good agricultural practice, assisting agriculture to become more sustainable and even more environmentally friendly. In fact biostimulants have such potential in abiotic stress management in agriculture that this “new” industry has grown rapidly from an insignificant size ten years ago, to today where it is estimated to be worth around $2.3 billion (2020) and to reach more than $4 billion in 2023. The rapid and continued growth of this market is farmer driven as they have been quick to recognise the benefits these products bring to their crop… and their bottom line.
A plant “biostimulant” in agriculture, according to the definition in the European Union fertiliser regulations, is a product that stimulates plant nutrition and growth processes independently of the product’s nutritional content. Biostimulants have the sole aim of improving one or more of the following characteristics of the plant, or the plant rhizosphere (root zone):
While biostimulation has been demonstrated to effectively reduce the impact of abiotic stress on crops, an important point about them is that they have no specific effect on pathogens or pests. Thus, to control these biotic challenges, plant protection products will still be needed.
Biostimulants have the capability to trigger and improve the ability of crops to naturally resist abiotic stress effects. In essence, with or without biostimulants, the crop will alter its metabolism to respond to an abiotic stress. However, the use of biostimulants on crops allows for a quicker, more effective and /or more efficient response by the crop.
There are a variety of sources that may have biostimulant properties, and they differ in their origin and / or their modes of action within the plant. In general, biostimulants can be allocated to one of seven groups: humic / fulvic acids, protein hydrolysates (e.g. amino acids), seaweed extracts, chitosan, inorganic compounds, beneficial fungi and beneficial bacteria (du Jardin 2015). These diverse sources are still being fully explored and understood, and are yielding a steady stream of new innovations and products for agriculture.
Increasing knowledge about the mode of action of each biostimulant is now enabling growers to make the best decision about which biostimulant to choose, when to apply it and what dosage to use. By understanding the mode of action, growers can now know what beneficial effect is expected from that particular biostimulant application (Brown & Saa 2015). All of this new information is benefiting the grower’s decision making.
When dealing with abiotic stress, choosing the most appropriate product, the right application time, and the best method of application is not always an easy task. For optimal results, product knowhow, and its correct inclusion in agronomic strategies are key to ensuring that the maximum effect and return on investment are achieved. In a new sector such as biostimulants, this is a lot of new knowledge to assimilate.
Tradecorp have been focusing on presenting, and making available in other formats, these recent advances in agronomic knowledge to growers as easy to understand concepts, and information, to empower them to make best use of this rapidly evolving technology in their agronomic programs.
Humic acids provide a complete improvement of soil fertility via a positive effect on the physical characteristics (structure), chemical characteristics (greater availability and recycling of nutrients), and biological characteristics (increased microbial life) of soil by;
+ Other factors to consider in decision making regarding humic acids include;
– Balance between longer lasting humic acids, and quick acting fulvic acids
– Use of recognised and well-studied raw materials such as American Leonardite
– Products approved for Organic Agriculture by OMRI are available
+For more detailed information on humic acids to help in decision making see the following articles:
Tradecorp’s range of amino acids is based on free L-α amino acids, which are key to recover crops during or after an intense stress period. Factors to consider about amino acids include;
+ More information about amino acids:
Seaweed biostimulants come in many different shapes and forms. Tradecorp´s Phylgreen range is specifically designed to prevent abiotic stress in crop by applying the product before the onset of abiotic stress.
Natural solutions to promote root and plant growth derived from plant origin.
+ Looking for biostimulants that are suitable for Organic Agriculture? Check here.