06 December 2023
Helena Estiveira of crop science company Alltech discusses how biostimulants have the potential to revolutionise plant growth, bolster yield, and fortify sustainability.
BIOSTIMULANTS are natural powerhouses that are quickly gaining ground in agriculture, offering a more environmentally-friendly alternative to boost plant growth and vitality. From researchers to consultants to farmers, the industry is recognizing the value of biostimulants in optimising the stages of photosynthesis and supporting plant metabolism. This isn’t just another trend. It’s a breakthrough biotechnological solution with the potential to transform how we cultivate our crops.
By stimulating natural processes within the plant’s metabolism, they heighten the efficiency of nutrient uptake, making sure plants get the nourishment they need. This boost, especially during the critical stages of photosynthesis, fuels growth and development. The effect is so potent that it amplifies other aspects of crop growth as well.
The result? Bigger harvests, richer nutrient content, and plants that better weather the challenges thrown their way.
The influence of biostimulants extends beyond direct growth enhancement. By promoting the decomposition of organic matter, these substances contribute to soil health and fertility. This promotes healthier ecosystems, protects water quality and supports biodiversity.
This harmonious relationship with the soil ecosystem further exemplifies the sustainable impact of biostimulants, which supercharge nutrient cycling and ensure that plants get the right nutrients at the right time.
One of the hallmark benefits of plant biostimulants is their capacity to enhance nutrient uptake. Biostimulants facilitate the plant and soil metabolic processes to improve nutrient availability.
Through fostering a symbiotic relationship with the rhizosphere — the soil region surrounding plant roots — biostimulants unlock essential minerals such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
By improving soil health and nutrient cycling, biostimulants can help mitigate soil erosion, enhance water retention, and reduce nutrient runoff into water bodies.
Moreover, healthier root systems and enhanced nutrient uptake mechanisms enable plants to better withstand the rigors of water scarcity, fluctuating temperatures, suboptimal nutrient availability, and other stressors.
Humic and fulvic acids, which are integral components of biostimulants, further enhance nutrient availability and absorption, elevating the plant’s nutrient content and fortifying its growth potential.
Biostimulants play a crucial role in optimizing nutrient uptake by plants, enhancing their ability to efficiently assimilate essential elements from the soil, thereby promoting healthier growth and development.
Biostimulants are often applied to help plants cope with environmental stresses. They can enhance a plant’s ability to withstand such stresses by improving root development, increasing antioxidant activity, and stimulating defense mechanisms.
The interaction of growth factors, stress-relieving enzymes, and symbiotic microbes fine-tunes the plant’s responses, shifting energy toward effective nutrient uptake and utilization.
Biostimulants enhance plants' stress tolerance by strengthening their natural defense mechanisms and physiological responses, enabling them to withstand challenging environmental conditions more effectively and maintain consistent yields.
In an era burdened with environmental challenges and a growing population, the role of biostimulants in ensuring sustainability and food security cannot be overstated.
Globally, nutrient efficiency spans from 30% to 50%. This implies that out of 100 kg of fertilizer applied, only 30 to 50 kg will actually contribute to nourishing the crops. The excess is lost to the environment, causing both financial setbacks and ecological harm.
As excess amounts of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are washed away from fields for various reasons and the financial implications of this nutrient loss are substantial. Growers invest significant resources in purchasing and applying fertilisers, only to witness considerable portions of these investments literally flowing away.
As countries such as Japan, China and the United States, along with the European Union, increasingly focus on addressing nutrient runoff, the role of biostimulants is becoming particularly relevant.
The biostimulant market is anticipated to experience substantial growth in the near future, with a projected value of US$10 billion by 2030. As the world struggles to feed an ever-growing population while preserving our planet’s resources, biostimulants are establishing themselves as a tremendous ally for a future where productivity, sustainability and food security coexist harmoniously.