Keep an eye on biostimulants - FutureFarming
Expert opinion

Keep an eye on biostimulants

Somewhere between fertilisers and pesticides are biostimulants. The way in which they work is vague, yet promising.

Late May, I attended a symposium on biostimulants organised by the Royal Dutch Association for Plant Health (Koninklijke Nederlandse Plantenziektekundige Vereniging, KNPV in Dutch) in Wageningen. It was very interesting indeed! I do not believe you can classify biostimulants as precision farming. Biostimulants do, however, help to perfect growth. Therefore, they are certainly a part of future farming.

Seaweed extracts are the largest and most striking group of biostimulants. Foto: ANP
Seaweed extracts are the largest and most striking group of biostimulants. Foto: ANP

Seaweed

Seaweed extracts are the largest and most striking group of biostimulants. Biostimulants are interesting because they are to be considered a new group, in between pesticides and fertilisers this however causes a lack of clarity in legislation. Please, do not recommend a potential side effect of a biostimulant on the repression of pathogens. You might just end up in a time consuming and very expensive area of having to certify it as a chemical pesticide.

Biostimulants are also interesting because of the complex way in which they work. There are thousands of them and many are recommended as agents for all types of crops and against almost all abiotic stress factors.

Quackery

What struck me the most was that I did not hear the word ‘quackery’ at the symposium once. I already had this word in my mind when I drove to the meeting, myself. However, the KNPV people were very serious about biostimulants, maybe they were a bit cynical about some of the often unsubstantiated claims made by suppliers, but no jokes at all.

It became very clear that biostimulants are a hot topic at the moment. Crop growers are very keen to learn how to increase their crops’ resistance, against the backdrop of less pesticides and fertilisers.

Researchers are also interested. They want to know what the fundamental way is in which these agents work. Growers are asked to perform little tests on their crops so that researches may learn what could work on their specific soil and crops.

The way in which biostimulants work is vague, yet promising. Much is yet to come!

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