Biostimulants offer sustainable alternative
Used correctly, proven biostimulant products are making a useful addition to the grower’s toolbox helping to optimise plant health, writes ICL Technical Area Sales Manager - Sam Rivers.
With an ever-reducing range of conventional crop protection products, growers are increasingly switching to more biologically friendly and sustainable alternatives which can offer similar results without the environmental and legislative pressures. While biological controls – such as beneficial nematodes to control vine weevil, and bio-fungicides such as Prestop – have become increasingly mainstream in professional horticulture, another key element is utilising proven biostimulant products to help optimise plant health.
Stimulating natural processes
Biostimulants are substances and/or micro-organisms that when applied to plants or the root zone (rhizosphere) stimulate natural processes which can benefit nutrient uptake, nutrient efficiency, tolerance to environmental and biological stresses, ultimately benefiting overall plant quality, independent of their nutrient content.
Host of benefits
Some of the documented benefits when using biostimulants are:
- Better flower production
- Stronger rooting
- Higher germination success
- Healthier foliage
- Higher quality fruit
- Increased shelf life
There are many different types of biostimulants on the market, some you may have heard of already are beneficial bacteria such as bacillus subtilis, seaweed extracts and yeast-based products such as brewer’s yeast (saccharomyces cerevisiae) – to name but a few. It is important to stress that while they are not a replacement for precise targeted nutrition or robust IPM practices, they can be used to help reduce dependency on conventional chemical controls.
Growing product range
ICL’s range of biostimulant products are carefully formulated from metabolites derived from industrial processes such as fermentation – the key components being amino acids, peptides and vitamins. These metabolites are then used to formulate products to suit grower needs.
For example, our ‘Vitalnova Guardian’ biostimulant contains polyketides derived from fermented yeast cells along with foliar applied nutrients essential for plant biofortification. Helping to strengthen foliar tissue Vitalnova Guardian helps increase plant resistance during periods of environmental and living stress such as drought or disease pressure.
Biostimulants have been shown to help support natural processes in the plant particularly when under stress. When implemented with other plant protection products, biostimulant products can be used to create a robust plan to aid plant health and therefore reduce reliance on chemical control.