A large amount of venture capital is being invested in agricultural biologicals, with biostimulants in particular gaining much traction. Such products might be used by growers to help improve nutrient-use efficiency, assist plants in tolerating heat or drought stress, or help improve crop quality traits like nutritional content, appearance, or shelf-life. But despite the proliferation of new products and technologies, there is currently no agreed upon regulatory definition for biostimulants in the United States, which can make it tricky for growers to sort them out.
“There are probably 30 or 40 different classifications or products you could rattle off," Lanciault says. "But it is probably easiest to aggregate those into four big segments.”
Broadly speaking, those segments are:
- Acids (including organic acids like humic and fulvic acids, as well as amino acids)
- Extracts (including organic matter extracts like seaweed extracts, plant extracts or botanical oils)
- Microbials (including soil fungi and bacteria that help to improve nutrient cycling/soil availability, or that aid a plant’s ability to uptake and use nutrients)
- Other (materials such as proteins, chemical salts, vitamins, elements, and small molecules or metabolites derived from organic sources)
“It is important to learn whether or not the product has been validated by an appropriate source like Extension, crop consultants, or other qualified agronomists. Make sure this validation was applied research, and not just what may work in a lab,” Lanciault adds. “It is very important that growers understand how these products augment what they already are doing from not only an agronomic standpoint, but also from an economic standpoint.”
Read the full article, "Biostimulants Quickly Gaining Ground with Growers."
You can also learn more about biologicals and biostimulants for agriculture by downloading the "Growing for the Future" booklet.