What are biostimulants and how do they work?
The use of biostimulants has experienced strong growth in recent years. Within agriculture and horticulture you hear the term "biostimulants" more and more. For some, the application is already standard practice, but for others it is still unknown. In recent years, many new products came onto the market that contribute to a healthy and vital crop. Biostimulants based on "amino acids" are a good example of this. The great diversity of biostimulants makes it difficult to distinguish the differences between the products and their effect. It also becomes more difficult to distinguish quality biostimulants from lower quality biostimulants. Time for some explanation on the basis of amino acids as a biostimulant.
What are biostimulants?
Biostimulants can be used for different purposes. For example, there are biostimulants which serve as soil improvers and biostimulants which improve the absorption of nutrients from the soil, like humic acids. Biostimulants based on amino acids or seaweed extracts positively influence the growth and resistance of plants, resulting in a lower pest and disease pressure in the crop and a higher yield. Biostimulants based on amino acids make crops more tolerant to abiotic stress, such as drought or heat stress. They do this by providing important building blocks that are easily absorbed by the plant, which improves the quality of the crop. Biostimulants with amino acids have no direct effect on biotic stress (diseases and pests), but make the plant more resistant to stress situations. They work preventively by strengthening the crop, but also during crucial periods in the plant's life cycle.
Biostimulants can have three different effects:
- They can reduce abiotic stress
- They can improve the absorption of nutrients by the plant
- They can contribute to improving the overall quality of the plant
Ultimately, biostimulants contribute to a more resilient cultivation, a stronger root environment and a better harvest.
The effect of amino acids as a biostimulant
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Proteins play a key role in almost all biological processes, both in humans and plants. Certain proteins accelerate crucial steps in the metabolism. About 20 amino acids are essential for plants. Because proteins trigger numerous processes in a plant cell, many of the sugars and nitrogen produced by the plant are used for the production of proteins. This production costs the plant a lot of energy. When a crop experiences a stressful period, such as coolness or drought, the crop will respond to this by means of a stress reaction. A stress response requires a lot of new proteins, and therefore also a large amount of amino acids and energy. When a crop is offered amino acids before or during the influence of stress by foliar spraying, the crop can use these amino acids almost immediately for the production of proteins. This means the crop does not have to spend as much energy on the stress response, which can prevent growth delay and loss of yield. Certain amino acids also ensure that nutrients can be better absorbed.
During periods of drought, the growth of a potato plants decreases. This blocks the uptake of important amino acids from the organic matter in the soil. The potato plant is now obliged to produce amino acids itself during the already defective photosynthesis. This takes a lot of energy. The result is that the potato plant grows worse and worse and even extra fertilization becomes useless. The leaves of the plant hang down and become pale in color. During this situation of stress, the potato plant is provided a high quality biostimulant based on amino acids. This offers the plant the necessary protection. It retains the necessary energy and becomes strong. This eventually results in a successful harvest with good looking potatos.
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