How Biostimulants Improve Plant Stress Tolerance
WHAT ARE BIOSTIMULANTS?
THE BENEFITS OF USING BIOSTIMULANTS FOR PLANT STRESS TOLERANCE
Increased yield and quality: Stress-resistant plants are more productive. Rather than directing precious energy towards fending off pests or withstanding a prolonged heatwave, stress-tolerant plants are naturally higher-yielding plants. Some biostimulants, like silicic acid, can also increase quality traits such as flavor and aroma.
Improved climate resilience: Plant stressors like heat, drought, and infestation are increasing in frequency and intensity as global temperatures rise. Biostimulants equip plants with the ability to thrive in more hostile growing conditions.
Reduced input costs: By optimizing nutrient availability and plant resistance responses, biostimulants can help plants thrive while reducing reliance on expensive—and environmentally damaging—synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
Sustainable growing practices: Biostimulants are compatible with organic and conventional farming practices, and many are produced sustainably with a relatively low impact. Microbial inoculants are, theoretically, in infinite supply. Others, like protein hydrolysates, are agricultural by-products that previously went to waste. And unlike chemical pesticides, using biostimulants to improve plant stress tolerance helps build soil diversity rather than destroy it.
HOW BIOSTIMULANTS IMPROVE PLANT STRESS TOLERANCE
There is still so much we don’t understand about the mechanisms through which biostimulants affect plant stress tolerance. Although the exact modes of action are unclear, biostimulants have repeatedly demonstrated an ability to activate certain plant responses to improve stress tolerance from both abiotic and biotic factors.
Most plants are quite sensitive to saline stress: any overabundance of water-soluble salts in soil and irrigation water reduces plant growth and overall vitality. High salt concentrations reduce water absorption through plant roots. By improving water use efficiency to offset the effects of drought, biostimulants can similarly increase plant tolerance to saline stress. Protein hydrolysates and microbial biostimulants have been shown to improve the yields of crops grown in high-salinity environments.
Biostimulants can enhance the absorption and translocation of nutrients from the rhizosphere to plants, as well as improve the efficiency of nutrient use within the plant. Optimizing nutrient availability and efficiency preserves energy, and plants to initiate stress responses more effectively.
Certain biostimulants initiate a plant defense response to pests and pathogens in a process known as induced resistance. For example, exposure to beneficial microbes found in high-quality microbial inoculants can mimic the molecular pathways that react to infestation or infection. Intentionally triggering a plant’s resistance response mechanisms arm it with the ability to respond to future threats.
THE BEST BIOSTIMULANTS FOR IMPROVING PLANT STRESS TOLERANCE
If you’re looking to arm your crops with some added resilience, these are the best-understood and most effective biostimulants for enhancing plant stress tolerance.
Humic substances, particularly humic acid and fulvic acid, are potent biostimulants. They are created naturally through the decomposition of organic matter. Humic acid and fulvic acid can be amended to growing mediums to stimulate the growth and development of plant roots. They can add plant stress tolerance by improving the absorption of nutrients and water.
Protein hydrolysates consist of various substances, including amino acids, peptides, and polypeptides, which are obtained by breaking down proteins from complex biological sources. Animal sources of protein hydrolysate include bone meal, feather meal, fish meal, and other agricultural by-products. Other sources include legumes, soybeans, corn, and wheat.
Protein hydrolysates can enhance crop growth and their ability to withstand environmental stressors. Lumina™ is Impello’s proprietary, certified-organic protein hydrolysate biostimulant. Sourced from molasses and shrimp protein hydrolysate, Lumina™ contains bioavailable nitrogen, polypeptides, and amino acids, which all serve to improve crop tolerance to abiotic stress and address nutrient deficiencies. Protein hydrolysate solutions like Lumina™ can also have a synergistic effect with beneficial microbes.
Although almost all soils are rich in silicon, very little is available to plants. And, without sufficient bioavailable silicon, plants become structurally weaker and more susceptible to biotic and abiotic stresses.
Monosilicic acid—the only plant-available form of silicon—can be used as a biostimulant to promote resilience to heat, cold, and drought. It also acts as a pesticide, deterring the growth of detrimental insect populations and pathogenic bacteria.
Stabilized monosilicic acid products, like Impello’s Dune™, are easily applied as a foliar spray, through hydroponic fertigation systems, or as a soil amendment.
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