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Breaking frontiers for understanding biostimulants!

By: , Posted on: August 23, 2021

There is a need to produce healthy, copious and inexpensive food through sustainable and resilient agriculture. Natural plant biostimulants can offer this solution. Biostimulants are a group of natural-origin substances that can reduce the dependency on harmful chemical fertilizers that are causing environmental degradation. When applied in minute quantities, biostimulants augment plant growth and development and improve the efficiency of plant nutrients. Given the prevalent attention that biostimulants have now gathered, the biostimulant industry as a whole has embraced substances (organic, inorganic) and microbes as biostimulants. The biostimulant industry is well-represented by two lobby groups formed in 2011, the European Biostimulant Industry Council (EBIC) in Europe and by Biostimulant Coalition (BC) in the United States. Both EBIC and BC address regulatory and legislative issues related to biostimulants.

According to EBIC, biostimulants are defined as “Plant biostimulants contain substance(s) and/or microorganisms whose function when applied to plants or the rhizosphere is to stimulate natural processes to enhance/benefit nutrient uptake, nutrient efficiency, tolerance to abiotic stress, and crop quality.”

Biostimulant Coalition agrees with the biostimulant definition by the American Association of Plant Food Control Officials (AAPFCO), which defines biostimulants as “any substance or compound other than primary, secondary, and micro plant nutrients that can be demonstrated by scientific research to be beneficial to one or more species of plants, when applied exogenously.”

The application of biostimulants from natural origin represents one of the most innovative and promising strategies to improve crop productivity under both optimal and stressful conditions. Biostimulants do not contain large amounts of nutrients but rather complex mixtures of bioactive molecules, so they are unique and cannot be considered as typical fertilizers or as plant protection agents.

The use of natural biostimulants can be the solution to shift towards sustainable agriculture.”

My interest in biostimulants kindled during my M.Sc. when I attended an organic farming lecture series delivered by Prof. Padrout M. Fried, Agroscope, Switzerland, in Dec 2009 at G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar, India. I was intrigued by the damage which was done by the chemical fertilizers and pesticides to our ecosystem. I used to feel that we need to do something about it and since then, I was eager to work on organic biostimulants. When I joined the Research Centre of Plant Growth and Development (RCPGD) in 2018, I could give wings to my dream of working on biostimulants under the mentorship of Prof. Johannes Van Staden, who not only trusted in me but encouraged me to pursue the best research in the field. Prof. Van Staden has been working on biostimulants since the early 1980s and his initial biostimulant research was focused on seaweeds, followed by plant-derived smoke and vermicompost leachate in the early 1990s. We used to discuss current and future research directions of biostimulant research (particularly macroalgae, microalgae, plant-derived smoke, vermicompost leachate and microbial biostimulants) over our coffee break. I was always excited to discuss the research ideas with Prof. Van Staden. Our discussions were always insightful and chiefly focused on the potential of biostimulants and how they act on seed and plant physiology. Our research group at RCPGD will continue research on biostimulants. We are joining hands with industry and farmers to test a range of biostimulants (organic, inorganic and microbial) on different crops. Our main focus is to elucidate their mechanism of action in plant growth and development, which will help us understand the role of biostimulants in sustainable agriculture and plant nutrition and assist biostimulant lobby groups EBIC and BC in addressing the regulatory and legislative issue.

The idea of doing an edited book came to mind as I wanted to collaborate with the researchers working on biostimulants. “Biostimulants for Crops from Seed Germination to Plant Development” is more than a collection of chapters, as significant efforts have been taken by authors and editors to address the recent developments in the field of plant biostimulants and to transform scientific research into practical application. This book is a compilation of well-integrated chapters written by various experts in biostimulants around the globe. The book provides a deeper understanding of the role of biostimulants in sustainable agriculture and horticultural and sheds light on categories of biostimulants, their shelf life, positive effects of biostimulants on seed germination, plant growth and development, pigments, reduction of stress, disease prevention, the use of biostimulants in boosting plant production, yield and quality and regulations and biostimulant markets. As more and more insights are gained on their bioactivities, it is important to channel some research efforts towards understanding the precise modes of action of these formulations.

The contents of the book are of relevance to a worldwide readership, including scientists, researchers and policymakers to understand the various biostimulant products and their associated benefits. We believe that the chapters presented in the book will build cooperation that will kindle the thinking of readers in innovative ways and provide diverse perspectives about the current and future directions of biostimulant research.  

 “We’re very excited and look forward to the progressive imprint this book will have on its readers and their work on biostimulants.”


Ready to read this book?

Biostimulants for Crops from Seed Germination to Plant Development is available now on ScienceDirect. Or buy your own copy on the bookstore and save 30% plus get free shipping when you use the promo code STC30.

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Plant & Animal Sciences

The science of living things holds a special fascination for human beings, as we strive to understand our place in the seemingly endless array of life on our planet. Research into agricultural and plant science, ecology, animal science and behavior, aquatic and marine science, organismal biology, entomology, and evolution continues to shape both our technology and our fundamental knowledge of ourselves. Elsevier’s foundational and leading-edge content in these areas — including award-winning encyclopedias of fish physiology, animal behavior, and insects — continues to enhance scientific comprehension of the living systems we depend on.