“A plant biostimulant is any substance or microorganism, in the form in which it is supplied to the user, applied to plants, seeds or the root environment with the intention to stimulate natural processes of plants benefiting nutrient use efficiency and/or tolerance to abiotic stress, regardless of its nutrient content, or any combination of such substances and/or microorganisms intended for this use.”
The benefits of biostiumlants in crop production are various:
- Yield enhancement
- Quality enhancement
- Greater vigor
- Stress resistance
- Germination and root development
- Nutrient assimilation and translocation
- Water use efficiency
- Metabolic process optimization
There are many biostimulating raw materials available on the market, we at micromix decided to focus on seaweed extracts (Ascophyllum Nodosum), Humic and fulvic substances and intermediates for growth (amino acids and natural plant sugars).
- Algae extracts
An almost endless number of unique marine-based compounds not found in land based plants: Carbohydrates, polysaccharides rich in betaines, Proteins, Amino Acids, Fatty Acids, Mineral-Trace Elements, Vitamins, Antioxidants.
Typical biostimulant effects of algae extracts:
- Improves abiotic stress resistance, plant strengthening effect
- Increases early rooting, photosynthetic area and shoot growth
- Enhances plant carbohydrate production, sugar content
- Better recovery from diseases and pests
- Increases quality, flavour, storability and shelf-life of plants and flowers
At Micromix we use 'Ascophyllum nodosum’ from the Atlantic coast:
- It grows in the inter-tidal zone between high tide and low-tide on the shore. Because it grows in a very stressful environment, it develops unique anti-stress compounds for plants.
- It is harvested between April and October, The level of growth hormones and biologically active compounds are higher in the algae when the sun is overhead and light levels are highest.
- It is condensed with a method that ensures that the natural biostimulant anti-stress & growth-enhancing compounds of the extract remain intact and are not ‘denatured’ by heat.
2. Intermediates for growth
Every plant like any organism needs certain components for growth, mainly soil, sun, rain and air. One structural component of any living cells is Proteins, and amino acids are the building blocks. Proteins are formed by sequence of Amino Acids. Free amino acids are found as individual monomers. They are not linked to any other in peptides . By having a lower molecular weight, the plant can absorb them faster.
Plants synthesise Amino Acids from the Primary elements, Carbon and Oxygen obtained from air, Hydrogen from water in the soil, forming Carbo- Hydrate by means of photosynthesis and combining it with the Nitrogen which the plants obtain from the soil, leading to synthesis of amino acids.
Amino acids appear in L or D isomers. Plants can only metabolise L-Amino Acids. When comparing Amino acid content of products, it is important to check the content of L-Amino Acids and also "Free Amino Acids" as these are the ones that are readily available to the crop.
NATURAL PLANT SUGARS
Another structural component of crop living cells is Carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are made of single or linked sugars (monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides) that are also made of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen during photosynthesis.
The main roles of carbohydrates are:
- To build cell walls: Starches and fibre are made up of many simple sugars joined together chemically
- To act as storage molecules for energy: Many plants store the concentrated energy that sugars represent by turning them into carbohydrates for long term storage, and convert them back into sugars when energy is required for rapid growth.
By supplying amino acids and plant sugars , we are saving the energy that the plant needs to synthesise them itself. This energy then becomes available for growth and to fight the stress and use it in the many biochemical processes:
- Increase the overall energy levels of the crops: Building blocks for the crop to maximise energy use
- Enhance general growth and development
- Act as natural Elicitors in place of growth hormones
- Increase plant anti-stress effects (under frost, hot, drought)
- Increase chlorophyll concentration in the plant leading to higher degree of photosynthesis
- Plant-sourced L amino acids from the fermentation of crop residues selected for their biological activity and elicitor effects as signalling compounds, they have the capacity to be combined into polypeptides and hence proteins and are all naturally plant sourced.
- Plant sugars naturally extracted from Sugarcane crops known to have high levels of natural sugars and to also enhance the efficacy of other biostimulant compounds in a formulation.
3. Humic and Fulvic Acids
Humus is the stable organic fraction of the soil that absorbs and holds nutrients in a plant-available form and facilitates absorption at the roots.
Humus in the soil consists of many different humic substances :
Fulvic Acids: the fraction of humus that is soluble in water under all pH conditions. Their colour is commonly light yellow to yellow-brown.
Humic Acids: the fraction of humus that is slightly soluble in water, less soluble under conditions more acidic than pH 6. Common colours are dark brown to black. Agriculture extracts Humic acids with Caustic Potash to create more soluble Potassium Humates (Often described by sellers as Humic Acid)
Humins: the fraction of humus that is not soluble in water at any pH and that cannot be extracted with a strong base, such as sodium hydroxide (NaOH). Commonly black in colour.
Biostimulant effect of Humic and Fulvic acids:
- Humates are rich in both organic and mineral substances essential to plant growth.
- Long chain Humic acids have the ability to chemically bond with nutrients in the soil for increased absorption and mobilisation by the plant resulting in bigger, healthier and higher yielding crops
- Shorter chain Humic acids which are soluble and but very intolerant to low pHs
- Fulvic acids increase the permeability of plant cells and membranes which has been shown to both increase nutrient uptake and improve translocation to the growing points, decreasing stress on plants throughout the growing season. High rates of fulvic can cause negative growth effects.
- Both act as a natural chelator by enhancing the availability of metals, thus increased photosynthesis and sugar production translating into increased storage for plant defence.
- Both also act as carriers for other materials (incl. pesticides)– helping them enter the leaf quickly and efficiently when formulated appropriately as AMIX.
Where do our Humates come from?
Our humic and fulvic acids come from Leonardite which is a type of soft brown coal. Leonardite is believed to me a carbonification of organic matter from animals or fish (a sea bed) and is very rich in humic and fulvic acid. Leonardite has been produced over millions of years in the same way as coal, and contains all the natural products from prehistoric animal and plant life. Humic and Fulvic acids can be extracted chemically from Leonardite by chemical extraction – known as alkaline hydrolysis.