Biostimulant Question Peanut Notes No. 35 2023
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Have any NC State researchers done any work on plant biostimulants? It looks like two common types are humid acid and seaweed extracts. I saw an article about Congress working on legislation around them. This article from 2015 proposed a definition as follows: A plant biostimulant is any substance or microorganism applied to plants with the aim to enhance nutrition efficiency, abiotic stress tolerance and/or crop quality traits, regardless of its nutrients content.
I don’t know if there has been an official definition established since. I’m not sure if these would have any benefits to peanuts. Probably in reducing abiotic stress or maybe accelerating early plant growth.
That does seem to be a very wide open definition. Over the years, I have looked at various products that likely fit that definition and I have seen very few impacts on yield of peanuts. Of course, I have not seen those types of products under all of the conditions, and I suspect there might be instances where they help. But I would expect that to be incremental and infrequent. In some cases, I have conducted more than 10 trials with some of these types of products and not seen a contribution to yield. Those trials are often conducted in situations where fertility, pest management and other inputs are in relatively good order. That does limit the “space” for something like these products to have a measurable impact.
One thing that happens is companies promoting products don’t always have to see a major response. I think their technical service employees, who are often in place to support sales, are looking for a data set that shows a response. Then that set of data is what is discussed but not always in the context of how many times a trial was conducted. They can also gain some credibility because they might say, “Well, there must be something to it because NC State or UGA is conducting trials to document the impact.”
Hope this helps.