Crop biostimulants

Biostimulant product types available in the UK and the level of evidence for effects on cereals and oilseed rape (OSR) crops are outlined in this publication

What are biostimulants?

The definition of ‘biostimulants’ is under debate. According to a widely used definition from the European Biostimulants Industry Council, a biostimulant is a material that contains substances and/or micro-organisms whose function, when applied to plants or the rhizosphere, is to stimulate natural processes to enhance/benefit nutrient uptake, nutrient efficiency, tolerance to environmental stress and crop quality. It should also be noted that a biostimulant’s main role should not be to provide fertilisation or pesticidal activity. Any product marketed as a pesticide must have a Ministerially Approved Pesticide Product (MAPP) number. Due to a lack of consensus on the term, there are no specific frameworks for regulating biostimulants in the EU, United States and other countries. The European Commission, however, intends to revise Regulation (EC) No.2003/2003 (the Fertiliser Regulation) and extend its scope to include plant biostimulants (among other materials).

Latest information

  • Some biostimulants can affect plant growth and development positively, according to an AHDB-funded review
  • The biostimulant product types available in the UK and the level of evidence for effects on cereals and oilseed rape crops are outlined in this publication

Points to consider

  • Understand the environment into which biostimulants are being introduced, especially for products containing microorganisms
  • Follow product labels and, if necessary, consult a professional agronomist
  • Some biostimulant products are derived from mammalian tissue by-products, including pork and beef material. It is essential to check the acceptability of their use with your trade customers or buyers

A microscopic photograph of in vitro arbuscular mycorrhizae culture