When drier conditions make survival harder for plants, causing disease and fertility issues, biostimulants can be a great tool to use for a healthy lawn and landscape. Applied to plants, seeds or soil, biostimulants are used to help plants soak up nutrients and meet their fullest potential. The process works because the additives facilitate the breakdown of different nutrients in the soil for plants.
Landscapers often use biostimulants to protect plants against disease and drought, and limit the need for synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides which makes them popular in organic programs. “Biostimulants reduce fertilizer runoff, which is especially good for sites near watersheds,” says David Beaudreau, co-chair of the U.S. Biostimulant Coalition. “You’ll see yield improvements, better quantity or quality, better flower color.”
The use of biostimulants has risen steadily since the first trials in the early 1990s. Today, biostimulants are a modestly sized but rapidly growing market. According to a report by Markets & Markets, the entire industry today is valued at $1.24 billion industry and will be worth $2.241 billion by 2018.
One issue with using biostimulants, however, is picking the right brand. After research started showing the efficacy of biostimulants, a lot of companies started producing knockoffs that make it harder to find an effective biostimulant. The organic biostimulants that are reported to work well are made from plant hormones, vitamins, enzymes, humic acid, sugar, sea kelp and fish emulsion.
“The basic concept is that biostimulants improve the nutrient use efficiency of the plant in question,” Beaudreau says. “When used, plants absorb more of the nutrients from the soil.”
Another perk of using biostimulants is that they lessen dependence on artificial fertilizers, thereby lowering input costs and helping the environment. “When I use biostimulants, I’ll save about two pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of ground,” says Edward Fleming, agronomist for Lawns Unlimited. Fleming says that using biostimulants is also good for the environment because it cuts back on the amount of fertilizer that would run off to nearby bodies of water causing an algae bloom.