How can biostimulants sustainably maintain agriculture productivity

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The intersection of agriculture and the environment has been a centuries-long challenge, compelling the use of sustainable agricultural
practices in the last several decades to minimize environmental impacts. Several technologies have arisen to help increase
sustainability on farms. One of the most promising categories of technologies of this decade for improving agricultural production
across the United States is biostimulants.
Recent scientific research has highlighted the potential benefits of these substances for enhancing nutrient use efficiency,
increasing tolerance to and recovery from environmental stresses, and improving overall plant growth, quality, and yield. With over
700 scientific papers published on plant biostimulants between 2009 and 2019, it is evident that these substances hold great promise
for improving sustainability efforts in agronomic systems. As we continue to address the challenges posed by diverse growing
conditions, biostimulants serve as a novel tool to strengthen agriculture production.
Research shows that biostimulants have several functions to improve agricultural production and mitigate environmental impacts.
As discussed in this paper, findings show biostimulants can optimize fertilizer use by plants, thereby having the potential to reduce
off-farm nutrient runoff and greenhouse gas emissions by tailoring fertilizer practices. Some biostimulants, such as microalgae and
humic substances, also contribute to carbon sequestration by stabilizing soil organic matter helping to build soil carbon stores.
Moreover, biostimulants aid in plant resilience and recovery from abiotic stresses, particularly in conditions such as drought, extreme
temperatures, and flooding. In addition to farming practices like no-till, cover crops, and responsible nutrient stewardship,
biostimulants are a tool to further advance sustainable agriculture.
The biostimulant industry has made significant progress in defining and managing the quality of these products. The U.S. is moving
towards establishing a national definition outlined in the recently introduced Plant Biostimulant Act of 2023 (H.R. 1472 and S. 802).
Additionally, the industry has provided product guidelines with its “United States Biostimulant Industry Recommendations to Assess
the Efficacy, Composition, and Safety of Plant Biostimulant Products.”
Through its Action Plan for Climate Adaptation and Resilience, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has identified key
vulnerabilities facing U.S. agriculture, including decreased productivity, threats to water quantity and quality, disproportionate impacts
on vulnerable communities, shocks from extreme climate events, and stress on infrastructure and public lands. To tackle these
challenges, the USDA has outlined a comprehensive approach that includes investments in soil health, outreach and education,
broadened access to climate data, increased support for research and development, and leveraging climate hubs for adaptation
science and tools.
Biostimulants may address many of the USDA identified key vulnerabilities by maintaining soil health, optimizing nutrient
management, and contributing to soil carbon sequestration, all while increasing crop production. By incorporating biostimulants into
farming strategies, there is great potential for farmers to grow crops more seamlessly under environmental stresses and enhance
agricultural productivity. Biostimulants are a tool to help mitigate the impacts of climate change in agriculture while preserving critical
ecosystem services.
While biostimulants are an extremely promising technology for improving agricultural production, their impacts can be highly variable between micro-climates. Each biostimulant has yet to be optimized in agricultural production with standardized recommendations from our universities. Standard university recommendations exist for cropping inputs like fertilizers and crop protection products, yet this new product type, biostimulants, requires further study for greater deployment across the landscape.

Furthermore, each type of biostimulant has independent modes of action that may hold potential for important new scientific discoveries. This new field of agronomic science holds incredible potential but is in its beginning stages. Farmers and researchers recognize the potential of biostimulants and are asking for research on how to use them most effectively and build a foundation for successful adoption. We strongly urge the USDA to prioritize research on how biostimulants can impact and improve plant and soil health in various crops, soils, environments, and climatic conditions.

In conclusion, biostimulants have emerged as a novel and valuable tool for sustainable agriculture, aligning with the USDA’s efforts to build resilience. By investing in the study of biostimulants’ impact on plant and soil health, their full potential may be recognized as a valuable tool. We strongly encourage policy makers to support and prioritize research into biostimulants as part of our collective commitment to sustainable agriculture.

Substances that are now referred to as biostimulants have been used as agricultural enhancements, especially for the enrichment of soil fertility, since earliest recorded history.1 Scientific research into the efficacy and mechanisms of action of these substances has been ongoing since the 1700s2, and commercial products made for the explicit purpose of improving crop production have been in distribution for at least the past 50 years. Generally, plant biostimulants are described as providing one or more of the following benefits: improved plant and soil health, increased tolerance to environmental (abiotic) stresses (e.g., drought, flood, extreme temperature variations, saline irrigation water, etc.), and enhanced overall plant growth, quality, and yield.3 Some biostimulants can increase nutrient uptake by plants, optimizing fertilizer use by the plant4, which in turn can reduce off-farm nutrient runoff and loss to the atmosphere as greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In addition, biostimulants such as microalgae and humic substances have the potential to increase carbon sequestration through stabilization of soil organic matter5-6 while maintaining agricultural productivity.

Increased tolerance to and recovery from abiotic stresses can also help plants cope with many aspects of climate change, especially in conditions of drought and flooding. Biostimulants, when used appropriately, can serve as an additional tool to support the climate- smart farming practices of no-till, cover crops, and responsible nutrient stewardship (4Rs: right nutrient, right timing, right rate, right placement).

USDA Efforts on Climate Change
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in its 2021 Action Plan for Climate Adaptation and Resilience7, indicated its intention to develop innovative tools and practices for farmers and land managers of the future to address the climate crisis. The USDA identified five vulnerabilities that face U.S. agriculture:
1. Decreased productivity, including reduced soil quality
2. Threat to water quantity and quality, including drought, soil erosion, and nutrient runoff
3. Disproportionate impacts on vulnerable communities, including food production risks
4. Shocks due to extreme climate events, including drought, floods, and fire
5. Stress on infrastructure and public lands

The USDA plans adaptation actions that include (1) investments in soil health, (2) outreach and education to promote adoption
and application of climate-smart adaptation strategies, (3) broadened access to and availability of climate data to producers and land
managers, (4) increased support for research and development of climate-smart practices and technologies, and (5) leveraging the
USDA Climate Hubs as a framework to support the delivery of adaptation science, technology, and tools.
In its 90-day progress report on the Action Plan8, the USDA further delineated its plan to increase climate resilience, sequester
carbon, enhance agricultural productivity, and maintain critical environmental benefits through nature-based climate solutions,
including building on programs such as the Soil Health Initiative and implementing market-based approaches for incentivizing climate-
friendly agriculture commodities such as carbon markets.

Biostimulants: Definition and Regulation
As the biostimulants market has grown to over $2 billion in the last few years9, developing specific definitions and use regulations
have become important to biostimulant producers and users alike. The European Union was an early leader in this area, when in 2019
it implemented its “Fertilising Products Regulation”10 that defined plant biostimulants as products that “stimulate plant nutrition
processes independently of the product’s nutrient content with the sole aim of improving one or more of the following characteristics
of the plant or the plant rhizosphere: (1) nutrient use efficiency, (2) tolerance to abiotic stress, (3) quality traits, or (4) availability of
confined nutrients in the soil or rhizosphere.
The U.S. has been slower to act, though a great deal of progress was recently made. In the Plant Biostimulant Act of 2023 (H.R.
1472 and S. 802)11 introduced in the House of Representatives and Senate, a national definition of plant biostimulants was given:
“The term ‘plant biostimulant’ means a substance, micro-organism, or mixture thereof, that, when applied to seeds, plants, the
rhizosphere, soil, or other growth media, act to support a plant’s natural processes independently of the biostimulant’s nutrient
content, thereby improving nutrient availability, uptake or use efficiency, tolerance to abiotic stress, and consequent growth,
development, quality, or yield.”
In addition, the Bills requests the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to conduct a study to assess the types of, and practices using, plant
biostimulants that best achieve the following:11
• “Increasing organic matter content
• Reducing atmospheric volatilization
• Promotion of nutrient management practices
• Limiting or eliminating runoff or leaching of soil or nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen into groundwater or other water sources
• Restoring beneficial bioactivity or healthy nutrients to the soil
• Aiding in carbon sequestration, nutrient use efficiency, and other climate-related benefits
• Supporting innovative approaches to improving agricultural sustainability, including the adoption of performance-based outcome standards and criteria”
Because fertilizer products must be registered in every state in which they are sold and used, biostimulant producers have long lobbied for specific definitions that states could use and that would not subject the products to federal regulation, as is the case with pesticides and plant growth regulators (PGRs). The EPA, which regulates pesticides and PGRs, followed H.R. 7752 with its own definition of biostimulants in December of 2022. The DRAFT Guidance for Plant Regulator Products and Claims, Including Plant
Biostimulants,12 if adopted, excludes biostimulants from EPA regulatory oversight if:
“. . . it can be demonstrated that the substances contained in such products may have significant commercially valuable uses other
than as plant regulators (i.e., pesticides), they may be excluded from regulation under FIFRA in the absence of any plant regulator
claims (see examples in Table 3) and in the absence of any other pesticidal claims (e.g., anti-plant pathogen claims). Review of such
“multiple use” products may be conducted by the Agency under PRIA Code M009.”
“For example, if a product containing seaweed extracts or humic acids is intended for use in alleviating abiotic stress (e.g., extreme
temperature, drought/salt stress) on plants, or for stimulating increased nutrient assimilation from the soil, is labeled using product
claim examples (Tables 1a-c and 2), and can provide product performance data supporting such product claims, the product may be
excluded from regulation under FIFRA.”
The biostimulant products industry has also made significant contributions to defining biostimulants that have a proven track record
and providing guidance and best practices for scientific validation of their efficacy. In its United States Biostimulant Industry
Recommendations to Assess the Efficacy, Composition, and Safety of Plant Biostimulant Products,13 the Biostimulant Industry
Workgroup, a collaboration of the Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA) and The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) Biostimulant Council,
identified the following 6 plant biostimulant categories and gave specific recommendations for validating plant biostimulant efficacy
claims, verifying plant biostimulant composition, and conducting plant biostimulant safety assessments:
• Live microbial products (e.g., Rhizobacter sp., Bacillus sp., Azotobacter sp., Azospirillum sp., Glomus sp., Trichoderma sp., etc.)
• Complex products based on non-living microorganisms and their metabolites
• Algal or plant extracts derived from macroalgae (e.g., Ascophyllum sp., Ecklonia sp. Fucus sp., Kappaphycus sp., Laminaria sp.,
Sargassum sp., Ulva sp., etc.), microalgae (e.g., Chlorella sp., Spirulina sp., etc.), or higher plants (e.g., Allium sp., Brassica sp.,
Digitalis sp., Lupinus sp., Lycopersicon sp., Medicago sp., etc.)
• Complex carbon-based products including mined humic substances (e.g., Leonardite, oxidized lignite, oxidized sub-bituminous
coals, humalite, carbonaceous shales (including humic shale), peat, sapropel, etc.) and others (e.g., vermicompost/worm
castings, compost waste materials, biochar, etc.), or liquid extracts derived from these materials (e.g., compost tea, etc.)
• Protein hydrolysate and amino acids manufactured via hydrolysis or enzymatic treatment of animal or plant protein feedstock
or obtained synthetically
• Defined molecules purified from minerals, plants, animals, microbes, or obtained through synthesis (e.g., amino acids,
polyamines, polyphenols, betaines, oligosaccharides, alginates, carboxylic acids, fatty acids, chitin, chitosan, etc.) and minerals not
recognized as plant nutrients (e.g., silicon, selenium, etc.)
Over 700 scientific papers were published between 2009 and 2019 on plant biostimulants, demonstrating the potential for plant
biostimulants to increase nutrient use efficiency, improve tolerance to abiotic stress, enhance beneficial genetic expression, and
improve crop productivity and quality. Not only can biostimulants strengthen agronomic approaches to resilience, but they also serve
as a novel and valuable tool to U.S. farming communities looking to implement soil health practices. In this paper, the use of plant
biostimulants to maintain agricultural productivity is described, in order to educate policy makers and federal agencies, is in alignment
with the USDA efforts.
USDA Action 1: Build Resilience Across Landscapes with Investments in Soil and Forest Health
Maintaining soil health from the use of biostimulants alongside proper nutrient management
Nutrient management is extremely important in order to optimize plant growth (and ultimately yield) and improve soil quality
while also reducing downstream pollution due to leaching and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions due to atmospheric loss. While
the amount of corn produced in the U.S. has significantly increased since 1980, total crop inputs, including fertilizer, have remained
mostly flat. This was achieved by advances in better application methods, improved machinery for timely applications and placement
of fertilizers, and primarily, by advances in crop breeding to make crops more productive and less susceptible to both biotic and abiotic
stresses. Over the last decade, the progress seen in the first 30 years has slowed, and the challenge is now to discover and employ
new technologies that will lead to further progress in nutrient use efficiency. Adoption of 4R (utilizing the right fertilizer source at the
right rate at the right time and in the right place) nutrient practices has improved soil health and reduced the environmental impact
of fertilizers while simultaneously increasing crop yields (including growing more food on less land). In addition, implementation of 4R
methods also leads to the preservation of water resources, builds soil fertility, increases biodiversity, and reduces greenhouse gas
emissions, all while reducing economic strain on farmers and the overall food system.
Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) are macronutrients that are fundamental for biological systems. N is essential for all living things and
is key for the synthesis of nucleic acids and proteins. While the development of the Haber-Bosch process for ammonia production from
atmospheric nitrogen was critical for alleviating N limitations within agriculture, it has also led to substantially increased amounts of N
fertilizer applications and the amount of N moving through the environment. P can be present in soils at relatively high contents but can
complex with other elements when soil pH levels are not near neutral, rendering P unavailable to the plant. Maintaining soil test P levels
is a critical element of P management for adequate crop nutrition. Biostimulants applied alongside nutrients can aid in optimizing (and
potentially reducing) fertilizer applications without sacrificing yields by increasing nutrient use efficiency and bioavailability. Most
importantly, the increased nutrient use efficiency ensures more of the applied nutrients get into the plant and prevents loss through
runoff, leaching, and volatilization to non-farm environments.
Increased nutrient use efficiency from the inclusion of biostimulants can occur through (1) enhanced agronomic efficiency, where
applied or residual nutrients are more bioavailable, more mobile, and/or taken up more effectively, or (2) by improved internal utilization
where biostimulants assist in converting nutrients to increased yields.14 While nutrient acquisition is a critical aspect of nutrient use
efficiency, it is equally as important that the nutrients acquired are utilized efficiently to either increase the harvestable yield or to
increase the nutrient content or quality of the harvested crop. There are many possible mechanisms for increased NUE, including
enhanced root growth that allows roots to reach more nutrients and water within the soil profile, improved solubilization and
bioavailability of nutrients, and the genetic regulation of nutrient uptake and internal mobilization within the plant.
Many studies have shown that biostimulants applied alongside proper nutrition can increase crop yields, and some have shown that
fertilizer application rates can be reduced while maintaining consistent crop yields if biostimulant applications successfully improve
nutrient use efficiency. One study using biostimulants highlighted that the fertilizer rate could be reduced by 25% without sacrificing
yield.15 Another study showed that a 40% reduction in NPK nutrition alone caused statistically significant decreases in the final yield of
tomatoes but that the use of a biostimulant increased yield to a statistically significant degree when applied alongside both the standard
and the 40% reduced nutritional programs.16 The biostimulant application with the 40% reduced rate showed yields that were not
statistically different from the standard NPK program without the biostimulant. The application of biostimulants alongside proper
nutrition could potentially allow for the maintaining of agricultural productivity with less loss of nutrients from the cropping system
(decreasing environmental problems with N and P runoff such as eutrophication). Genetic expression studies have shown that nitrate
transport and translocation within the plant may be responsible for increased N use efficiency when biostimulants are applied with N
fertilizers.17-18 The positive benefits of allowing more of the N applied to be utilized by the plant are clear, but another co-benefit is that
atmospheric loss due to N volatilization as N2O (which has a warming potential 298 times that of CO2) can be decreased with improved
N use efficiency.
Global sequestration potential of organic carbon in cropland soils from the use of biostimulants
Zomer et al.19 summarized in Nature’s Scientific Reports that changes in soil cultivation since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution
accounts for 136 petagrams (Pg, 1015 g), or 136 Gigatons (GT, 109 tons), of carbon (C) loss from biomass and 78 Pg from soil organic C.
This total estimated 214 Pg C loss from land changes is comparable to the additional estimated 270 Pg C loss from fossil fuel combustion.
The report states that the global soil C pool (1 m deep) estimated at 2500 Pg, with 1500 Pg stored in soil organic C, is about 3.2 times
larger than atmospheric C and 4 times larger than the biotic pool. It also reports that global cropland stores over 140 Pg of soil organic C
in the top 30 cm of soil, with over 50% of soil organic C stored in North America, Eurasia (Russia), and Europe, with U.S. stocks estimated
at 18.9 Pg. It is estimated that cropland can sequester globally 0.9-1.85 Pg C per year, while the potential global C sequestration from
restoration of depleted grasslands is estimated at 3 Pg per year.20 Agricultural land in the U.S. has the potential to sequester 0.27 Pg (or
270 million tons) of C per year if best management practices are implemented, including cover crops, no-tillage, and 4R nutrient
management. Thompson et al.21 estimates that putting all U.S. cropland to no-till would sequester 123 million tons (or 0.123 Pg) of C,
and planting cover crops will additionally sequester 147 million tons (or 0.147 Pg) of C per year.
A portion of plant biomass accumulation (i.e., carbon fixed into biomass) is partitioned below ground in the root system. Along with
the role that roots play in producing root exudates to feed and stimulate soil microbial communities, increased biomass accumulation
and partitioning to the soil environment (roots or root exudates), or biostimulants directly applied to the soil in the form of microbial
concentrates are all tools to increase soil carbon sequestration. Biostimulants can support these sustainable (and also regenerative)
practices and carbon sequestration in the soil in numerous ways:
• By enhancing microbial biomass and soil enzymatic activity, to maintain (and possibly increase) soil biodiversity, as shown by
Castiglione et al.22 in their review of microbial biostimulants alone, in consortium, or in combination with non-microbial
biostimulants as a solution to limit land degradation and support sustainable land management
• By supporting healthy, productive soil microbiome ecosystems, as the global food system is the primary driver of biodiversity
loss.23 Additional research is needed to better understand the role biostimulants play in how microbial communities are
sustained24 or potentially increased to include a more diverse profile25-26
• By improving root biomass production, as shown by Wozniak et al.27 in a review of trials conducted with plant biostimulants
based on seaweed extracts, humic acids, protein hydrolysates, miscellaneous natural and/or synthetic mixtures, and live
microorganisms that highlighted increases of root growth of several crops/plants grown in field and/or under controlled conditions
• By enhancing phytoremediation efficiency, where biostimulants are utilized to remediate contamination sites28
• By reducing carbon footprints, as shown by Hamedani et al.29 during the use of plant biostimulants based on Mycorrhiza and
protein hydrolysates applied on greenhouse-grown zucchini and spinach
Taken together, by (1) improving nutrient uptake and reducing fertilizer loss in concert with the implementation of the 4Rs, (2)
maintaining (and possibly increasing) soil biodiversity, and (3) rebuilding the C reservoir in soils, biostimulants support ecological
resilience, restoration, watershed stewardship, and overall soil health while maintaining agricultural productivity.
USDA Action 4: Increase Support for Research and Development of Practices and Technologies to Inform USDA and Help Producers
and Land Managers
Enhanced expression of crop genetic potential from the use of biostimulants
Broad implementation of biostimulants into agricultural practices can enhance genetic expression of beneficial crop traits in order to
tolerate environmental stressors. Increased biomass accumulation leads to the potential for increased carbon sequestration, particularly
in the soil, and often a more consistent food supply. The genetic potential of crops for productivity has been shaped through eons of
natural adaptation, as well as the efforts of human civilization directed toward early domestication activities, selection and breeding for
desirable traits, and more recent technological advances like transgenic and CRISPR manipulation of plant DNA. Ultimately, all these
changes affect either potential plant biomass accumulation because of more efficient capture and conversion of solar energy or altered
partitioning of biomass into the optimal plant organ (forage, fruits, grain, edible roots, etc.) for use by society.
Crop stress tolerance, directly or indirectly, has been a target of crop improvement efforts. This includes selection of genotypes that
are more tolerant to environmental stresses, such as high temperature, water deficits, or salinity, as well as cultural stresses like increased
plant density that are concomitant with modern agricultural production systems. Despite the progress made through plant breeding for
increased stress tolerance, plant stress is still a major threat to crop yields, particularly in areas of the world that have limited access to
high quality soils, irrigation water, or crop nutrients applied as fertilizers.
Although a superior crop variety may exhibit tolerance to one specific stress, it is often true that susceptibility to other stresses exist
in the same genotype due to the challenges of breeding for complex, multigenic traits. Selection for an improved phenotype in one stress-
response pathway may lead to unintentional trade-offs, or otherwise less than optimal characteristics, in other stress responses.
Furthermore, plant responses to environmental perturbations are conservative and are adapted to ensuring the survival and fitness of a
few progenies such as seeds. In managed agricultural systems, these conservative responses to stress are often undesirable, as they
reduce production. Thus, the farmer or agronomist will likely respond with adaptive management strategies like irrigation or nutrient
application. Exogenous applications of certain biostimulants can promote less conservative plant responses, allowing for conserved
productivity potential. Appropriately designed and chosen biostimulants have the potential to modulate the expression of existing plant
stress response pathways to better react to the unpredictable occurrence of environmental stressors in a changing climate.30-31
Biostimulants can reduce production deficits by both improving nutrient use efficiency and mitigating abiotic stress. Improved
nutrient use efficiency from enhancement of the utilization of nutrients is achieved through promoting fine root growth, stimulating
root enzymes involved in nutrient uptake, and increasing microbial activity that leads to increased soil nutrient availability. Additionally,
biostimulants may up-regulate the expression of enzymes directly involved in the uptake, assimilation, or transport of mineral nutrients.
The role that biostimulants play in enhancing the expression of genetic yield potential, especially under abiotic stress conditions, which
is discussed more below, can be illustrated as a yield increase compared to non-treated control plants/plots. The impact of
biostimulants on crop yield was reviewed using 126 trials reported in 50 articles addressing 15 groups of plant biostimulants, tested on
over 70 crops, with about 80% showing yield increases in at least one trial. Out of 380 treatments, 59% showed an average 29% yield
increases with reported p≤0.05, and 41% showed an average 8% yield increase with p>0.05.27 These outcomes focus on the need for
biostimulants as an additional tool for growers to maintain production while providing ecosystem services, like increased carbon
sequestration and soil health. Another important role that biostimulants execute for maintaining agricultural productivity is their ability
to mitigate abiotic stress, or pressures imparted on plants due to the environment (i.e., heat, cold/frost, excess moisture, saline
irrigation waters, etc.).
Mitigation of abiotic stress from the use of biostimulants
It has been reported that on average crops are only producing about 24% of their actual yield potential, with about 11% of yield loss
due to biotic stress (such as pests, weeds, and diseases) and 65% due to abiotic stress.32 Abiotic stress can be difficult to predict and
control, and it can also be amplified by climate change, due to the increased frequency of droughts, extreme temperature variations,
and excess moisture events. Biostimulants have been shown to improve the tolerance to and recovery from abiotic stress by:
• Increasing heat tolerance: Biostimulants, including examples of protein hydrolysate-based chemistries33, increase plant heat
tolerance by activating specific heat shock proteins, antioxidant systems, and scavengers of reactive oxygen species.34
• Increasing drought tolerance: Biostimulants can increase plant drought tolerance by improving plant metabolism and
increasing the activity of antioxidant compounds and enzymes.30,35 Physiological responses include improved stomatal
regulation, osmotic adjustment, and other mechanisms that help plants cope with drought stress.36 Additionally, biostimulants
can improve nutrient uptake under drought conditions, which helps plants maintain their growth and productivity.
• Increasing sap Brix, which is linked to stronger cell walls, enhanced photosynthetic activity, and increased root exudates.37-38
• Reducing oxidative damage caused by reactive oxygen species by increasing enzymatic activity and decreasing the impairment
of the plant’s photosystem.39-40
• Increasing nutrient use efficiency, as described above, to give plants a better chance to withstand stress events that may occur
during critical periods of growth.
Overall, biostimulants remain one of the most promising technologies available to today’s farmers. Biostimulants are a tool growers
can use to improve natural plant functions that also aim to reduce the environmental impacts that are bound to the nature of agriculture.
Biostimulants that help to mitigate abiotic stress are of particular importance to U.S. growers. The increase of nutrient use efficiency
provides a window of opportunity for growers to apply fertilizer that will be utilized more completely by the plant, helping to reduce
nutrient loss. Modern agriculture cannot focus only on production and final yields without considering the health of the environment.
An emphasis must also be placed on fostering conservation and innovation, in order to maintain soil health and prevent the loss of
ecological biodiversity.
There is great potential for these biostimulant products, but public research is greatly lacking. Though biostimulants could be hugely
influential to growers, the lack of knowledge on how to best employ them could render them useless. There is no silver bullet to achieve
sustainability and resilience, but biostimulants could be a part of the adaptation strategy should growers and researchers learn how to
use them in production agriculture systems. For some biostimulants, there is a well-established body of work, and for others research
is lacking. In order to create confidence and increase adoption among growers, research with land-grant institutions will be essential.
Biostimulants have the potential to be important tools that could allow farmers to grow more with less, improving their sustainability
footprint and preserving natural resources.
With appropriate research and implementation, the use of biostimulants alongside responsible nutrient stewardship (4Rs: right
nutrient, right timing, right rate, right placement) support other climate-smart farming practices such as no-till and cover crops. As the
USDA continues to identify and alleviate agricultural vulnerabilities, resources for further research into biostimulant technologies should
be included in their efforts to increase resilience, sequester carbon, and maintain agricultural productivity. This additional support of
U.S. farming communities, via education of agricultural retailers, farmer cooperatives, certified crop advisors, etc., could also assist with
the ease of inclusion of biostimulants into standard grower practices.


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