Farmers and other growers have had to deal with the inputs of controlled plant production for centuries. These have included the breeding of specific plant varieties, the use of soil organics, and later the application of chemical fertilizers and agrichemicial inputs such as pesticides, herbicides or fungicides. It was made plain at the Fourth Biostimulant World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, recently that there is now a new input category that must be recognized: biostimulants. This category of inputs includes seaweed, microbial inoculants, and various manufactured products which promote, encourage or otherwise create increases in biological activity resulting in growth, such as the biostimulant Vitazyme.
It is curious to note that not many years ago this category of materials for agriculture was scorned and ridiculed by mainline crop and soil scientists, in part because they were not understood, and were thought to be merit-less “snake oils”. Moreover, many startup companies that produced bona-fide biostimulant products were small and not well funded, meaning they could not afford costly research projects that would prove the efficacy of their materials. Times have changed, and persistent research and marketing efforts have served farmers with real, sometimes dramatic crop yield improvements. Biostimulants are now being used on an increasing scale to assist farmers with their bottom lines, helping them to survive the difficulties of low crop prices and high input costs.