Biostimulants continue to gain attention

THE use of biostimulants to enhance potato growth and yield continues to gain attention, with recent studies showing that a well-designed program can increase tuber number and yield as well as improve the uniformity of tubers.

Made from substances or microorganisms that are applied to the soil or directly to plants with the aim of enhancing nutrient uptake, stress tolerance, and overall plant vigour, biostimulants differ from traditional fertilisers which primarily provide essential nutrients. Instead they work to improve the plant's physiological processes, leading to increased growth and yield.

The Crop Smith, a supplier of seaweed-extract biostimulants, carried out recent trials with a specific focus on improving tuber initiation and formation and subsequent uniformity.

Technical Director Sam Brown said: “Implementing a biostimulants program involves the strategic application of these substances throughout the potato growing season. In our 2023 field studies we implemented a programme of microbial soil treatments combined with foliar sprays of a high-quality seaweed extract, with the objective of creating a synergistic effect that positively influences the potato plants' development.”

She said the science behind this approach is well established: The correct soil microbes contribute to improved nutrient uptake and absorption and seaweed extracts stimulate hormonal activity within the plant, promoting the initiation of additional tubers.

“In addition, seaweed extracts protect the crop from various environmental stresses throughout the growing season. Heat stress and drought can seriously impact tuber development and yield. Improved stress resilience contributes to more robust tuber development, even in challenging growing environments,” she said.

The biostimulants programme supported the development of a greater number of tubers and delivered 3.83 extra tubers per plant. In field, with a population of 24,000 plants per hectare, that represents an additional 92,000 tubers per hectare.

Read our full feature on biostimulants and other nutrition updates in the March issue of Potato Review. You can subscribe here.

British Potato Review
Potato Review reports on new developments in all areas of crop production, storage, handling and packing, as well as scientific, technological and machinery innovations in the UK and overseas. We also keep readers abreast of consumer trends and legislation changes impacting on the industry.
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