b'BIOSTIMULANTS AND SEEDS,A WINNING PAIRB iostimulants and seeds: we will hear aboutThe use of these products also means a reduction them, and a lot, in the near future. Currently,of environmental contamination and a protection of biostimulants are increasingly mentioned inbiodiversity, so their market is steadily growing, with technical magazines and in communications issuedannual increases of around 10 per cent and a turnover by various stakeholders in the agricultural sector. of 3.5 billion euros globally. Biostimulants are natural products that contain substances and/or microorganisms capable of pro- SUPPORTING FARMERS TRANSITION moting the growth and development of plants duringTO SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTUREthe entire production cycle. They can be based onThe economic return remains to be fully evaluated. In By: Franco Brazzabeni algae, humic and fulvic acids, fungi, bacteria andfact, biostimulants today are mainly used on fruit and hydrolysates proteins, and can be used on almost allvegetable species, capable of offering a higher income cultivated plants.to producers. However, recently carried out analyses An increasing number of researchers and tech- show that every euro spent on biostimulants allows nicians are convinced that biostimulants representfor a gain of 2,78. The limit, if we want to call it that, the third column for achieving sustainable agricul- of biostimulants is their short period of efficiency on tural; production effectively. plants; therefore they must be applied on the leaves To maintain and increase the productive poten- or in the soil several times during the season (from tial of crops, considering climate change and thethree to nine, depending on the species and the envi-limitations on the use of pesticides and syntheticronment), starting from the stage of already formed fertilizers foreseen by the European Green Deal,plants. A further leap is needed, which could be rep-there are great expectations towards New Geneticresented by the application of biostimulants directly Techniques and Agriculture 4.0. on the seed.For the former, the goal of a new EU regulation is approaching, but it will still take time before itBIOSTIMULANTS AND SEEDS, THE NEW will be possible to use these new technologies. InFRONTIERfact, in December 2023, the proposed regulationThe specialists are working on treatments with was not approved by the Commission. Some modi- biostimulants directly on the seed. This solution, if fications to the text are required and need approval,its full functionality is confirmed, could constitute a including the mandatory labelling of seeds obtaineddecisive advance in the use of these products. First of with first category NGTs and a study on the impactall, the distribution of biostimulants on seeds could of the legislation on plant patenting. With electionsguarantee greater effectiveness, thanks to their pres-in sight, an agreement will not likely be reachedence from the very early stages of growth. It could before 2025. also allow a longer duration of their effect, limiting On the other hand, 4.0 technologies are pro- the number of further treatments in later stages. If gressing slowly: there are already several toolsthis turns out to be true, the distribution of biostim-available to farmers, but high costs and insufficientulants directly on the seeds would lead to two impor-know-how have so far significantly delayed theirtant results: better performances and at the same time diffusion.lower costs.So, the contribution that microbiology can pro- Ongoing research and experimentation will vide today, both to organic and integrated farming,have to provide the answers and confirm the hopes. therefore seems worthy of great attention. We already know today that biostimulants applied to seeds determine an improvement in germination, STATE OF THE ART even in difficult situations, a significant starter effect, The positive action of biostimulants in favour of culti- increased vigour of seedlings and post-transplant per-vated plants is divided into five directions: resistanceformance, and better yield. to biotic and abiotic stresses, plant development, effi- All this is possible in a context of integrated agri-ciency in the use of nutrients, quantity and quality ofculture, with the appropriate cultivation techniques.production. The results are now widely demonstrated and beyond question. On top of that, it has been ver- Editors Note: Franco Brazzabeni is commercial and ified that the application of biostimulants on somemarketing consultant in the international agribusiness, horticultural crops has reduced CO 2emissions byMember of the Board of Assosementi and of ISF Groups between 10 and 20 per cent.and writes a blog on www.agrinotes.it28ISEED WORLD EUROPEISEEDWORLD.COM/EUROPE'