Biostimulants are a rapidly growing new type of product that helps improve a plant's natural processes. They can increase the resilience of crops against biotic and abiotic stress, act as a fertilizer, or help improve the strength and quality of crops.
There's plenty of data out there demonstrating just how transformative biostimulants can be for crop growth and development, but there are demands for evidence of product claims, not to mention the strict legislative and regulatory controls on the horizon. At SGS, we believe there is a way through those challenges, with thorough efficacy testing and on and off-field analysis.
Tested under both protected and open field conditions, biostimulants have demonstrated favorable effects. They are effective at stimulating better crop growth and development, improving nutrient absorption and resistance to abiotic stress (such as cold, heat, drought, or flooding) and at enhancing harvest quality, and have other environmental and economic benefits.
Biostimulants can take microbial or non-microbial forms, such as:
-Plant and algae extracts
-Microorganisms and their derived extracts
-Amino acids and hydrolyzed proteins
-Humic substances or assimilated substances (such as humic acids, fulvic acids, or lignosulfonates)
-Non-nutritive mineral substances
-Biomolecules (such as enzymes, vitamins, or antioxidants)
As with any brand new category of products, regulators are working to establish clear standards regarding the claims made around biostimulants. In Europe, biostimulants are controlled under the fertilizer regulation, and under the EU Fertilizing Products Regulation (2019/1009) producers must demonstrate that their products have a justified plant biostimulant effect to place them on the market.
These standards are set to be expanded upon further by the Committee for European Standardization (CEN), to define how producers can demonstrate that their biostimulant claims are justified.
Biostimulant trials also differ from other trial types because of the need to monitor and quantify the product’s beneficial effects. This might involve investigating the root and shoot biomass, the development of leaf areas and the fruit size. Clearly, the evidence demands are high.
This is where SGS can help. We support the development of new biostimulant products from early screening through product characterization and testing, including performing regulatory field trials.
The SGS Center of Agricultural testing helps you select the best biostimulant candidates thanks to a suite of walk-in growth chambers and an R&D greenhouse facility. All are linked to an on-site laboratory dedicated to microbial investigations.
Elsewhere, our food laboratories are experienced at offering testing on all value related nutrients across plant tissues, including fruits and vegetables or processed food and feed. The final step is to undertake semi-field trials on small scale plots or demonstration field trials on a larger scale, to provide conclusive evidence of your product’s positive impact on plant resilience and yield.
Collecting sufficient data might involve drone flights or satellite imagery (NDVI), or the analysis of plant tissue in a laboratory, including mineral composition and the availability of nutrients in the soil.
SGS field trial operations are well established in Europe, Ukraine, Russia, US, Brazil, Argentina, Kenya, and Indonesia. Our growth chambers, greenhouses and field research capabilities support the effect and performance testing needed for biostimulants. We also support the safety and quality testing needed in our ecotoxicological and product chemistry laboratories. Once efficacy is proved, we also test your product’s compatibility with pesticides or fertilizer products in tank mixes, or as seed treatment solutions.