What are non-microbial plant biostimulants?
Understanding non-microbial biostimulants use in turf management.
Plant biostimulants are substances or materials, other than nutrients, that promote plant growth when applied in small quantities. Non-microbial biostimulants, as implied by the name, do not contain microorganisms such as bacteria or fungi.
These biostimulants are typically derived from various organic or inorganic substances and can include amino acids, humic substances, seaweed extracts and surfactants.
Contrasting with microbial biostimulants that use living organisms to enhance plant growth and soil health, non-microbial biostimulants rely on chemical or biological compounds that do not involve live microbes.
This distinction is significant because non-microbial biostimulants are often more stable, have a longer shelf life, and their effects can be more predictable and consistent.
Proving a label claim
According to the FPR 2022 any product claiming to be a ‘non-microbial plant biostimulant’ needs to be supported by multiple robust trials which demonstrate a significant improvement in at least one of the following claims.
- Nutrient use efficiency
- Tolerance to abiotic stress
- Improved plant quality traits
- Availability in confined nutrients in soil or rhizosphere
Benefits of Using Non-Microbial Plant Biostimulants in Turf Management
Enhanced Growth and Vigour
Non-microbial plant biostimulants can significantly improve turf growth and vigour. They often contain compounds that result in enhanced root growth, increased photosynthesis, and improved nutrient uptake and efficiency.
This results in healthier, more robust turf better equipped to withstand environmental stresses.
Improved Stress Tolerance
Turfgrass frequently faces various stresses, including drought, extreme temperatures, and salinity.
Some non-microbial biostimulants can enhance the turf’s ability to withstand these stresses by improving the plant’s physiological and biochemical processes, leading to increased resilience.
Soil Health Improvement
While they do not contain living organisms, non-microbial biostimulants can still positively impact soil health.
They can increase water-holding capacity, and stimulate the activity of beneficial soil microorganisms, thereby creating a more conducive environment for turf growth.
Non-microbial biostimulants can be derived from natural sources and so might be considered environmentally friendly. Their usage can reduce the need for chemical fertilisers and pesticides, thus minimising the ecological footprint of turf management practices.
Employing non-microbial biostimulants can be cost-effective in the long run. By improving turf health and reducing the necessity for other inputs, they can lower overall management costs.
Additionally, their stable nature and longer shelf life mean less waste and more efficient resource usage.
Non-microbial plant biostimulants represent a promising approach for integrated turf management programmes.
By understanding their nature and benefits, turf managers can effectively integrate these biostimulants into their practices, leading to healthier turf, improved environmental sustainability, and economic efficiency.
As the industry continues to evolve, embracing these innovative solutions will be key to successful and responsible turf management.