INSIDERSBiostimulantHow Nutrient Uptake Works — and why Seaweed Extract Bolsters it

How Nutrient Uptake Works — and why Seaweed Extract Bolsters it


Farmers know the maximum yield of a crop exists at the start of the season. They also know that as soon as they put that seed in the ground, their yield starts to decrease and can be drastically impacted throughout the season depending on environmental conditions, pathogens, insects, etc.

Ideally the farmer is doing everything they can to ensure their crop gets a good head start in order to reach its full potential. Most often this starts with fertilizer. But with the effects of higher prices and lack of availability, this important step in crop production may have been impacted and could be further impacted going forward as supply issues continue.

One tool that has been increasingly acknowledged as a solution to this problem is the application of seaweed extracts in combination with fertilizer. Biostimulants, such as seaweed extracts, have proven to enhance crop uptake of nutrients. An interesting concept when a farmer is faced with decreased application of fertilizer.

In fact, when applied to plants or seeds in specific formulations, these extracts have the capacity to modify the physiological processes in plants in a way that provides potential benefits to emergence, crop development and stress response.

Solid scientific proof of a biostimulant’s effectiveness can be hard to come by; Acadian Plant Health’s seaweed extract is an exception. Scientific literature is increasingly showing that seaweed extract assists the plant in nutrient uptake. Over the past several years, Acadian Plant Health has conducted nine different trials looking at the effect of our Ascophyllum nodosum seaweed extracts in reduced nitrogen situations.

We wanted to see the difference between a standard fertility program, a reduced fertility program and then Acadian seaweed extracts added to each scenario. In the trials we did, we consistently saw improved yield regardless of the fertility program when we added our Acadian technology, but what was even more interesting was we saw similar yields to the standard fertility program when we added Acadian extracts to the reduce fertility program.

From a scientific standpoint, we were able to track the bioactive compounds that are in our seaweed extracts such as polysaccharides, alginates, mannitol, amino acids, organic acid and betaines. When these compounds are present we see evidence of the chelation of nutrients, an improved rooting system for better up take of nutrients, improved stress tolerance, soil health and even enhanced nitrogen uptake and movement.

We’re not simply adding extra nutrients for the plant; we’re helping the plant to take up nutrients more effectively, and take advantage of the resources available to the plant. This results in enhanced growth, fuelled by a suite of genes that are responsible for growth, metabolism and stress response under limited nutrient conditions.

Another benefit of seaweed extract is a positive effect on nutrient distribution within the plant even when no extra nutrients are supplied.

Seaweed extract works on the plant’s natural nutrient uptake mechanisms — something unique to seaweed extract. Our team of experts have made this possible; we have a very robust and large technical team both internally and among our industry partners. We collaborate with contract research organizations and consultants, as well as academia and government researchers at a global level.

This extends the wealth of knowledge we have that we can apply to our products and to their use in the field and furthers our understanding of their efficacy and mode of action. By making such a strong investment in the scientific research and the people who work with us, we ultimately provide value to the grower at a time when those growers are increasingly in need of alternatives to synthetic chemistry.

Holly Little, Research and Development Manager, Acadian Plant Health
Holly Little, Research and Development Manager, Acadian Plant Health
Holly has a PhD in plant biology from the University of California, Davis. Her research there has led her to a career that has allowed her to bring new biological tools to growers around the world.