b'increasing on promoting the role of biostimulants in sustainableatures or help farmers time flowering and fruit setting relative agriculture and helping stakeholders throughout the food chainto expected frosts. to understand the benefits they provide. In this context, we are particularly happy to do this interview and would be happy toES: INSTEAD OF USING BIOSTIMULANTS, COULD cover specific topics seed producers might have in the future.A FARMER ACHIEVE THE SAME RESULTS WITH A COMBINATION OF FERTILIZERS AND CROP ES: THE WORD BIOSTIMULANT SEEMS TOPROTECTION PRODUCTS?ENCOMPASS QUITE A FEW DIFFERENT PRODUCTS.KS:Plant biostimulants are being introduced to address leaky HOW DOES EBIC DEFINE BIOSTIMULANT? holes in agricultural production and fill a different function from KS:Scientists note that plant biostimulants are defined by whatfertilizers and crop protection products. Plant biostimulants help they do, not by what they are made of. They consist of a wideoptimize natural processes in plants and in the root zone that variety of substances (hydrolysed proteins, humic and fulvicrelate to nutrition and stress responses. Fertilizers provide a acids, plant and seaweed extracts, some inorganic compounds,specific set of mineral nutrients, and plant protection products etc.) and microorganisms that improve plant nutrition and soiltarget pests and diseases.fertility. A growing share of products are complex formulations that include a combination of substances and/or microorganisms.ES: BIOSTIMULANTS WERE INITIALLY MAINLY USED Plant biostimulants enhance natural processes that increaseIN THE ORGANIC SECTOR. HAVE THEY BECOME nutrient use efficiency (including helping plants access nutrientsMAINSTREAM NOW?in the soil and fixing nitrogen), improve plant tolerance to abioticKS:Yes, plant biostimulants are widely used in many differ-stresses like extreme temperatures and drought, and improveent crops, including arable crops. On the other hand, we are harvest quality. They are defined by the function they provide. concerned that changes in the European regulation on organic production might actually make it more difficult to use plant ES: WHAT ARE THE MAIN ADVANTAGES OF USINGbiostimulants for organic production, which seems counter-BIOSTIMULANTS? productive. This is because biostimulant products are evolving KS:It depends on the biostimulant product. Overall, plantquickly because of R&D, and the positive-list approach of the biostimulants help plants use available resources more efficientlyorganic regulation does not cope well with innovation. Already, and help them better cope with difficult growing conditions suchweve seen that many of the substances that used in plant as extreme temperatures, drought, water logging, etc. Both ben- biostimulants have been totally overlooked in the new annex of efits can improve yields. Many biostimulants often improve qual- fertilising products allowed for organic production. ity traits such as sugar content or tolerance of handling. ES: DOES EACH BIOSTIMULANT WORK THE SAME IN EACH CROP, OR ARE THERE CROP SPECIFICITIES?KS:It depends on the biostimulant and what it is intended to do. Microbial plant biostimulants often have an indirect effectWE WOULD LOVE TO HAVE on plants by improving the microflora in the soil. The perfor- MORE PARTICIPANTS FROM THE mance of such products will often depend more on soil condi-tions than on the plants in question. Biostimulants that provideSEED SECTOR AT OUR NEXT EBIC general benefits like promoting early root growth work on groups of crops. The effects of biostimulants that improve quality willCONFERENCE IN ATHENS IN 2022.show more variability because the quality criteria are not the same; for example, you want peas to have lots of sugar and less starch but the opposite for potatoes. ES: IN DUE TIME, COULD BIOSTIMULANTS REPLACEES: IN WHICH SITUATIONS WOULD YOU ADVISE A FERTILIZERS AND/OR CROP PROTECTION PRODUCTS? FARMER TO USE BIOSTIMULANTS?KS:No. Biostimulants are complements to fertilizers and cropKS:It depends on the farmers specific situation, so a crop advisor protection products. Because many plant biostimulants improveis better placed to answer that question. As a general answer, nutrient uptake and use, they could reduce the amount of ferti- though, wed say that if farmers have high-performing integrated lizers applied, but not the amount of crop nutrients that plantsnutrition plans and want to try to further improve the efficiency need. So, the reductions would relate more to nutrients that areof their production and to make the crops more robust in the currently lost to the environment. By promoting general plantface of volatile growing conditions, its worth looking at plant vigour and growth, plant biostimulants could reduce the needbiostimulants. They offer a way to increase yields and return per for plant protection interventions, just as balanced nutrition withhectare for a modest investment. In short, plant biostimulants fertilizers does, but plant biostimulants do not provide plantare compatible with a lot of consumer demands for how their protection functions. What biostimulants are really doing isfood is grown, so plant biostimulants generally help farmers turning a two-legged stool into a three-legged stool, which willaddress growing sustainability demands while still increasing be steadier. yields and return per hectare.Plant biostimulants need to be integrated thoughtfully into ES: A LOT OF EMPHASIS THESE DAYS IS ON MAKINGfarming practices, which is why EBIC, and its members cultivate SURE CROPS CAN COPE WITH A CHANGINGrelationships with farmers, advisors, and other input sectors, as CLIMATE. CAN BIOSTIMULANTS HELP WITH THAT? well as the downstream food chain.KS:Tolerance to difficult growing conditions is a key functionEuropean Seed readers might be interested to know that of many biostimulants. There are various mechanisms throughseveral biostimulantsespecially those that promote early which they provide such benefits. Where plant biostimulantsroot growthcan be applied as a seed coating. The European promote root growth, they increase water uptake and thus makeCommission recently clarified that where the Fertilising it easier for plants to withstand dry conditions. Other biostim- Products Regulation says that plant biostimulants can be applied ulants help plants better tolerant very high or very low temper- at any growth stage, that includes seeds.34IEUROPEAN SEEDIEUROPEAN-SEED.COM'