Biostimulants are a relatively new class of crop additive that suggests they can help grow healthier, therefore higher yield/quality crops.
Farming Smarter Research Coordinator Mike Gretzinger likens them to health supplements humans take to stay healthy and productive.
"Just as human health can benefit from optimum metabolic processes, so can plants The biostimulants work in many different ways, but in general they all stimulate natural process to happen more quickly and efficiently This led Farming Smarter and Lethbridge College to petition for a Canadian Agriculture Partnership: Science and Research Theme grant to study biostimulants in Alberta soils and crops.
The Comparison of Traditional Crop Inputs and Biostimulants Application on Wheat, Canola and Peas in Alberta study completed its first season at three Alberta locations in 2020.
This study compared traditional fertilizer inputs based on soil test recommendations (Traditional) with supplementary biostimulant packages (including Alpine, ATP, Penergetic, and Stoller) for their effect on crop growth and yield in wheat, field pea, and canola. Another treatment (Advanced) included application of seed treatment, plant growth regulators and fungicide along with traditional fertilizer inputs.
The study incorporates three locations across brown, grey, and black soil zones in Alberta and conducted experimental trials at Lethbridge (Farming Smarter), Falher (SARDA Ag Research) and Forestburg (Battle River Ag Research). This produced three site years of data for each crop. Researchers collected data for various growth and yield parameters. They compiled preliminary statistical analysis for the yield, biomass and protein content for wheat, field pea, and canola at these locations.
Researchers always caution that one year of data is not enough to make definitive statements on results. There will be two more years of data in a final assessment.
However, here is what they saw in 2020
Crop yield varied significantly across study locations (Figure 1), which is expected due to differing growing conditions. The Forestburg location received a late season hailstorm that may have reduced crop yields.
Wheat yield increased through the advanced treatment compared to traditional treatment at the Lethbridge and Falher sites (Figure 3). Canola yield did not vary significantly across different treatments.
For field pea, the effect of treatments on yield varied across study locations. Lethbridge saw a significant increase in pea yield with the advanced treatment compared to traditional inputs. Falher and Forestburg didn't see pea yield differences.
This project has a dedicated project page
Final results of this project will publish in 2024. To follow along with progress, attend Farming Smarter events or purchase an Agronomy Smarts subscription.