According to experts from the Industry Alliance for the Promotion of the Distribution of Biological Products (BPIA), the latest biopesticides and biostimulants are drugs with a reduced risk of use. That is why this segment of the market for biological products is growing at an accelerated pace.
BPIA is today a rapidly growing association with over 130 members from a wide variety of companies. Membership in the association unites both small innovative individual entrepreneurs and large international companies. In 2017, BPIA decided to include biostimulants in its area of interest. BPIA has extensive experience with biopesticides, so the decision to turn their attention to the biostimulant category was logical
Research firm Dunham Trimmer (part of the BRIA association) estimates the value of the global biostimulator market at more than $ 2,2 billion. According to her forecast, the value of this market will exceed 5 billion US dollars by 2025. Combined with the global market for biocontrol products, the total combined market value for organic crops will exceed $ 8 billion in 2020 and $ 16 billion by 2025. The total annual increase in the segment of biostimulation products is estimated at 13%. This is more than three times the growth rate of the plant protection market in 2017. Such a powerful recovery is due to the global need to increase crop production using sustainable techniques with the least risk to the environment. Biostimulants seem to have taken a key role in these changes in agricultural practice, increasing plant resistance to abiotic stress in adverse growing conditions.
Today, Europe is the largest region for the sale of biostimulants with annual revenues of more than 1 billion US dollars. This represents more than a third of the value of the global market. This is followed by the regions of North America and the Asia-Pacific zone, each of which occupies more than 20% of the market. It is predicted that this relative rating will not change between now and 2025. But it’s already obvious that Latin America will grow much faster in this regard than other regions, and, according to forecasts, will quickly close the existing sales gap with its rivals. By 2025, biostimulator sales are likely to exceed $ 1 billion in all four regions.
The use of biostimulants is considered to be more balanced between row crops and vegetables, as well as fruits. Row crops have already shown the fastest growth in their use, especially in the field of seed treatment. According to forecasts, by 2025, sales of biostimulants for both row crops and horticultural crops will exceed $ 2 billion in each of these sectors.
Natural resource for protection
Modern agricultural production uses plant protection products against diseases, insects and various environmental influences. Most of them are of artificial origin and are not destroyed by the enzymatic systems of plants or other physical and chemical influences. This leads to their accumulation in the harvest, and therefore in the body of people and animals. Understanding this mechanism has intensified the search for drugs that allow you to get clean and absolutely safe food.
Biochemical studies show that plants independently synthesize their own protective substances in response to adverse environmental conditions. But the speed of their production and the number may be insufficient. Therefore, the isolation of such substances from natural raw materials and their processing of plants can serve to increase sustainability and increase crop yields. Since the creation of the first biostimulants, according to biochemists, a new era has begun in agriculture.
Biostimulants - a new product, therefore, is not yet sufficiently “inscribed” in the existing system of plant protection products. The first thing that experts note is that it is important to distinguish biostimulants from mineral-micronutrient fertilizers like “NPK + microelements”. Fertilizers with trace elements act on plants indirectly, supplying them with the basic nutrients and trace elements necessary for the synthesis of amino acids. And the components of biostimulants have a direct effect on plants. That is, the plant receives ready-made amino acids, including essential amino acids, without spending additional energy on synthesis. At the same time, amino acids and other biologically active substances of plant origin are completely absorbed by plants, actively influence their metabolism, and create a reserve for building proteins and enzyme systems.
Organic biostimulants of plant origin are safe for plants, i.e., in case of overdose, the effects of high temperatures do not cause burns and do not have a negative effect. The use of biostimulants in combination with water-soluble mineral fertilizers and microfertilizers is becoming one of the most effective methods for regulating the nutritional regime of agricultural plants.
Draw a border
Like any new product, biostimulators must be “incorporated” into the legal system and regulatory practice. BPIA member companies, along with other companies in the biostimulator industry, have approached the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for guidance on how to distinguish between biostimulants and plant growth regulators. In November 2018, the EPA prepared and sent to US government agencies a draft document entitled “Guidelines for Biostimulating Plant Medicines: Labeling Requirements Regulated According to FIFRA.”
The association also collaborates with the US Congress in an effort to legitimize biostimulants as a unique category of agricultural resources. So far, such products are defined as "substances or microorganisms that, when applied to seeds and plants, stimulate the natural processes of assimilation of nutrients." Equally, these drugs "contribute to resistance to abiotic stress and improve the quality and yield of crops." BPIA also attracted great interest from potential consumers of biostimulants by contacting the USDA to authorize research to identify effective means of regulating the market of biostimulants. The results of these initiatives have already begun to be taken into account when developing amendments to farm legislation.
The range of organic biostimulants is constantly growing. These are concentrated water-soluble organic preparations for treating seeds, root and leaf dressings of crops, containing biologically active substances: amino acids, humic and fulvic acids, vitamins, phytohormones, peptides, proteins, enzymes, polysaccharides and other active compounds, including microelements.
Russian experts of the Bioindustry and Bioresources Technology Platform (BioTech-2030) also believe that one of the main problems in the development of the global biostimulant industry is the uncertain regulatory environment in some geographical regions. But it does not seem complicated, and will be resolved in the near future.
Biostimulants and pesticides
The practice of using biostimulants has shown that the combined use in a tank mixture with pesticides is not so straightforward. A biostimulant can improve the effect of the pesticide by retaining the active ingredient on the leaf surface by the formation of polysaccharide microcolloids or an ionic charge. In addition, many humic acid products can improve the absorption of active ingredients and trace elements.
But biostimulants do not always improve the effect of pesticides, sometimes they may not even have a significant effect or even reduce the effectiveness of pesticides. Potential negative effects are associated with precipitation of the pesticidal active ingredient from solution or antagonistic action. Another potential negative interaction is the antioxidant effect on the leaf surface during the period of penetration of pathogens, when the plant produces reactive oxygen species to fight off the attack. However, experts classify these negative effects as potential and recommend, for complete confidence, to make the drugs separately in order to completely eliminate any negative effects.
The real effect of the use of biostimulants significantly exceeds the potential negative consequences. Thus, tests carried out in 2014-2015 in Russian agricultural enterprises showed that the yield on experimental plots of spring wheat treated with growth stimulants exceeded the control plot without treatment by 25%. The use of biostimulants in the cultivation of cotton provided an almost 2-fold increase in the total leaf surface (by 94,3%). On the treated plants, no symptoms of any fungal or bacterial diseases, as well as the development of field populations of insect pests, were found. Laboratory and industrial use of a growth stimulator showed an increase in yield on cereals, legumes and vegetables from 13 to 30%.
The positive practical results of using crop growth biostimulants are the main argument accepted by farmers and farmers around the world.
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