A recent survey carried out by CPM and Interagro has revealed a significant number of growers are seeing crop production benefits by optimising biostimulant and adjuvant products. Charlotte Cunningham reports. 

Interest in the role adjuvants and biostimulants can play in optimising crop production is increasing globally. But how exactly do they work?

Adjuvants offer the potential to increase the performance of crop protection inputs, while biostimulants claim to be able to modify physiological processes in plants to protect against crop stress, as well as boosting the overall health of the crop.

To get a better feel for exactly how such products are being used by farmers, CPM teamed up with adjuvant experts, Interagro, and conducted a survey to hone in on what kind of impact they can have on farm.

Among the results, 15% of farmers revealed that they believe the biostimulants Bridgeway and Zonda can improve plant health. “Best yield results come from starting with early applications that help to build plant health and resilience to stress,” explains Stuart Sutherland, technical manager at Interagro. “Across two years of trials, and 25 comparisons in a range of cereal crops, Bridgeway/Zonda have delivered an average yield benefit of 0.7 t/ha, worth £126/ha (at a grain price of £180 per tonne).”

Stress solution

As well as benefits to overall plant health, biostimulants are also claimed to be particularly effective in stress periods – like drought – largely due to the presence of amino acids.

The survey showed that 18% of farmers believe that Bridgeway and Zonda have benefits in this area, compared to just 4% who said it had no effect. “Amino acids play a pivotal role in plant health. Not only are they critical in signalling a stress response, they are also essential in all biosynthesis pathways and required for healthy growth and development,” adds Stuart.

“Since most crops are often far from achieving their genetic potential, we can be pretty confident that enhancing the efficiency of the crop and removing the deficiency by supplementing it with amino acids during the critical phases of growth, offers the best chance to improve plant health in order to fulfil yield and quality potential.”

Adjuvant advantages

And it’s not just biostimulants grabbing the headlines at the moment.

With chemical efficacy declining rapidly, many growers are in search of a solution to boost performance where possible. When asked whether or not the adjuvant Backrow improves the performance of pre-/peri-emergence herbicides, an impressive 30% of growers noted experiencing the benefits first-hand.

Similarly, a further 27% of growers said the adjuvant, Kantor, helps to optimise fungicide performance.

“Applying adjuvant Backrow with residual herbicides at the pre- and peri-emergence spray timing will improve control by increasing the number of weeds coming into contact with the herbicide at emergence, whilst increased herbicide persistence in the weed rooting zone will control more flushes that may evolve over time and prevent crop damage, leading to a healthier more competitive crop,” according to Stuart.

Replicated field trials over the past nine years have shown that Backrow improves the performance of a whole host of residual herbicides, improving black-grass control by 9% and overall weed control by 13% on average, he adds.

Grower feedback

When asked about their experience with either Backrow, Kantor, Crusade, Bridgeway or Zonda grower feedback included:

“Backrow and Kantor are easy to use and really seemed to help.”

“I used Bridgeway last year on spring barley that was struggling with the dry weather, and also wheat which was compacted. It definitely improved yield.”

“Backrow is a really good product to use. Easy to clean out cans and it does improve the herbicide uptake.”

“Used Bridgeway last year at T2 on spring barley. It was a noticeably stronger crop, and didn’t suffer as much through the drought compared with the rest of the spring barley.”

“Backrow appears to help reduce the drift in our pre-em sprays as well as helping the efficacy of them.”

Winner announcement 

Congratulations to Toby Hogsbjerg from Castle Acre, Norfolk who has been randomly drawn as the winner of the CPM/Interagro survey.

Toby will have the choice of one of three fabulous prizes, a pair of Le Chameau wellies; a North Face jacket; or a Fortnum & Mason wine hamper.

The purpose of the survey was to delve deeper into growers experience of adjuvants and/or biostimulant products. To take part in the next survey, make sure we have your correct details by emailing angus@cpm-magazine.co.uk