Rob Adamson, Technical Specialist; Herbicide and Seed Treatment Lead at UPL UK & IE, will be discussing the options currently available for biostimulant seed treatments, how they work, and the potential on-farm benefits. Meet former agronomist Rob on Wednesday November 27th at the UPL Biosolutions Hub, stand 1.34, as he delivers his presentation alongside Greg Hanna, also from UPL.
Q1: When was your first experience of the world of biosolutions/biostimulants, and what was your opinion of them?
A: I first came across biostimulants as an agronomist before joining UPL’s legacy company, Arysta LifeScience, three years ago. I was advising on a range of things including biostimulants. Although I saw good data, and saw them perform in the field, I was always dubious of these products, as they were often tarred with a ‘snake oil’ brush, and the science and benefits were always quite mysterious.
Q2: How has this opinion changed since?
A: Joining Arysta LifeScience exposed me to the scientific detail behind biostimulants, and although I joined the business slightly sceptical, I saw trials where the products really did perform. Our ethos has always been to view these as active ingredients like traditional plant protection products, and really look at the science behind them. Knowing how they work, allows you to see where they fit in crop production to gain the best agronomic value.
Q3: What do you believe is preventing greater uptake?
A: The snake oil reputation remains an issue for these products. Clarity around what is in biostimulants, and why it is there is really important. In terms of practical application, we have to remember that these aren’t a golden bullet. They are an insurance policy that assists, but they can’t perform miracles. We need to manage expectations with biostimulants, and so that way, we will appreciate what they do provide.
Q4: Where do we need to focus our efforts to encourage greater use?
A: Science! Showing and explaining how the products work is key. That way we can understand why they don’t always work, and also where best to use them. There is still a lot to learn; some of the actives are old. We have been using seaweed in agriculture in many guises for hundreds of years, but have only scratched the surface in terms of understanding why it’s historically been used. Our ancestors were evidently onto something, but now we can refine what they were doing, and begin to unravel the science behind certain properties of plant extracts.
Q6: Where do you think we have been going wrong as in industry?
A: Silly claims of mega yield increases! These products aren’t just about yield. Yes, sometimes you will achieve a yield increase, but that’s because the product has helped to mitigate a yield-limiting factor. Was it drought, was it an extra tiller? That is what we need to know.
Q7: If you were a grower visiting CropTec 2019, what questions would you be asking the Hub?
A: What benefit does the investment in these products bring? Why should I spend the money?