MADUMBI Sustainable Agriculture:

Leading the way with BIOSTIMULANTS

On a global level, the biostimulant sector is one of the fastest-growing agricultural sectors as growers look for new ways to ‘grow more with less’. The demand for food production is increasing with a growing global population. At the same time, resources in the form of arable land, quality water supply, etc. are limited.

On a local level, the South African authorities have recognised the importance of this sector through the establishment of the group 3 (biostimulant) fertiliser registrations. The requirements of the group 3 registrations are more stringent, costly and time-consuming than conventional synthetic fertilisers. But it will hopefully ensure that products which come to the SA market in this segment in future are adequately backed by science.

Madumbi is currently in the process of moving the necessary V12 products to group 3 registrations. Developments are also in progress to register a new range of straight biostimulants, targeted at different stages of crop growth and development. This range will be marketed under the Madumbi UPP brand, with UPP standing for ‘Unlocking Plant Potential’. The range aims to use specifically targeted biostimulants, many of which act at a genetic or molecular level, to up or down-regulate specific processes or functions in the plant. This unlocks significant potential for growth, yield, quality, stress tolerance etc.

The leading scientist behind the development of the new Madumbi UPP range is Dr Brendon Neumann, Madumbi Business Innovations lead and global Biostimulant Product Manager. Brendon is based in the Western Cape and is a recognised leader in biostimulant and plant health solutions.

We asked Brendon to share some of the critical insights on the value and importance of biostimulants in various growing programs.

1. What are biostimulants?

The European BioStimulants Industry Council (EBIC) defines plant biostimulants as follows:

‘Plant biostimulants contain substance(s) and/or micro-organisms whose function, when applied to plants or the rhizosphere, is to stimulate natural processes to enhance/benefit nutrient uptake, nutrient efficiency, tolerance to abiotic stress, and crop quality.’

2. Why are biostimulants so important?
Biostimulants can assist growers to ‘produce more with less’.
Biostimulants target specific natural growth processes within plants. Increasing or decreasing these specific functions unlocks more significant potential for growth, yield, quality, stress tolerance and more.

3. Why should growers be excited about this new technology?

Plant biostimulants are natural compounds, and at Madumbi, nature forms the foundation of our science: ‘Backed by Science, Loved by Nature’. Biostimulants stimulate natural growth processes. This ‘science’ is relatively new, and as the global knowledge grows with research being shared, we are only just starting to discover, learn and understand the true potential biostimulants may offer.

The EBIC points out that biostimulants foster plant growth and development in several ways, including but not limited to:

– Improving the efficiency of the plant’s metabolism to induce yield increases and enhance crop quality
– Increase plant tolerance to and recovery from abiotic stress
– Facilitating nutrient assimilation, translocation and use
– Enhanced yield quality, including sugar content, colour, fruit seeding etc
– Improved water efficiency
– Increased soil fertility, particularly by the fostering of the development of complementary soil micro-organisms

4. What is the difference between biostimulants and fertilisers?

The core function of fertilisers and foliar feeds is to provide plant nutrition. Biostimulants trigger natural plant processes and as such, influence plant growth through different mechanisms than fertilisers. This is achieved regardless of the presence of nutrients in the biostimulant formulation.

5. Do biostimulants offer protection against pests and diseases?

Biostimulants differ from crop protection products because they act only on the plant’s vigour and do not have any direct actions against pests or disease.

In summary, biostimulants are complementary to crop nutrition and crop protection. At Madumbi, we see great value in the incorporation of biostimulants into grower programs at strategic, targeted times to impact, maximise and enhance plant growth and yield quality.