Biostimulants could rescue crops from anticipated drought
With dry conditions pointing towards a similar drought as experienced in 2018, Velcourt independent agronomist Kieran Walsh says biostimulants could help keep wheat protein levels up, despite drought stress.
“I started looking at the uses and benefits of amino acids a few years ago, specifically on field-scale plot trials. The trials showed positive results following the application of amino-acid products to milling wheat, in particular increased protein levels compared to the test plots.
The nice thing about seeing these results on a whole field scale is that it gives me a good understanding of how amino-acid biostimulants act on the crops in different soil types.
The increases in protein levels have been noted in a variety of crop situations, including when crops are experiencing drought stress and where growers are using liquid fertiliser – you tend to see much less crop scorch where an amino acid product has been applied.
With these trends in mind, biostimulants may find themselves particularly beneficial if the dry weather we have seen so far this season continues. In terms of crop performance at the moment, wheat is at flag leaf stage and Septoria on leaf four. Leaf three and two are looking clean but on some of the thin limestone soils some wheats have been feeling the dry conditions and some varieties do have some signs of stress-related yellow rust.
In terms of rainfall, April figures were down to just 29.9mm compared to 52.6mm in April 2018. May figures are currently at around 25.2mm, so it’s safe to say that things are starting to look a bit desperate with regards to moisture levels.
Based on what we have seen so far, there is considerable evidence that would suggest biostimulants could play a critical role in minimising the impact of stress exposure should we find ourselves in a drought once again this season.
There is undoubtedly a buzz around biostimulants at the moment, and although we are starting to get lots of solid data coming through, it’s important to continue to really test the products to ensure we have a good understanding of exactly what benefits they can provide to growers.
It seems that there is a lot of interest on farms at the moment and growers are certainly willing to try new products, but it is crucial that every step is measured. From in-depth soil reviews before applications are carried out, sap sampling throughout the season, tissue testing, detailed grain analysis and yield mapping – it will all put growers in the best position to really assess the impact these products are having on crops.Kieran Walsh, Agronomist, Velcourt