For millennia people have used seaweed as a nutrient for animal and soil health. In soil and plant applications, seaweed extracts act as biostimulants mainly due to the presence of plant hormones.
Significant amount research shows that seaweed in plant cultivation exhibits positive effect on plants. Algae extracts improve plant resistance to frost and drought and increase crop yields.
Plants sprayed with the use of seaweed extracts are also characterized by higher resistance to pests and pathogens and more efficient consumption of nutrients from soil.
Seaweed extracts contribute to the recovery from damage caused by insects and bacterial or fungal diseases.
Formulations basing on algal extracts are rich in phytohormones (Gibberelins, Auxins, Cytokinins), amino acids and fatty acids which are responsible for plant growth, development and resistance to pathogens.
Biostimulant activity of extracts obtained from marine algae is connected with the presence of plant growth regulators, particularly cytokinins mainly responsible for plant aging delay, mitosis induction, stimulation of chloroplast maturation, growth of shoot and lateral buds.
The amount of cytokinins changes and their ratio to other plant growth hormones depends on the species of algae resulting in different effects of seaweed extracts on plant cultivation. Seaweed extracts can be delivered to plants in many ways.
Soaking of seeds in algal extracts is one of the methods. This way of treatment can affect seeds germination.
Foliar and classical soil application can be used as well.
In addition to application methods, also the concentration of seaweed extract, species of algae, plant variety affects the efficiency of seaweed extracts as plant biostimulants. Algae extracts are known chelators of minerals helping to transport nutrients into the plant and making fertilizers more bioavailable. This allows for reduction in fertilizer use thus saving money.
Main phytohormones identified in seaweed extracts are: Auxins, Cytokinins, Gibberelins, Abscisic acid and Ethylene.
Auxins are responsible for elongational growth of plant tissues and apical dominance, cell division, plant movements and plant aging.
Cytokinins are involved in cell division regulation affecting plant growth and rest period. Moreover, they inhibit aging of plant tissues and play crucial role in transport of nutrients.
Gibberellins regulate initiation of seed germination, growth regulation, braking bud dormancy, florescence and fruits development.
Ethylene is responsible for response to stress factors, inhibition of cell growth, acceleration of plant aging.
Abscisic acid participates in regulation of seed germination.
In addition to hormones, seaweed extract are a store of trace minerals and nutrients found in the sea but which are missing in our agricultural soils. Seaweeds are selective in which nutrients they uptake, for example although they are surrounded by salt they are low sodium while at the same time they selectively uptake and concentrate Potassium out of the water.
A partial list of nutrients found in seaweed are Iodine, Selenium, Boron, Magnesium, Manganese, and Copper. Overall there are about 71 different nutrients in seaweed.
Seaweeds most widely used in agriculture due to their good biostimulant activity are brown algae family of seaweeds such as Ascophyllum Nodosum, Ecklonia Maxima, Saragassum and Undaria Pinnatifida.
We at Waikaitu use exclusively Undaria Pinnatifida which is rare in the fertilizer industry. Considered too valuable to use as fertilizer it is normally used in food and as feedstock for pharmaceuticals. However, because it is a pest species in New Zealand we have surplus of this algae and are able to use it for fertilizer economically as a by product of our food and pharmaceutical operations.
The best way to maximize the effects of NZBioActive is to apply the extracts often and in small quantities. This approach ensures that the plants and where possible the soil fill with the beneficial composites of our seaweed extracts. Application in this way guarantees that a protective shield is maintained around the roots of the plant that stimulates the natural resistance mechanisms of the plant itself making it healthier and more productive.
Scientific research has shown that plants treated regularly with seaweed extracts develop deeper roots. These roots support vibrant plant health and faster growth.
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