A PAIR of new biostimulant seed treatments could help growers increase cereal yields through better rooting.

“Getting cereal crops off to the best possible start is a key first step in setting yield potential,” says Claire Matthewman, campaign manager for JumpStart WT and ProStablish WT seed treatments from Bayer. “Single purpose seed treatments, such as Redigo Pro, are an essential protection against damaging soil and seed-borne diseases, such as loose smut, bunt and leaf stripe."

Bayer, through its collaboration with Novozymes, an established biological specialist, had also been researching ways of helping crops establish a more effective rooting system using biostimulant seed treatments, she added.

One key element is improving phosphate availability. Phosphate can becomes ‘bound-up’ by other elements in the soil, such as calcium, iron, manganese or aluminium. “This means that, in some situations, up to 90% of phosphate fertiliser can be unavailable to crops in the year it is applied,” said Mrs Matthewman.

The active ingredient of JumpStart WT, is a naturally occurring soil fungus, penicillium bilaiae, which produces organic compounds that break the bonds between phosphates and other elements, so phosphate is taken up.

“Effectively we are jump starting the crop by helping to make phosphate more available,” Mrs Matthewman explained. “But at the same time, we also need to address the fact that phosphate doesn’t move in the soil, so roots are only able to take up phosphate in the immediate root zone.”

That’s where the second biostimulant product, ProStablish WT comes in, which is co-applied with JumpStart and a single purpose seed treatment. “ProStablish WT is a ‘messenger’ or signal compound, which stimulates mycorrhizae fungi to germinate and colonise roots,” she said.

Inside the roots, this forms structures that help transfer nutrients, including phosphate, to the plant, while outside of the root they encourage the formation of networks of hyphae that increase the effective root area allowing plants to take up nutrients from outside the root’s physical range.

Cross-Europen trials have shown a 3% yield improvement from using this co-application with a single-purpose seed treatment (SPD) over the SPD alone, said Mrs Matthewman. Both are available this autumn through Frontier.