THE current dry spell is starting to raise questions over whether a drought may be on the horizon, but optimising biostimulant products can help vegetable growers prepare for potential stress ahead, according to adjuvant and biostimulant experts, Interagro.

It’s not long since the UK was burdened with continued rain and flooding, but a lack of precipitation is causing concern for some in the vegetable sector. “So far, it’s been a fairly normal cropping year, but it will be a big problem if we do get a drought,” said Keith Brand, agronomist at Hutchinsons.

To prepare for what may lie ahead, he recommended biostimulant products to boost crop health – specifically, Interagro’s Bridgeway. “I’ve seen noticeable benefits to vegetable performance as a result of using Bridgeway and with its proven effects in stress situations, it will come into its own if we have a drought.”

Licensed for use on an array of both non-organic and organic vegetable crops, it is an amino acid biostimulant designed to help crops reach genetic yield potential and reduce the impact of stress by improving plant health.

Interagro’s technical manager, Stuart Sutherland, added: “Under ideal conditions, plants synthesise all 18 L-amino acids, using carbon and oxygen in the air, hydrogen from water and nitrogen from the soil. This is what makes soil quality and nutrient density so important to overall plant health.

“Where conditions are poor, these raw materials can leach away in the soil or in dry soils, can become inaccessible to the plant. When crops don’t get what they need from their environment, we believe working with biostimulants is the best way to break the cycle. A biostimulant acts like a supplement until the crop can start production again making them crucial stress-busting tools.”

In demonstration trials carried out in 2018 at the Allium and Brassica Centre, Bridgeway-treated Brussel sprouts produced an extra 11.8t/ha, compared to an untreated plot, he said.

James Rome, an agronomist with East of Scotland Growers, first utilised the product in a field of cauliflower on light land that had become very dry. “While we didn’t measure yield, we did see a significant visual improvement in the cauliflower. It was much greener and definitely less stressed,” he noted.

With clubroot pressure in the area, Bridgeway also proved to be effective in putting life back into struggling crops, he added. “I used it in conjunction with fulvic acid on a field of broccoli that was heavily impacted by clubroot and together, the two products saved the crop.

“Before we applied it, despite it being fairly early in the crop growth stage, the field wasn’t going to make a viable yield. With nothing to lose, we applied a fairly heavy dose of Bridgeway (5 l/ha) and it helped turn the crop into something that was economically viable.”

Though he had mainly used a reactive approach when using it, he had also seen benefits when used as a preventative measure. “As a bit of trial, I tried drenching broccoli modules with Bridgeway, in a broccoli-following-carrots situation. Traditionally, growers treat modules with a general trace element mix, so we applied that to the whole field, except a small 0.5ha trial plot that was treated with Bridgeway.”

Approximately one-litre of Bridgeway across about 25,000 plants produced a noticeable benefit. “These improvements included better establishment and a slightly bigger plant, which ultimately has an impact on yield,” he said, adding that he was trialling the effects of drenching on modules again this year.


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