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Kelp for Corn? Illinois Scientists Demystify Natural Products for Crops

Kelp for Corn? Illinois Scientists Demystify Natural Products for Crops. kelp; courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Corn growers can choose from a wide array of products to make the most of their crop, but the latest could bring seaweed extract to a field near you. The marine product is just one class in a growing market of crop biostimulants marketed for corn.

Biostimulants benefit crops and soil, but there’s huge confusion over what these products do, and when and how they should be used. To quell the confusion, University of Illinois researcher Fred Below, along with doctoral student Connor Sible and research specialist Juliann Seebauer, categorized available biostimulant products into eight classes based on their modes of action. Their review includes summaries of product composition, mechanisms, efficacy, and application considerations.

Generally, plant biostimulants enhance natural processes in plants or soil that, in turn, boost crop quality and yield through enhanced nutrient uptake, nutrient efficiency, or stress tolerance. “We’re actively researching these products to help growers understand what they are and how they work, so they can select the right one for their production system,” said Sible. Partial funding for this work was provided by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. For more information, read this University of Illinois ACES news article.

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