Biostimulant applications in low input horticultural cultivation systems

Stefania Toscano, Daniela Romano [Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment (Di3A), Università di Catania];
Daniele Massa [CREA Research Centre for Vegetable and Ornamental Crops, Council for Agricultural Research and Economics, Pescia (PT)];
Roberta Bulgari, Giulia Franzoni, Antonio Ferrante [Department of Agricultural and Environmental Science, Università di Milano]

Biostimulants are products obtained from different raw materials that are used in cropping systems to produce in a more environment-friendly and sustainable way. New cultivation systems aim to reduce the inputs without compromising yield or quality of the final products. These aspects are important in conventional but mostly in organic farming, where the use of fertilizers is limited. Biostimulants have been used as plant stimulators of growth under both optimal and stressful conditions. These compounds can modulate crop physiology and biochemistry by improving the nutrient use efficiency and increasing the tolerance against abiotic stresses. In vegetables farms, biostimulants have been used for lowering the nitrate accumulation which afflicts leafy vegetables market. In stressful environments, biostimulants can activate the secondary metabolism, such as phenylpropanoid pathways, and enhance the concentration of several bioactive compounds with potential benefit also for human health. In floriculture, biostimulants have been applied to speed up the growing cycles and enhance the flower production and nutrient use efficiency.

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