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Foliar application of microbial and plant based biostimulants increases growth and potassium uptake in almond (Prunus dulcis [Mill.] D. A. Webb)


The use of biostimulants has become a common practice in agriculture. However, there is little peer-reviewed research on this topic. In this study we tested, under controlled and replicated conditions, the effect of one biostimulant derived from seaweed extraction (Bio-1) and another biostimulant derived from microbial fermentation (Bio-2). This experiment utilized 2-years-old almond plants over two growing seasons in a randomized complete design with a full 2 × 4 factorial structure with two soil potassium treatments (125 μg g(-1) of K vs. 5 μg g(-1)) and four foliar treatments (No spray, Foliar-K, Bio-1, Bio-2). Rubidium was utilized as a surrogate for short-term potassium uptake and plant growth, nutrient concentration, and final plant biomass were evaluated. There was a substantial positive effect of both biostimulant treatments on total shoot leaf area, and significant increases in shoot length and biomass under adequate soil potassium supply with a positive effect of Bio-1 only under low K supply. Rubidium uptake was increased by Bio-1 application an effect that was greater under the low soil K treatment. Though significant beneficial effects of the biostimulants used on plant growth were observed, it is not possible to determine the mode of action of these materials. The results presented here illustrate the promise and complexity of research involving biostimulants.

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