Researching the role of seaweed in regenerative agriculture


A new research study aims to explore the role of seaweed-based bio-stimulants on soil health and plant performance.

The three-year study will test the potential impact of seaweed-based bio-stimulants on cereal crops and assess their ability to help the plants adapt to abiotic stress conditions while maintaining the yield

Purina, part of the Nestle organisation, has brought together experts in seaweed bio-stimulants, plant health and soil science to launch a three-year academic study on the possible role of seaweed-based bio-stimulants in regenerative agriculture.

The study, which will take place at the Wageningen Plant Science Institute in the Netherlands, will evaluate the potential impact of seaweed-based bio-stimulants on plant performance and nutrition, as well as crop safety and quality.

The study will be supported by on-farm field trials aiming to investigate how seaweed extracts applied to crops might improve soil health and plant responses to abiotic stresses (e.g. drought conditions) and evaluate the potential to reduce the amount of synthetic fertiliser while maintaining yield.

In many regions of the world, food production relies on synthetic fertilisers – overuse of which can negatively impact soil health, biodiversity, water and air, as well as the climate. To address these challenges and, as part of Nestlé’s pledge to source 50% of its key ingredients from regenerative agriculture by 2030, Purina is exploring novel agricultural approaches.

“We must explore innovative solutions if we are to make progress against our climate goals,” said Sheri Smithey, head of product and technology development at Purina. “We are proud to be working with partners in researching the potential of seaweed-based bio-stimulants to help farmers and our supply chains adopt more regenerative agricultural practices.”

Seaweed brings the additional benefit of absorbing some of the carbon and excess nutrients flowing into the ocean, reducing the risk of ocean acidification, whilst promoting marine biodiversity.

Sponsored by Purina, the study brings together an expert consortium led by Fera Science Wageningen University & Research, Plant Science group and the Kelp Forest Foundation will lead on the research side, with Agricarbon UK and NatureMetrics supporting field trials with soil carbon analysis and eDNA soil biodiversity testing. Two seaweed companies will provide the seaweed-based bio-stimulants.

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