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Barbara Novak



By Biostimulants, FERTILIZER PRODUCTS One Comment

Barabara Novak is an agronomic engineer and consultant who participated in the European Biostimulant Industry Council (EBIC) that interfaced with the European Commission (EC) with the aim to promote the development of suitable regulatory frameworks for biostimulants and specialty fertilizers. Novak presented a paper at the FERTASA Biofertilizer Workshop held in November 2017 on the European perspective of the development of the biostimulant / biofertilizer concept and definition and its implications for product placement in EU regulatory frameworks. The use of biological products in agriculture and crop chemistry has gained considerable attention in the last ten years, and is now no longer considered as a “fad” of “fly by night” product segment and has evolved into a structural component of the crop chemicals market. They are considered as one of the most attractive investment segments in the crop chemicals industry with forecasted double digit growth for the next ten years. Novak explained that the group of biological plant nutrition products that are referred to as biofertilizers in South Africa  are referred to as biostimulants, metabolic enhancers, phytostimulators, plant elicitors, biogenic stimulators amongst other terms in other countries. The term biofertilizers used in South Africa refers to a specific group of products that are termed as biostimulants in Europe –  biofertilizers are referred to as biostimulants for the remainder of this article. The wide range of terminology and definitions used to describe these products is considered as one of the key barriers for growth of this segment of the industry and has created confusion in the market with negative implications for market development such as a lack of market information and product registries which influences  industry validation which in turn is influences end-user acceptance and creates mistrust.  Novak stressed that possibly the most important outcome is that a science based and industry accepted definition is a prerequisite for the development of a regulatory framework that can distinguish these products from existing legislative product categories. The Development of the European Biostimulant Definition Currently these is no regulatory or legally-accepted definition of biostimulants anywhere in the world including the European Union (EU). Literature reviews indicate that the term was first used in 1997 in a web journal for turf professionals where biostimulants were defined as “materials that in minute quantities promote plant growth”. The use of the words “minute quantities” distinguish biostimulants from fertilizers which also promote plant growth but in much larger quantities. In 2007 the term was first defined in scientific literature as “materials other than fertilizers, that promote plant growth”. The addition of the phrase “other than fertilizer” is significant as an early attempt to explicitly distinguish this class of compounds from traditional fertilizer products. In subsequent years the term has been used to define an even wider range of compounds and has been used as a versatile descriptor of virtually any substance beneficial to plants without being a fertilizer, Plant Protection Product (PPP) or soil improver. Clearly there was a necessity clarify the status of biostimulant products not just…

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