International standards for biostimulants


Biostimulants have gained significant attention in the plant business due to their potential to enhance plant growth, yield, and overall health while minimizing the environmental impact. As the demand for sustainable agricultural practices continues to rise, the need for internationally recognized standards for biostimulant products becomes increasingly important. These standards ensure consistency, quality, and safety while fostering global trade and promoting innovation in the biostimulant industry. This article explores the significance of international standards for biostimulants in the plant business and their role in advancing sustainable agriculture.

Plant biostimulants - Determination of dry matter

SIST-TS CEN/TS 17704:2023

International standards for biostimulants provide numerous benefits to the plant business and agricultural sector. Firstly, these standards establish clear definitions and categorizations of biostimulants, enabling stakeholders to differentiate them from other agricultural inputs such as fertilizers or pesticides. This clarity promotes transparency, facilitates product development, and ensures accurate labeling, thus enhancing consumer confidence. One of such standards that helps to reach this level of the quality is SIST-TS CEN/TS 17704:2023. This document specifies the procedure for the determination and calculation of the dry matter fraction of plant biostimulants for which the results of performed analysis are to be calculated to the dry matter basis.

This document is also applicable to the blends of fertilizing products where plant biostimulants are the main part of the blend. Otherwise, the Technical Specification for the main part of the blend apply. Standardization also promotes quality control and safety measures throughout the biostimulant supply chain. By establishing rigorous testing protocols, international standards help identify and minimize the presence of harmful substances, contaminants, or impurities in biostimulant products. This not only protects plant health but also safeguards the environment and human well-being.

Organo-mineral fertilizers - Identification of complexing agents - Part 1: Method using UV-Vis spectrophotometry and gravimetry

SIST-TS CEN/TS 17784-1:2023

International standards support innovation in the biostimulant industry by providing a framework for research, development, and commercialization. By setting criteria for efficacy and performance claims, standards like SIST-TS CEN/TS 17784-1:2023 encourage manufacturers to invest in scientific studies to validate product claims. This fosters an evidence-based approach, ensuring that biostimulant products deliver the promised benefits to farmers and growers. This document specifies two methods required for the identification of lignosulfonate by UV-Vis spectrophotometry (method A) and gravimetry (method B) in organo-mineral fertilizers.

NOTE   Lignosulfonate, as a complexing agent, is a natural polymer produced as a by-product of the sulfite method for manufacturing paper from wood pulp in the paper industry. As a natural polymer, it presents a poorly defined and variable chemical structure. It is an intricate mixture of small- to moderate-sized polymeric compounds with sulfonate groups attached to the molecule, and diverse complexing capacity.

International standards enable better information sharing and exchange between countries. This promotes collaboration, research, and the sharing of best practices, ultimately driving innovation and accelerating the development of sustainable agriculture globally. Through harmonization, stakeholders can benefit from the experiences and expertise of different regions, fostering the growth of a global biostimulant industry.

Soil improvers and growing media - Determination of a quantity

SIST EN 12580:2023

To ensure effectiveness and relevance, standards should reflect scientific advancements, market needs, and evolving environmental concerns. Regular updates and revisions based on scientific research and feedback from industry professionals help maintain their applicability and efficacy. Industry associations and stakeholders should actively participate in the standardization process, providing insights and contributing their expertise to shape robust and comprehensive standards. If we are talking about agricultural industry, standards like SIST EN 12580:2023 should catch your attention. This European Standard specifies methods for the determination of a quantity of soil improvers and growing media in bulk and in packages. This is a reference method, which is designed with an appropriate precision level so that it can be used to validate any quantity declaration made.

This standard is applicable to material that is in solid form, reconstituted if necessary, but not to blocks sold as such by dimension; for these, see EN 15761. This method is not applicable for material with more than 10 % (V/V) of particles greater than 60 mm in size; for these, see EN 15238.

The requirements of this standard may differ from the national legal requirements for the declaration of the products concerned. Where there is no legal requirement to use this method, for example in quantity control of packaged product, then it is permissible for any other methods to be used so long as these other methods can be demonstrated to be comparable with this standard method in giving the same quantity with the same precision.

Material which has become excessively wet and which cannot be easily broken down into a flowable material will not be suitable for the determination of quantity and may not give a representative result. However, because of the diverse nature and bulk density of these materials, it is not possible to quantify what is ‘excessive’. This standard is intended to be used by manufacturers, buyers and enforcement agencies in verifying claims made for these products. It is not intended that it should necessarily be used for the purpose of manufacturing control.

International standards for biostimulants in the plant business are fundamental for promoting sustainable agriculture globally. These standards ensure consistency, quality, and safety, fostering consumer confidence and market access for biostimulant manufacturers. By harmonizing regulations, international standards facilitate global trade and encourage collaboration, driving innovation in the biostimulant industry.

Plant biostimulants - Determination of the yeast and mould content

SIST-TS CEN/TS 17707:2023

International standards for biostimulants in the plant business are crucial for promoting sustainable agriculture, ensuring product quality, and facilitating global trade. Harmonized standards provide clarity, safety, and transparency to stakeholders while fostering innovation and collaboration. However, these standards must be adaptive, addressing emerging trends, incorporating sustainability criteria, and promoting efficacy testing methodologies. One of such examples is SIST-TS CEN/TS 17707:2023.

This document specifies a horizontal method for the enumeration of yeasts and moulds present in plant biostimulant intended for use in agriculture, by means of the colony count technique after aerobic incubation at 25 °C +- 2,5 °C.

This document allows the enumeration of yeasts and moulds, in technical and formulated plant biostimulant, both in liquid and solid state. The method is applicable to microbial plant biostimulant except those composed of fungi or yeast to verify that the concentration of yeast and moulds does not exceed the respective limits described in the EU Fertilizers Regulation [1].

Collaboration between regulatory bodies, industry associations, and research institutions should be encouraged to address these future directions. By fostering open dialogue and knowledge sharing, stakeholders can work together to develop innovative solutions, adapt existing standards, and establish new guidelines to meet the evolving needs of the biostimulant industry.

If necessary, yeast and mould enumerated can be identified using suitable identification tests.

International standards implementation leads to permanent development

The field of biostimulants is continuously evolving, and international standards must adapt to keep pace with emerging trends and technologies. One such trend is the integration of biostimulants with digital agriculture and precision farming techniques. The use of sensors, data analytics, and artificial intelligence can optimize the application of biostimulants, maximizing their effectiveness while minimizing waste. International standards should embrace these advancements, providing guidelines for the integration of biostimulants into smart farming systems. Another important area for future development is the establishment of sustainability criteria within biostimulant standards. As the global focus on sustainability intensifies, there is a growing need to assess the environmental impact of biostimulant production, usage, and disposal. Incorporating sustainability indicators into international standards will encourage the development and adoption of eco-friendly biostimulant solutions, contributing to a more sustainable and resilient agricultural system.