The Use of Biostimulants for Enhancing Nutrient Uptake

Moshe Halpern, Asher Bar-Tal, Maya Ofek, Dror Minz, Torsten Muller, Uri Yermiyahu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

309 Scopus citations


Fertilizer use in modern agriculture is highly inefficient; much of the applied fertilizer is released into the environment, causing environmental degradation. One way in which fertilizer use can be reduced without damaging plant nutrition is to enhance crop uptake of nutrients through the use of biostimulants. A broad definition of plant biostimulants, including substances sometimes categorized as biofertilizers or biopesticides, is used throughout this review: "Plant biostimulants are substances or materials, with the exception of nutrients and pesticides, which, when applied to plants, seeds, or growing substrates in specific formulations, have the capacity to modify physiological processes in plants in a way that provides potential benefits to growth, development, or stress response." This definition includes a variety of substances, four of which will be reviewed in this article: seaweed extract, humic substances, amino acids, and plant-growth-promoting bacteria. We will concentrate on the positive effects of biostimulant application on plant nutrient uptake, and the underlying mechanisms, which include positive changes in soil structure or nutrient solubility, root morphology, plant physiology, and symbiotic relationships, will be discussed. Recommendations for future research directions include finding the most promising substances, isolating the active ingredients and clearly demonstrating the mechanisms by which they affect nutrient uptake. The beneficial effects and mechanisms must be consistently demonstrated in greenhouse and field experiments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-174
Number of pages34
JournalAdvances in Agronomy
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Amino acid
  • Biostimulant
  • Humic substance
  • Plant-growth-promoting bacterium
  • Protein hydrolysate
  • Seaweed extract

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science


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