Recent scientific research has elucidated the mode of action of phosphite-based plant biostimulants and shown the value that these products can have for achieving the European Union’s objectives of increasing nutrient use efficiency and climate-smart agriculture. In trials on wheat and oilseed, nitrogen use efficiency improved about 5.5%, yields were higher, and farm income increased 186 euros/hectare and 56 euros/ha respectively. Increased root mass also improved water use efficiency and tolerance of drought stress.
According to European Commission data, there are about 24 million hectares of wheat planted in the European Union and 5.5 mn ha oilseed. If we apply the values obtained by the researchers to that surface area, the potential value for farmers from using phosphite plant biostimulants is an additional 4,464 million euros income for wheat farmers and 308 million euros for oilseed growers.
But there is an obstacle: current wording in the EU's Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR) [Reg. EU 2019/1009] makes it impossible to place phosphite plant biostimulants on the EU Single Market. Today, they are only applied to about 4% of EU arable land, under national rules.
In November 2021, EBIC presented the scientific underpinnings of plant biostimulants containing phosphites to the European Commission’s Expert Group on Fertilising Products, followed by discussion on prospects for these products under the EU’s Fertilising Products Regulation (FPR). The FAQ document linked below responds to questions raised by policymakers on that occasion.
Photo: Courtesy of University of Nottingham