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Agricultural Biostimulants

Agricultural Biostimulants / Plant Biostimulants

The plant biostimulants market, which is one of the categories within the larger plant biologicals market, is currently valued at $2.5 billion and is expected to grow to over $4 billion globally by 2025.1

Agricultural or plant biostimulants are biological or biologically derived fertilizer additives and similar products that are used in crop production to supplement and enhance existing agricultural practices and crop inputs. They might achieve this by: 

  • Helping to improve nutrient-use efficiency
  • Helping plants tolerate abiotic stresses like heat, cold, drought, and too much water
  • Helping to improve quality attributes like nutritional content, appearance, and shelf-life

The terms "plant biostimulants" and "agricultural biostimulants" encompass a diverse group of product technologies

Broadly speaking, those segments include: 

  • Acids (including organic acids like humic and fulvic acids, as well as amino acids)
  • Extracts (including organic matter extracts like seaweed extracts, plant extracts or botanical oils)
  • Microbials (including soil fungi and bacteria that help to improve nutrient cycling/soil availability, or that aid a plant’s ability to uptake and use nutrients)
  • Other (including biochemical materials, proteins, enzymes, chemical salts, vitamins, elements, and small molecules or metabolites derived from organic sources)
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"Today’s companies are using science and technology to formulate biostimulants that can induce superior plant responses with greater nutrient-use efficiency and sustainability." - John Wolf, Chief Operating Officer, Agricen

Download the Growing for the Future Booklet

Defining Plant Biostimulants in the United States & Europe

United States

Although the plant biostimulants category is rapidly growing, there is no agreed-upon regulatory framework or legal definition for biostimulants in the United States.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has used varying definitions to discuss plant biostimulants. In the 2018 Farm Bill, they define plant biostimulants as:

"A substance or micro-organism that, when applied to seeds, plants, or the rhizosphere, stimulates natural processes to enhance or benefit nutrient uptake, nutrient efficiency, tolerance to abiotic stress, or crop quality and yield."2

In the 2019 USDA Report on Plant Biostimulants, they provide two alternative definitions: 

"A naturally occurring substance, its synthetically derived equivalent, or a microbe that is used for the purpose of stimulating natural processes in plants or in the soil in order to, among other things: improve nutrient and/or water use efficiency by plants, help plants tolerate abiotic stress, or improve characteristics of the soil as a medium for plant growth. The characteristics may be physical, chemical, and/or biological. The plant biostimulant may be used either by itself or in combination with other substances or microbes for this purpose."3

- OR -

"Substance(s), microorganism(s), or mixtures thereof, that, when applied to seeds, plants, the rhizosphere, soil or other growth media, act to support a plant's natural nutrition processes independently of the biostimulant's nutrient content. The plant biostimulant thereby improves nutrient availability, uptake or use efficiency, tolerance to abiotic stress, and consequent growth, development, quality or yield."3

In the United States, the Biostimulants Council has been at the forefront of working to address regulatory and legislative issues involving biological or naturally derived additives for use with crops, including plant biostimulants. 


Europe has been the leader in developing a definition and a regulatory and legislative framework for biostimulants. Plant biostimulants are defined within the EU Fertilizing Products Regulation (FPR) that took effect in July of 2019 as:

"A product stimulating plant nutrition processes independently of the product’s nutrient content with the sole aim of improving one or more of the following characteristics of the plant or the plant rhizosphere:

⋅ Nutrient use efficiency
⋅ Tolerance to abiotic stress
⋅ Quality traits
⋅ Availability of confined nutrients in soil or rhizosphere."

Advancing Biostimulant Technologies for Agriculture

Agricen is working to enhance crop health and nutrition with plant biostimulants derived from naturally occurring, diverse communities of microorganisms and the biochemical byproducts they produce (e.g., organic acids, proteins, enzymes). This proprietary biochemistry is the key functioning component of our commercially available biocatalyst product technologies. It interacts with the plant-soil system to increase the availability and uptake of nutrients that are applied through fertilization or already present in the soil or in crop residues.

Our rigorous scientific research program continues to be focused on developing biostimulant and biological products rooted in biology and biochemistry, with the goal of further improving the performance of plant nutrition programs and providing growers with the tools they need to increase productivity and sustainability. 

Learn more about agricultural biostimulants by downloading Agricen's "Growing for the Future" booklet:

Access the Booklet

1DunhamTrimmer’s Global Biostimulant Report Report, Market Overview, Trends, Drivers and Insight, 2020.

2 Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, Section 10111.

3 USDA Report to President and Congress on Plant Biostimulants, December 2019.