With increased scrutiny on the use of chemicals within agriculture, one Lincolnshire farmer is urging growers to consider a seaweed-based biostimulant as a way of increasing yields and reducing stress in the crop.
Marcus Palmer owns Rose Villa Farm in Spalding, growing potatoes, sugar beat cereals and peas.
Since 2005, Marcus has been the sole UK importer and distributor of Algifol, a completely natural biostimulant. Algifol is a concentrated brown algae, gathered from the North Atlantic, dried and refined to maximise its wealth of trace elements, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, carbohydrates, polyuronides and growth-regulating plant hormones.
“I have been promoting the use of natural products as a way of improving crop yield for more than 16 years, but it is only in the last few years that people have really taken notice,” says Marcus.
“The government has really put the spotlight on removing potentially hazardous chemicals from the watercourse in recent years, and these days you can’t open a magazine without reading about the latest consultation.
“I came across Algifol in 2005 and as many of the large chemical companies were promoting the benefits biostimulants, I was curious about whether or not a product derived from seaweed could help potatoes. I was open-minded, and when I heard that seaweed is the fastest growing plant on the planet, I thought it might be worth investigating further. In that first year we saw our yields and quality improve compared to our control area. The rest as they say is history, we have seen improvements in all crops since then.”
As well as increasing yields, Algifol can help lower the carbon footprint of the crop by improving fertilser uptake through better rooting and improved photosynthesis, which reduces leaching and losses to the atmosphere.
Marcus was so impressed with the effects of Algifol on his crop that he approached the manufacturers – NeoMed-Pharma of Germany – to see if he could sell it to other growers in south Lincolnshire.
“The farmers who have used Algifol are generally really happy with the effects. It is completely natural, improves yields, reduces stress caused by droughts, heat and heavy rainfall, and is incredibly cost-effective with just one litre being enough to spray one hectare.”
Applied by knapsack, trailed or mounted sprayers or planes, Algifol is used worldwide on a diverse range of crops, including bananas, grapes, tea, potatoes and cereals. In the UK, the majority of Marcus’ customers are growing potatoes, oilseed rape and sugar beet, with the manufacturer NeoMed-Pharma recommending four applications of one litre of Algifol diluted at a ratio of up to 1:1,000.