Plant Biostimulants: A Categorical Review, Their Implications for Row Crop Production, and Relation to Soil Health Indicators

Connor N. Sible, Juliann R. Seebauer, Frederick E. Below

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Plant biostimulants are specialty products used to increase crop production and are quickly becoming common in the agricultural seed and chemical marketplace. Unlike traditional crop inputs, such as fertilizers or pesticides, biostimulants are unique in that a single product may have multiple avenues for influencing crop growth and development based on both the timing and the placement of application. This review presents a summary of the current status and descriptions of plant biostimulants with available literature on their uses in the row crop production of maize (Zea mays L.), soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.), wheat (Triticum aestivum), and other major crop species. Biostimulants have much potential to improve crop production through enhanced yields, grain quality, and increased sustainability of agronomic production systems, particularly in relation to nutrient management. However, there is great variability in the efficacy of biostimulants and a limited understanding of the mechanisms responsible in field-tested scenarios where differences are observed. These unknown mechanisms may align with the recognized soil health indicators, providing opportunities for unrealized biostimulant potential beyond crop growth and development. This review aims to identify the predominant types of crop biostimulants, the known understandings of their modes of action, and examples of their current field efficacy with an outlook for their future.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1297
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • biostimulants
  • soil health
  • AMF
  • PSB
  • BNF
  • humic acids
  • seaweed extracts
  • biologicals
  • Biostimulants
  • Seaweed extracts
  • Soil health
  • Humic acids
  • Biologicals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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