Is Drought Harming Your Crops? Boost Water Use Efficiency with Acadian Plant Health™ Products
How efficiently are crops using the water they receive? Growers want to know. Though plants are often tougher and more drought-resistant than we imagine, there are limits to their resilience. More frequent and longer periods of drought worldwide are placing an extra strain on plants’ ability to function at optimal levels, cutting into their performance and growers’ profits.
Crops can weather these extremes better when supported with the right blend of bioactive compounds. Here’s how Acadian seaweed extracts can improve the water use efficiency of various crops, helping them maintain production levels despite drought-related stress.
Better Rooting for Better Water Uptake
Under optimal conditions, roots uptake water from the surrounding soil, which then transports essential organic and inorganic molecules to cells throughout the plant structure. Over 95% of the water that plants absorb eventually evaporates, passing back into the atmosphere through a process called transpiration, and thus maintaining a steady flow of water and nutrients.
During periods of drought, stomata on the leaves close in order to decrease transpiration-related water loss, but this also decreases the flow of nutrients and CO2 that plants need for growth. This effect slows overall plant development and especially root growth, hindering the plants’ ability to seek out new water supplies.
Applying Acadian seaweed extracts early in the season will improve root growth, giving plants a better ability to scavenge for water should drought happen later in the season. With larger root systems, plants increase their chances of finding sources of water, sustaining them until drought conditions cease.
Improved Water Use Efficiency
In addition to growing larger root systems, which enables them to access more water, plants treated with Acadian seaweed extracts exhibit improved water use efficiency. They grow more mass per unit of water applied. A University of Florida study looked at container-grown citrus trees and those treated with an APH™ product showed better water use efficiency than the Control group (standard grower practices). This can help the trees overcome periods of drought and eventually leads to higher yields of marketable fruit.
Source: Spann, Timothy & Little, Holly. (2011). Applications of a Commercial Extract of the Brown Seaweed Ascophyllum nodosum Increases Drought Tolerance in Container-grown ‘Hamlin’ Sweet Orange Nursery Trees. HortScience. 46. 577-582. 10.21273/HORTSCI.46.4.577.
When plants are dealing with drought stress, they enter self-preservation mode. Transpiration is reduced and water that would be allocated to extremities such as leaves and vegetative shoots is conserved within the stem. Though this behavior improves the odds of survival during drought, it’s not conducive to strong production or crop quality.
Acadian seaweed extracts have a priming effect on plants, preparing them to use water efficiently. A study of soybeans conducted in our R&D Center in Nova Scotia demonstrated that treated plants wilted significantly slower during imposed drought stress. After 21 hours, the Control plants were almost completely wilted, while the treated plants remained upright and growing.
Faster Recovery After Drought
Extreme weather events such as droughts have become more frequent. Growers need to adapt to these increasingly challenging growing conditions. The key is to prepare crops for the challenges of abiotic stress. As mentioned earlier, plants treated with APH™ seaweed extracts access water more easily thanks to larger root systems, use water more efficiently and wilt slower when subjected to drought. But most importantly, they recover more quickly after drought, which makes them able to continue growing and producing crops sooner than untreated grower controls.
These pictures were taken during a study on tomato plants subjected to drought, conducted in our R&D Center in Nova Scotia. The treated plants showed less wilting during imposed drought and recovered more fully after irrigation was resumed. You can watch a time-lapse video from this study on our YouTube channel.
With the right crop inputs, crops can overcome drought stress. We have hundreds of trials on crops worldwide. Request your local trial information now!