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Seaweed as fertilizer for an improved plant resistance

Seaweed as fertilizer
Written by Maarten Casteleijn | Last update: 04-06-2020

Seaweed or algae: they are familiar from our visits to the beach. Did you know seaweed contains loads of minerals and hormones? And that it is usable for the soil life? In the horticultural sector, seaweed is often used as a fertilizer to improve the plant resistance.  

What is seewead?

Seaweed is a collective term for different types of algae and plants, that can be found in the sea. They can be recognized by the brown, green and sometimes red color. The use of seaweed as a fertilizer in horticulture, is not new. It has been used for decades. While in the early days, seaweed was collected from the coast, there is a wide range of products available that contain seaweed.  

Better plant resistance and soil fertility

The plant resistance can be improved by making use of seaweed. This, because essential minerals and trace elements such as phosphorus, calcium, zinc, sodium, iron, magnesium and sulphur are involved. Besides, the common seaweed ascophyllum nodosum, contains glycine betaine. It was proven that glycine betaine augments the plant resistance, especially in times of abiotic stress such as drought stress or high concentrations of sodium. Because our summers keep getting dryer, seaweed could be a solution. Moreover, a lower chance at mould around the plant’s roots could be a result of a ‘dryer’ way of cultivation.

However, this is not the complete reason for the success of seaweed. Natural elements for growth, vitamins, amino acids and enzymes can be found in seaweed. All of these elements are used by the plant to strengthen its resilience. As a possible result, the production of larger fruits or buds. Because seaweed contains different trace elements, the fertility of the soil is improved at the same time.

Advantages of seaweed as a fertilizer

Seaweed is not seen as a fertilizer, often leading to the opinion that it does not add anything to the plant’s growth. However, seaweed complies with the theory of the “missing elements” and has several positive effects on both the plant and the soil. 
  • Strengthening of the plant cells
  • Improvement of the soil’s structure and water absorption
  • Optimization of photosynthesis
  • Stimulation for growth of fruits
  • Stimulation for the soil life already present
  • Positive effect in times of drought
  • Rises the pH value of the soil in a short time
  • Decreases chance for deficiencies, because of the improvement of the intake of nutrients (especially iron and manganese)

Application of seaweed

Components that can be used by the soil life (worms, mycorrhiza, etc.) as source of nutrition, can be added to the crop by making use of seaweed. Because of this, many products that contribute to a better soil life, which is also called inoculating, contain seaweed. 

Seaweed can be added through foliar fertilizing, through the solution in the fertilizer tank or it can be added to the planting pot directly. The best way of application, depends on the product. 

At last, always keep in mind organic material, such as seaweed, should not get in contact with disinfectants and the corresponding techniques. This, because it could lower the functioning of the organic products. 

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Questions about seaweed or algae as fertilizer

Do you have questions about seaweed or algae as a fertilizer, or would you like tailor-made advice? Then please contact plant resistance specialist Maarten Casteleijn using the form below. You will receive a response as soon as possible - on weekdays even within 24 hours. 

Maarten CasteleijnOver Maarten Casteleijn

Maarten Casteleijn is productspecialist plantweerbaarheid bij Royal Brinkman. Naast ervaring in de tuinbouw heeft hij ook ervaring in het lesgeven en het coördineren van onderzoeken in de medische sector. Door zijn werkervaringen te combineren kan hij met verschillende blikken naar een probleem kijken en out of the box denken. Zijn passie is, zoals hij zelf zegt en blijkt uit zijn werkervaring: kennis ontvangen en delen. “Ik heb een brede interesse gericht op innovatie en duurzaamheid. Samen met de teler wil ik door de plantweerbaarheid te verhogen een uiteindelijke nullozing bereiken.”

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