Quantis - Your essential questions answered
Quantis is the exciting new biostimulant from Syngenta for field-scale crop production. With the benefit of in-depth R&D applied by Syngenta scientists and researchers, there is a better understanding of how biostimulants work and the benefits they can deliver in the field.
Syngenta Technical Manager, Dave King, answers questions on the science behind Quantis as an essential new tool for growers and agronomists to manage abiotic heat stress this season
Why is heat stress more of an issue?
Plants are constantly adapting to stress from environmental conditions. However, when stress is extreme, or prolonged, plant stress tolerance mechanisms may no longer be able to cope naturally and suffer potentially significant damage.
Furthermore, with changing climatic conditions, the frequency and severity of stress effects are becoming more severe. Periods of heat and drought are generally becoming longer and more intense, and when conditions change the effect is more sudden and intense.
Climatic conditions are undoubtedly becoming more extreme. The ten hottest years on record in the UK, for example, have all occurred since 2000.
Furthermore, as climatic conditions have changed over recent years, prolonged heat periods are becoming more frequent.
For potatoes, independent research has shown the optimum root growth occurs at soil temperatures of 15 to 20⁰C, with a fall off when temperatures exceed 20⁰C. Hotter soils have also been shown to limit tuber initiation and the numbers of tubers formed.
Has that been seen in field effects?
Last year Syngenta ran the UK’s biggest ever field-scale trial of biostimulant use in potatoes with Quantis in growers’ crops.
In the 30 field trials experiencing temperatures of greater than 25⁰C for more than four hours over the duration of the application programme, yields from the treatment programme were an average 2.2 t/ha greater.
The 14 sites that experienced a heat event in excess of 30⁰C recorded an average 1.9 t/ha yield increase.
It has also been notable that over the years of Quantis trials, the greatest responses in yield and tuber size were repeatedly in seasons and situations with highest temperatures.
What effect does heat stress have in potatoes?
Plant physiological studies indicate that when plants come under stress, cells respond at a molecular level to try and mitigate the effects.
Whenever cell function adapts, it requires energy that may otherwise be utilised for growth and carbohydrate storage – in potato roots and tubers, for example.
The result can be a yield reduction in both the number and size of tubers, along with the consistency of quality.
That’s where the heat stress relief of Quantis is targeted to minimise the damage.
How does Quantis relieve abiotic stress?
The major component of Quantis is organic carbon, which includes sugars and organic acids with anti-oxidant properties.
These anti-oxidant effects are crucial to minimise the toxicity caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS - known as free radicals) in cells in plants under abiotic stress.
A strength of Quantis lies in its relatively high proportion of short chain carbon molecules, which are particularly effective at helping the plant to prevent the creation of ROS during periods of stress.
Organic carbons and amino acids in Quantis will also supply energy and protein building blocks. These are both necessary for active photosynthesis and more efficient nutrient uptake that may be reduced under stressed conditions.
The multi-function approach to stress relief in potato plants gives the potential for higher yield and better tuber size under heat conditions.
What is the osmoprotectant function of Quantis?
As soon as cells are deprived of water, they become less efficient – and further less able to cope with stress effects - typically associated with heat and drought.
The osmoprotectant function of Quantis can strengthen the plasma membrane around the cell to better maintain turgor pressure that holds water in the cell, which enables it to continue to function effectively.
How do you use Quantis in this season’s potato agronomy?
Extensive trials with Quantis have shown best results from three applications at a rate of 2.0 l/ha, at the onset of tuber bulking; a second two weeks later and third at canopy closure.
Highest yield responses from Quantis have been associated with periods of heat stress in potatoes – where there have been days of high temperature and/or periods of hot weather.
Application research has shown it to be physically compatible with blight fungicides in trials and using the same application techniques.
What’s the future role of biostimulants?
Biostimulants are a key element for future sustainable agriculture and food production.
The integration of biostimulants with crop protection will enable growers to effectively and sustainably manage crops, mitigate resistance, enhance soil health and reduce residues in crops, as well as address consumer demands.
The more that is understood about the science behind the biostimulants, the better growers and agronomists can make use of the benefits in different situations.