7 ways to enhance your crop with a synthetic seed primer.

Posted in: Plant Enhancement Technology

Growers often ask, “What is the best time to enhance my crop?” From an agronomic standpoint, many will tell you it is the day you put it in the ground.

A variety of factors can make or break a plant’s ability to successfully emerge and overcome environmental stresses. That is why much of the seed used today is pre-treated with coatings and stimulants to give the plant an early advantage.

Basic seed treatments contain insecticides, herbicides and fungicides to guard against pests.

However, more advanced nutrient coatings are incorporating science at a genetic-level – arming the seed to better adapt to stress and shock at the crucial early growth stage.

Essentially, scientists are “upregulating” (or increasing) the desirable genes and “downregulating” (decreasing) those that are less desirable. Targeting genetic processes that stimulate root growth is an example of upregulating.

Products formulated with seaweed and kelp are rich in natural plant hormones. The downside is that such products can be somewhat inconsistent and require higher application rates to achieve the desired results.

Intrinsic™ is an example of a smart, organic bioactive molecule that has been synthetically designed to provide measurable benefits around germination, root growth, seedling vigor, stress resistance and yield.

Ranil Waliwitiya, PhD, is a chemist and plant scientist. He and the team at Active AgriScience Inc. analyzed numerous biostimulants that are found in nature under the microscope. They isolated key molecules known to create positive effects within a plant – and synthetically reproduced them to a very precise degree of consistency. The result is the Intrinsic molecule. The intrinsic molecule is designed to trigger certain enzymes and hormonal pathways to increase (or potentially decrease) different processes within a plant through DNA transcription and translation. This process is essential to the synthesis of proteins in the plant, such as hormones and enzymes.

So, how can one tiny molecule have such a big impact an entire crop? Here are seven ways Intrinsic can benefit a plant as a seed coating, by leveraging what we know about biostimulants.

  1. Enhanced Germination: Cytokinins are a plant hormone that promote cell division in shoots and roots. Intrinsic stimulates the production of a cytokinin called zeatin, to improve the rate and speed of germination.
  1. Stronger Root Growth: Roots can’t push through the ground without assistance. They first need to solubilize the soil to create a zone where the root can extend. Plants do this by releasing indole-3-butyic acid (IBA)… or, as many farmers call it, root snot. Intrinsic significantly increases IBA production, which increases root mass by an equivalent amount.
  1. Increased Performance Under Stress Conditions: Cold, frost and excessive moisture can cause plants to trigger Mother Nature’s self-destruct button – a hormone called ethylene. Ethylene stops growth and photosynthesis and causes the plant to wilt or biodegrade. (It’s what happens when you leave an apple on the counter too long and it starts to shrivel.)

Intrinsic is an activator that prevents ethylene production – tricking the plant to continue growing and photosynthesizing in a situation where it previously would have shut down.

  1. Reduced Transpiration: Intrinsic helps young plants by increasing water pressure in the xylem for positive water potential. It also makes the xylem more elastic and regulates stomatal function to reduce excess water loss.
  1. Increased Water Use Efficiency: Earlier we mentioned ethylene. In drought conditions, ethylene (and other molecules known as free radicals) can destabilize plant membranes, which results in water leakage and wilting. By shutting down production of ethylene and preventing the formation of free radicals, Intrinsic helps the plant efficiently intake and distribute water at this key growth stage.
  1. Increased Nutrient Mobilization and Absorption: In the area surrounding the roots (known as the rhizosphere), root exudates exist to fight off natural enemies competing for nutrients. Another way Intrinsic contributes to plant health at the early stages is by increasing secretion of root exudates. This in turn increases bound nutrient mobilization, availability, and root interception.
  1. Improved efficacy regardless of pH: By emitting a greater volume of root exudates, the plant can absorb more nutrients in both acidic or base soils.

Effect on yield.

While enzymes, hormones and plant regulators work at the molecular level, growers are most concerned about performance at the profit level. Namely, the impact on yield. Extensive yield data has been collected for Active Prime™, a seed coating containing Intrinsic™.

The data reveals a pronounced impact on canola, soybeans and lentils. Wheat and peas also showed favorable improvements.

Crop Canola Soybeans Lentils Wheat Peas
% Increase bu/acre
(vs untreated check)
9.2% 10.2% 12.5% 5.1% 5.3%
Data 2013-2016* 2013-2016* 2016** 2013-2016* 2016**

* 4-years of third party field research with Mara, Sarda, Ag-Quest, ICMS and Newmark Research.

** Third party field research with Ag-Quest.

Technology Past the Point of Nutrition™

While primers are a great strategy for providing a vital early nutrient boost at seeding, Intrinsic™ is an example of a how Plant Enhancement Technology is addressing a wide range of growth factors that can benefit a plant in the short term – and a crop in the long run.

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