What are inputs?

Inputs in agriculture refer to the different products brought to the land and to crops to improve their yield. Naturally absent from the soil, coming neither from the farm nor from the surroundings, they are concretely translated into fertilisers or soil improvers, products for the eradication of parasites (pesticides and the notorious phytosanitary products), but also into growth activators and retarders, seeds, and plants.

Agricultural inputs first appeared between the two World Wars and developed with the Green Revolution (1960 to 1990), introducing a logic of industrialisation. It was not until the Grenelle Environment Project (2007) that their use was pointed out: the use of plant protection products should be reduced by half within 10 years. The aim was to promote integrated and organic farming that was more respectful of the environment.

What are biostimulants?

As the name suggests, biostimulants are substances that aim to stimulate the nutritional process of plants, to promote their growth. To do this, they can:

Improve the efficiency of their nutrient use, i.e. act on their tolerance to abiotic stress (extreme environmental changes) Provide qualitative characteristics Make available nutrients that are confined to the soil

For example, an agricultural biostimulant can be used to biostimulate soils, such as vermicompost extracts, to activate the antioxidant enzyme function and increase the enzymes responsible for scavenging RODs (Reactive Oxygen Derivatives) which cause stress to the plant and damage its cellular structures. Another example is macroscopic algae, which have long been used as a fertilising biostimulant by coastal farmers to improve their soil structure.

How to optimise the switch from inputs to biostimulants?

As part of the France 2030 plan, France is providing financial assistance to farmers to make the switch, in particular through the Ecophyto II+ plan, the first objective of which is to reduce plant protection inputs by 50% by 2025 and to phase out glyphosate by the end of 2022.

At the European level, the Green Deal aims to make Europe a 'climate neutral' continent by 2050. Among its measures appears the reduction of pesticide use by 50% by 2030. To support farmers, the European Commission is planning new CAP rules (compensation for costs for 5 years), enhanced measures to widen the range of organic alternatives and research and development projects in this direction.