1. Overview

Speciality fertilisers are applied to soil, seed and plants to improve the crop’s physiological processes – its growth, blooming and maturity period.

Included in this category are inoculants, applied to the seed before planting time. Speciality fertilisers can be applied along with irrigation water, or in a controlled-release way where a pre-plant application releases nutrients for the plant throughout the time when it is growing. Speciality fertilisers might also be applied by foliar feeding where the plant absorbs nutrients through its leaves rather than through the roots. Speciality fertilisers are not only chemicals but can be plant hormones, growth stimulants or biostimulants. Seaweed extracts are included in this category.

Owing to some promising results, this is an area that has caught the attention of role players from all corners of the market, from the agrochemical to the organic/sustainable agriculture sectors. 

Seed treatment

Many of the role players in this chapter supply seed treatments.

A seed treatment or seed dressing is a chemical, typically antimicrobial or fungidal, with which seeds are treated (or “dressed”) prior to planting. Less frequently insecticides are added.Seed treatments can be an environmentally more friendly way of using pesticides as the amounts used can be very small. It is usual to add colour to make treated seed less attractive to birds if spilt and easier to see and clean up in the case of an accidental spillage.

Seed coating is a thicker form of covering of seed and may contain fertiliser, growth promoters and or seed treatment as well as an inert carrier and a polymer outer shell.

Source: excerpts from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seed_treatment  


Bionutrition strategies and biopesticides carry the double benefit of reducing input costs for farmers and preventing nitrate and phosphate accumulation within soils and run-off into sensitive watercourses.
See Biotechnologies for Agricultural Development (FAO, 2011), p 23. 


2. Role players


3. Websites & publications

Visit the websites listed earlier in this chapter.

Find the reports by Markets And Markets at www.marketsandmarkets.com. These include:

  • Biostimulants Market by Active Ingredient (Acid-Based & Extract Based), by Application Type (Foliar, Soil, & Seed), by Crop Type (Row Crops, Fruits & Vegetables, and Turf & Ornamentals) & by Region - Global Trends & Forecasts to 2019
  • Biofertilizers Market by Type (Nitrogen-fixing, Phosphate-solubilizing & Potash- mobilizing), Microorganisms (Rhizobium, Azotobacter, Azospirillum, Cyanobacteria & Phosphate-Solubilizing Bacteria), Application, Crop Type & by Region - Global Forecast to 2020
  • Water-soluble Fertilizers Market by Type (Nitrogenous, Phosphatic, Potassic, and Micronutrients), by Application (Fertigation and Foliar Application), by Crop Type (Field, Horticultural, and Turf & Ornamentals) & by Region - Global Trends and Forecast to 2020

Find the presentations given at the FERTASA Biofertilizer Workshop (November 2017) under "Events" at www.fertasa.co.za. These include "Registration of Biological Remedies vs. Bio-Fertilizers in South Africa" by Thilivhali Nepfumbada (DAFF) and "Biofertilizers, Biostimulants, Biopesticides: Definitions, Differences & Challenges" by Stephanie Roberts (Omnia). The bioproducts market, currently worth US$3 Billion, is predicted to reach US$11 Billion by 2025.

Read the blog “Speciality fertilisers: Soygro before parliamentary committee” on www.agrihandbook.co.za in which the Soygro director argues for a different category for biological products (they are not chemicals!)