Seaweed technology could be the answer to boosting crop yields at a time of declining chemical efficacy.

Scientific breakthroughs have revealed many benefits of algae.

The Olmix Group has invested tens of millions of euros into algae research since 2012. The company harvests seaweed from the Breton coast once it has reached the end of its lifecycle – so it is a sustainable product. Given the high tidal reach of the area the seaweed is particularly strong, which is reflected in its biochemical make-up and stress tolerance.

Didier Blin, plant care manager at Olmix said: “When broken down into its components: Carbohydrates, proteins, sulphated polysaccharides and nutrients, the seaweed can then be used to boost crop and soil health.

“Each has a different action on the plant, from growth stimulation to boosting the plant’s natural defence mechanisms against stress.”

Maria Matard-Mann, research projects manager went on to say; "Combined with micronutrients, inorganic acids, or clay, the products can be applied at different growth stages for maximum effect.

"We are using seaweed as a complement to crop and soil health, not the only part of nutrition. That’s what makes the difference – having both a nutritional and biological activity.”

There are more than 9,800 species of seaweed, with a greater genetic diversity than fungi and animals combined. Many elements – such as sulphated polysaccharides – are not present in land plants, which is what makes them so useful.

Maria continued: “As crops don’t recognise marine sulphated polysaccharides they respond with immune aggression, which improves their resistance to stress or disease.”

Algal hormones stimulate root growth and nutrient absorption, while biological activators boost humification in the soil.

“Farmers have to produce more and better with less, to feed the planet in a sustainable way,” says international director Jean-Marie Bocher. “We believe algae can be the answer.”