Biostimulants from food processing by-products: agronomic, quality and metabolic impacts on organic tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.)

J Sci Food Agric. 2018 Mar;98(4):1426-1436. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.8610. Epub 2017 Sep 25.


Background: Biostimulants have recently gained increased attention due to their multiple benefits for sustainable agriculture. In this study, three food processing by-products - fennel processing residues (FPR), lemon processing residues (LPR) and brewer's spent grain (BSG) - were investigated as potential sources of biostimulants. Their aqueous extracts as individual and associated applications were assessed for their effects on agronomic, quality and metabolic performance of organic tomato in comparison to extract of humic substances (HS) and untreated control (CTRL).

Results: Only FPR extracts stimulated shoot growth and tomato dry matter content, whereas all candidates improved tomato yield. FPR and BSG increased fruit mineral content and BSG-FPR-LPR in combination enhanced titratable acidity. FPR-treated fruits had also 20% more vitamin C than CTRL, and higher phenol content was obtained in those of BSG-LPR. Fruit metabolomic profile showed the tendency of all extracts, except BSG-LPR, to increase tomato citric acid and to decrease β-glucose and methanol concentrations. The analysis revealed accordingly the indispensable role of FPR in combined applications for inducing an HS-like response in fruits.

Conclusion: The results were indicative of the biostimulant activity of these extracts and demonstrated them, particularly FPR, as promising candidates for enhancing plant productivity and fruit quality. © 2017 Society of Chemical Industry.

Keywords: biostimulants; food-processing residues; fruit quality; humic acid; metabolomic profile; tomato.

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture / methods*
  • Ascorbic Acid / analysis
  • Citrus / chemistry
  • Foeniculum / chemistry
  • Food Handling*
  • Fruit / chemistry*
  • Fruit / growth & development
  • Fruit / metabolism
  • Hordeum / chemistry
  • Industrial Waste
  • Lycopersicon esculentum / growth & development*
  • Metabolome
  • Minerals / analysis
  • Organic Agriculture / methods*
  • Phenol / analysis
  • Plant Extracts / administration & dosage*
  • Seeds / chemistry


  • Industrial Waste
  • Minerals
  • Plant Extracts
  • Phenol
  • Ascorbic Acid