Experimental determination of the extent and rate of transport of liquid humates supplied to plants is critical in testing physiological effects of such biostimulants which are often supplied as foliar sprays. Therefore, an original experimental method for the qualitative investigation and quantitative description of the penetration of humates through plant cuticles is proposed, tested, and evaluated.
The proposed method involves the isolation of model plant leaf cuticles and the subsequent in vitro evaluation of cuticular humate transport. The employed novel methodology is based on a simple diffusion couple arrangement involving continuous spectrophotometric determination of the amount of penetrated humate in a hydrogel diffusion medium. Prunus laurocerasus leaf cuticles were isolated by chemical and enzymatic treatment and the rate of cuticular penetration of a commercial humate (lignohumate) was estimated over time in quantitative and qualitative terms. Different rates of lignohumate transport were determined for abaxial and adaxial leaf cuticles also in relation to the different cuticular extraction methods tested.
The proposed methodology represents a simple and cheap experimental tool for the study on the trans-cuticular penetration of humic-based biostimulants.