Foliar feeding is a method of fertilizing plants directly. It involves directly spraying nutrients onto the plants leaves and stem where they are absorbed and used. It is considered an almost immediate way to feed your plants. It is becoming very common especially among small gardeners and lawn owners. It has a several advantages and disadvantages which include the following.
Foliar Fertilization is the most efficient way to increase yield and plant health. Tests have shown that foliar feeding can increases yields from 12% to 25% when compared to conventional fertilization. Tests, conducted in different locations, under different environmental conditions, have reflected the following;
- When fertilizers are foliar applied, more that 90% of the fertilizer is utilized by the plant. When a similar amount is applied to the soil, only 10 percent of it is used.
- In the sandy loam, foliar applied fertilizers are up to 20 times more effective when compared to soil applied fertilizers.
Foliar feeding is an effective method for correcting soil deficiencies and overcoming the soil’s inability to transfer nutrients to the plant under low moisture conditions. The effectiveness of foliar applied nutrients is determined by
- The condition of the leaf surface, in particular the waxy cuticle. The cuticle is only partially permeable to water and dissolved nutrients and, as a result, it can limit nutrient uptake.
- The length of time the nutrient remains dissolved in the solution on the leaf’s surface.
- Diffusion, the movement of elements from a high concentration to a low concentration. For diffusion to occur, the nutrient must dissolve, and
- The type of formulation. Water-soluble formulations generally work better for foliar applications as they are more easily absorbed when compared to insoluble solutions.
More Benefits from Foliar Sprays
Not only do nutritional foliar sprays benefit plants above ground but they also feed soil biology and increase the stock of capital in the “barter system” happening within the rhizosphere. The rhizosphere is that thin covering of soil surrounding roots of a plant that is teaming with life. This is the “marketplace” where the “producers” and the “decomposers” get together and trade with each other. The “producers” i.e. plants trade amino acids and carbohydrates in the form of exudates and mucigel in exchange for dissolved soil minerals. Mucigel is that slimy polysaccharide substance covering roots that helps roots penetrate soil. It is also an excellent food and energy source for bacteria. Soil bacteria must have energy (plant sugars) to survive and “decompose” rock powders to liberate bound up nutrients to “trade” with plants.
When a foliar spray is properly made and applied it will cause an increase of plant sugars. A certain percentage (research suggests 25-30%) of these sugars are used to feed soil biology. Thus the outcome of a proper foliar program results in an extra infusion of “capital” into the “marketplace” of the rhizosphere; more sugars feed the soil biology and thus more soil minerals are taken up by the plant. What an amazing system and Creator!