Soil health depends on a constant balance of nutrients (aka co-factors) and soil life. This is why 90% of our customized crop health therapy protocols at Custom Agricultural Intelligence Inc. is geared towards soil health. We believe that a healthy soil will output a healthy crop, it is that simple. For the soil to output a healthy crop that will build bushels, it must follow its unique blueprint for growth. Let’s take a moment to discuss the crop’s unique blueprints for growth. Here are a couple of important points;
- There must be a balance in co-factors and crop hormones at critical stages of the crop’s growth cycle.
- There is a hierarchy of nutrient uptake from the soil. (Our protocol covers this point).
- Different co-factors and hormones are needed at critical stages of the crop’s growth cycle.
- Plant food (N.P.K.S) and plant multivitamins (primary and secondary micro-nutrients) are important and need to be applied in such a way that there is a balance in cations and anions. This is what true nutrient balance means.
Currently, we have the application of plant food (N.P.K.S) taken care of by way of calculated amounts of compound fertilizer blends applied at seeding or broadcasted in the fall. The co-factors are now being applied in a couple of ways via foliar feeding, liquid impregnation of dry fertilizers and dry incorporation with dry fertilizer.
As a leading manufacturer of both liquid and dry formulations, we will like to educate growers on the meaning of the different methods of incorporating micro-nutrients to give them a fair chance at understanding what adds “true” value and “perceived” value.
Liquid Foliar feeding products: This is mostly a dry-liquid suspension of one or more macro and/or micro-nutrients in a solution. The ingredients are premixed together in a W/W or W/V manner using mostly water as the base. Most times, they come in chelated forms which helps to improve the nutrients absorption by the crop. The resulting product is created according to a formulation and sprayed at critical points in the crop’s growth cycle.
- Supplies micro amounts of macro/micro-nutrients.
- If chelated, absorption of the micro-nutrients is enhanced.
- Can be applied with most crop protection products if compatibility is tested.
- Might lead to leaf burn if not formulated correctly.
- Nutrients present may not compliment soils nutrient deficiencies effectively.
- Can’t rebuild soil nutrient bank which is critical to soil health.
Liquid impregnation on dry fertilizer: In this approach, micro-nutrients made by the procedure described above is sprayed on dry fertilizer (usually urea) at low rates in a bid to incorporate micro-nutrients into the pellets. The micro-nutrients to be could be impregnated could be varied or specific depending on the formulation of the liquid. This process has been hailed as a step forward towards safely getting micro-nutrients into the seed bed for absorption by the seedling and the crop. It is our opinion that the amount of nutrient impregnated into the fertilizer would be negligible (most times ml/100kg) and thus, add no real value. However, many processing plants have posted articles on their opinion on the value of liquid impregnation.
- No leave burn
- Can’t rebuild soil nutrient bank which is critical for soil health.
- Nutrients present may not compliment the soils/the crops nutrient deficiencies effectively
- If it’s not done right it can lead to caking of the fertilizer.
Dry incorporation: Dry micro-nutrient can be customized in form of homogeneous pellets and broadcasted with compound fertilizers. If chelated with the right chelating agent and in the right amount, micros can be placed with banded fertilizer to improve the absorption of nutrients.
- Better than liquid impregnation in supplying adequate amounts of micro-nutrients to the crop and the soil.
- Can help replenish the soil nutrient bank.
- No leave burn.
- If chelated, absorption of the micro-nutrients is enhanced.
- Can be applied without interfering with any foliar pass (passes)
- If formulated incorrectly, it can cause toxicity to the seed/soil.
Upon reviewing the pros and cons outlined above contact our Biochemist to discuss which option best suits your crop’s growing needs so as to add real value to your operation.
To be continued …
Have you ever wondered what the best timing to foliar apply nutrients to your crop is? Growers know that there are many interconnecting factors that affects crop management and building bushels. Knowing when to apply the right crop nutrient, in this case, micronutrient foliar application, is an important dynamic in the process of building bushel.
Here we look at some of the conditions that promote effective foliar fertilizer application and utilization.
Foliar application can act as a supplement only (not a replacement) to soil fertilizer application. However, under some conditions, foliar applications can actually be more beneficial/effective. Here are some of these conditions;
- High Soil pH (too acidic or too alkaline)
- Temperature stress
- High Soil moisture (too high or too low)
- High Pests/insect pressure
- High variability in soil nutrient throughout the growing field
- Root/soil borne disease pressure
In all of these conditions, the prevailing condition significantly slows down nutrient uptake by the plant. Adding more nutrients to the soil in this case will not be as effective and only result in costly waste and potential environmental damage. Foliar application can help mitigate/solve these problems, strengthen the plant and enable it to thrive under the stress conditions outlined above. In most cases, foliar application can be beneficial because the nutrient uptake by the plant will be faster and enable the plant to recover quicker than through soil application.
Furthermore, in some growth phases of crop cycle, foliar application may be more effective. This depends on the crop type and soil conditions. This is the main reason why testing and custom fertilizer combinations are proving to be more effective in recent years.
There are a number of factors that determine the effectiveness of foliar application. Some of those factors include the solubility of the nutrients, pH of the fertilizer, time of day, the EC of the foliar fertilizer and droplet size and retention. For example, the nutrients have to be soluble in order for the plant to absorb them. Also, the time of the day affects how the crops absorbs the nutrients. Foliar spraying close to when the crop stomata will be opened will be more valuable. Soil pH plays an important role in micronutrient absorption from the root. High or low soil pH ties up most of the soil nutrients. As a result of these outlined factors, it is safe to say that different crops and different soils need different nutrient prescriptions at different timing. This is yet another reason why foliar nutrient application should be considered via a customisation process that takes into consideration the type of crop, the nutrient needs of the plant, environmental conditions and soil/tissue analysis results. If these factors are not planned into your foliar formulation, it can cause negative effects on the crops yield. For example, too high nutrient concentrations along with the wrong timing of application can be detrimental to the crops.
If you are concerned that you are not applying the correct type and concentration of foliar crop health therapy formulations at the right timing, then talk to one of our expert crop health advisers and they will be able to help.
Hopefully you found this post helpful. If you want to know more about your crop nutrient needs, contact us – we’d love to chat!
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