Renewable Farming

12 ways you can raise yields with more effective foliar sprays

Robust prices for corn, beans and wheat — but breathtaking costs for fertilizer and many crop protection products — create a powerful incentive for enhancing your foliar spray program with WakeUP. 

April 29, 2021  The University of Nebraska’s Dr. Roch Gaussoin could be labeled the “dean” of foliar feeding. His staff researched this technology for years and found these foliar-feeding benefits:

1. 31% to 99% of nitrogen used by the crop, versus only 10% to 40% for soil-applied N. Other applied nutrients showed similar results. Trace elements are especially efficient via foliar.

2. Less nutrient leaching below the root zone, less groundwater contamination.

3. Gives you season-long adjustments in nutrient rates and timing, based on crop tissue and sap tests. 

Farmers enthused about Renewable Farming and biologically friendly technologies are the most likely to keep nourishing their crops well into the reproduction phase. Our recommendation: If it’s green, foliar-feed it.

Corn growers who keep spraying and y-dropping nutrients through vegetative growth, and well into grain fill, can add 40 bu. to yields.  Corn nourished this way doesn’t die until frost kills it.

We’ve presented a brief foliar-feeding PowerPoint several farmer seminars. The typical grower who comes up to chat after the presentation is one who has heard some agronomists claim that foliar feeding can’t add nutrients… they only come in through the roots. That’s a myth.

You can download a PDF of our “12 Foliar Feeding Ideas for Extra Yields” show at this link. It’s a 5-megabit file; most farm internet connections can handle it. It opens with Adobe Acrobat, which is installed on most desktop computers. Best viewed on a 14-inch or wider screen.

The presentation reveals that foliar nutrients are absorbed and metabolized quickly.  A crucial point: University of Nebraska foliar tests were done without the added benefit of WakeUP in the spray solution. Our own field tests for a decade demonstrate that Wakeup enhances leaf coverage, nutrient absorption, and nutrient translocation through the crop’s phloem tube system. One of our early field tests at our local ACRES research farm measured transfer of a trace mineral blend in soybeans which were filling pods. The tissue analysis of the pods, which contained half-filled soybeans, showed that WakeUP in the trace element solution amplified transfer of nutrients all the way to the filling pods and beans. You’ll see that data on Slide 16 when you download the show.

Wheatfield with sprayer tramlines, which are common
in Britain’s “Yield Enhancement Network”

Advanced European farmers spray crops several times each growing season. So do American yield contest winners; they typically own high-clearance sprayers so they can time applications effectively. 

Many farmers choose to custom-apply herbicides and fungicides because a newer GPS-equipped sprayer costs $100,000 to $200,000 or more, and you don’t have to handle toxic chemicals. The extra cost of custom spraying discourages season-long foliar feeding.

But when it comes to applying foliar fertilizers or streaming nutrients, you can do an excellent job yourself with an older, less complex sprayer. They’re not huge, or pretty, and you can spray late in the evening and then hide the rig in the machine shed, next to your $200,000 tractor.  For years we sprayed with a $5,000 4WD Hagie equipped with a 60-foot boom. It was ideal for test strips, which is another benefit of doing your own spraying. Our Hagie was an open-air experience, but the spray boom was on the rear and we weren’t fogging toxic herbicides. With WakeUP, you can use a medium or coarse spray, and your foliar product will spread across the leaf with a glossy coat.

The Nebraska studies indicated that spraying in early morning or evening produced the best leaf absorption. Winds are usually calmer then, too. But your co-op may not be able to adhere to such a schedule.

Another do-it-yourself plus: Looking down on a cornfield as you spray reveals variations in crop health that you don’t see from the road. It’s an ideal scouting machine.

One well-known foliar recommendation: About nine days after a glyphosate application, spray zinc, manganese and other trace elements to remediate the chelating impact of glyphosate on the crop. Soybean yield champ Kip Cullers of Missouri advised us personally on that point. 

Opening slide of our downloadable presentation on foliar feeding