Renewable Farming

What makes WakeUP different from hundreds of other ag surfactants?

WakeUP does more than reduce surface tension in spray solutions. It’s also a powerful cleanser: It softens and lifts the waxy leaf cuticle barrier, so spray products quickly absorb into leaf metabolism. And once the spray solution is circulating in your crop’s phloem tubes, WakeUP accelerates nutrient transfer by easing the flow of liquid sugars produced by leaf chlorophyll.

Another major difference: Most of the other ag surfactants are petroleum-based, with labels warning of toxic chemicals. WakeUP is made of plant-based alcohols and oils. It’s much safer. You can use WakeUP as a household cleanser — washing your vegetables, hands and dishes.

How can it be effective with just a few ounces per acre?

WakeUP concentrate looks like honey, but it’s composed of trillions of  “colloidal micelles.” These structures have negatively charged exteriors that repel each other, so the fluid is extremely slippery and flows easily. Micelles bond ionically with water, positively charged crop nutrients, and chemicals dissolved in the spray solution. The micelles are “lipophylic” meaning that they link oil and water; this is how they soften and lift the waxy or oily cuticle that covers leaf surfaces. This is especially beneficial on warm-climate crops like citrus, which have a thicker protective barrier against moisture loss from the leaves.  Here’s a photo of a soybean leaf — glossy a few seconds after a light spray with WakeUP Summer and nutrients:

Dew-covered soybean leaf before spraying

Can I eliminate other surfactants if I use WakeUP Summer in the spray solution?

Generally, yes. Some herbicide labels specify a “sticker” such as crop oil, and it’s always soundest to follow label instructions with crop protection products. But if a surfactant is recommended by the label, our field and lab testing indicates that WakeUP Summer moves more of the “payload” product into leaf tissue than any other surfactant we’ve used side-by-side with WakeUP Summer. 

Does WakeUP Summer replace AMS or other pH adjusting adjuvant in my herbicide spray solution?

No. Herbicide labels often specify reducing the pH of water with spray-grade ammonium sulfate (AMS), citric acid or a proprietary acidifier.  You need to follow the label for that requirement. Concentrated WakeUP Summer has a pH of about 10.5, but since so little is used — perhaps 5 ounces per 20 gallons of water — it has minimal effect on acidity of the spray solution.  WakeUP creates colloidal micelles with physics that’s independent from the usual rates of pH adjustment.

Some surfactants claim to reduce spray drift. Does WakeUP?

The way we encourage growers to reduce drift with WakeUP is to spray with a medium to somewhat coarse droplet size. A drop of water containing about 1 part WakeUP Summer to 250 parts water will quickly “sheet” across the leaf, creating a thin film of spray solution. You don’t need a fine mist to get glossy coverage. That’s true even on fuzzy leaves, like soybeans. A heavier droplet has less evaporation and less drift than a mist. Even so, we recommend spraying in the early morning or late afternoon, when wind speeds are often lighter and temperatures cooler.

You said I can spray foliar nutrients in the morning… even when there’s dew on leaves?

Yes. The extra water on the leaves — distilled water, no less — on the leaves offers extra “carrying power” to spread and translocate NPK and trace elements into leaf metabolism. It’s water you don’t have to haul to the field. We recommend around 20 gallons per acre in spray programs, to achieve that glossy coat, but farmers often back down to 10 or 12 to avoid refilling so often. When you spray leaves with dew on them, even during a 95% humidity morning, the crop will look almost dry after 10 to 20 minutes. The spray solution has not evaporated; the humidity retards evaporation. It has been absorbed. What you want is a glossy sheen on the leaves within seconds after spraying, not rounded droplets. With a sheet of spray solution on the leaf, every cell in the leaf surface becomes an opportunity for quick and complete absorption. Rain-fast absorption is possible in less than a half-hour.

“Stickers” that hold spray materials on the leaf surface may help, but we’d rather see nutrients move through the cuticle and into the palisade cells where they can be metabolized and moved to growing points quickly.

Here’s a photo of how dew-drenched soybeans appear dry soon after spraying with WakeUP in the spray solution:

Soybean leaves look dry soon after spraying with WakeUP: The solution has penetrated rather than evaporated

 What’s the difference between WakeUP Spring and WakeUP Summer?

WakeUP Spring is designed for use in-furrow with nutrients and biologicals, and also for direct foliar application in early stages of crop growth. It’s a more enduring, internally effective formulation which works alone. Example: When you spray WakeUP Spring on corn or soybeans at the two-leaf stage, it enters the crop’s phloem system and reduces internal surface tension of the sap solution. Sugars move more easily and quickly into roots and other growing points. That helps build more massive, deeper roots early in the season. It has the same benefit on winter wheat when applied in the spring as wheat emerges from dormancy: More vigorous rooting, better stooling and more yield. Same for alfalfa: Sprayed on regrowth after each cutting, it encourages root penetration and root hair proliferation. That, in turn, stimulates mycorrhizae colonization of the roots. And mycorrhizae are 10 times more effective than roots alone at dissolving soil nutrients for crop use. 

What’s the benefit for using WakeUP Spring in-furrow with my pop-up fertilizer or microbial mixes?

Several years ago, farmers began experimenting with this idea, and found yield benefits. They told us about their work. So we followed up with testing on our research farm — and confirmed that WakeUP Spring helps mobilize root absorption of nutrients, just as it does in leaves. We’re enthused about in-furrow fertility as a high-priority way to get a high rate of yield response per dollar spent. Using just three or four ounces of WakeUP Spring per acre with your in-furrow nutrient solution amplifies the yield response to those nutrients. Check out the archive reports on this subject, on our website at

The same effect occurs with 2×2 side-dressed NPI. When we first began working with this technology in 2008, we learned that farmers in the U.S. Southeast often included 8 to 10 ounces of a colloidal micelle surfactant with their side-dressed liquid nitrogen. Some of them applied around 60 units of N this way, as 28% or 32% liquid nitrogen.  They reported substantial yield benefits where the surfactant was used to mobilize nitrogen uptake by the roots. We thoroughly re-formulated that old technology into WakeUP Spring, using what we learned from a colloidal micelle cleanser manufacturer with more than 20 years’ experience. 

I’ve heard that WakeUP Summer makes contact herbicides “hotter.” What are the facts?

Contact herbicide labels often call for a surfactant or “sticker” such as crop oil to improve leaf absorption by targeted weeds. WakeUP Summer does that. It also improves chemical penetration and systemic transfer through the weed’s phloem system. Our primary purpose for WakeUP is to improve crop nutrition and yield, but farmers often use it as a herbicide or insecticide enhancer. It’s difficult to offer quantitative data on how much it helps kill weeds. We encourage farmers to try adding some WakeUP Summer to their blend of herbicides and evaluate the result for themselves.

Our field experience has been limited to using Cobra with WakeUP Summer on weed escapes in soybeans. Generally, it appears that Cobra mobilized with WakeUP achieves equal weed control to Cobra and MSO (methylated seed oil) or other sticker. But we saw less soybean leaf damage with WakeUP Summer alone as a surfactant. We can’t claim it’s a “safener” but soybeans apparently respond well to the WakeUP as it’s a plant-based formula rather than a petroleum product.

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Original  Aug. 2016

Updated  March  2018