Dr. Roch Gaussoin, foliar feeding scientist at the University of Nebraska, cites research showing that corn absorbs 31% to 99% of leaf-applied nitrogen. However, only 10% to 40% of soil-applied nitrogen is absorbed.
On average then, crops recover only about 20% of soil-applied nitrogen such as anydrous or broadcast ammonium sulfate. Roughly 80% of your fertility dollars vaporize or wash away.
But with the right surfactants and foliar spray techniques, up to 99% of nitrogen is recovered directly by crop metabolism. That’s why we’ve seen 10 to 12 bu. of corn yield added by pre-tassel foliar feeding just a gallon or two of 28% nitrogen. Another good pre-tassel foliar is Kugler Company’s 2075.
Several innovations are accelerating a shift to more use of foliar fertility across American farms:
1. High-clearance sprayers are increasingly capable, with GPS and automated boom height controls. An example is the spectacular German-made Horsch PT 330 with radar-adjusted hydraulic boom control. Here’s a YouTube Video of this spectacular sprayer — which will soon be imported into the U.S. by one of our farmer friends who already is marketing planters by Horsch.
2. Faster, more accurate diagnostics of your crops’ needs are becoming more available. Sap analysis, an improvement on tissue analysis, provides an early warning signal of specific crop needs for trace elements or NPK before the crop loses growing time. Tissue analysis or visual symptoms of deficiency are helpful to remediate deficiencies, but yields have already suffered by the time those numbers show up on a tissue test report.
3. Pressures are rising for more efficient use of crop nutrients — with less stream pollution. Voluntary nutrient management programs could well give way to mandatory ones as the legal and political conflicts rise.
4. WakeUP Summer is a modest ‘breakthrough’ in foliar feeding crops. The ag marketplace offers hundreds of spray surfactants, stickers and drift reducers, but the collidal micelle technology of WakeUP is unique because it performs five critical jobs of delivering crop nutrients:
- Allows you to use larger spray droplets to reduce drift and evaporation, saving 10% or more of your costly nutrients.
- Reduces surface tension of spray solution. Droplets ‘clear-coat’ leaf surfaces, even fuzzy soybean leaves.
- Temporarily softens the waxy outer cuticle on leaves which hold moisture in… and spray solutions out. This allows rapid penetration of your spray solution through the leaf barrier. Even on a misty morning heavy with dew, sprayed leaves appear dry in 10 to 20 minutes because the spray has migrated into the palisade cells and phloem distribution tubules.
- Gently ‘chelates’ nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and trace element molecules so the leaf microtubules accept them. WakeUP Summer is formulated entirely from plant-based products, not petroleum like most ag surfactants. Thus, crops recognize WakeUP as a biologically “friendly” colloidal substance.
- Reduces internal surface tension of the plant sap solution, making nutrients and sugars easier to pump from leaves to roots and other growth points.
Tom Harris, a North Carolina grower and early user of this foliar feeding technology on soybeans and peanuts, described the effect of colloical micelle techology with these words: “It opens the trap door to drop fertility into the whole crop.” Tom found it especially helpful on peanuts, which need rapid delivery of sugars, proteins and other nutrients to the root zone.
Click on this link to download a PDF summary of several field trials we’ve done since 2008 showing the nutrient transfer effectiveness achieved with WakeUP Summer and earlier, different formulations which employ the same colloidal micelle principles.