Renewable Farming

“I’ve learned that full-season foliar feeding can make money”

That headline sums up comments from a central Iowa client who has a growing understanding of full-season crop nourishment. The prospect of $13-plus soybeans is an incentive, too. So is the fact that he has access to a family-owned high-clearance sprayer, as we’ve encouraged farmers to do. 

July 28, 2021 Does this recommendation to foliar-feed mean we should spray already-beautiful beans in reproductive stage 3 and 4 — showing 100 pods per plant?


Our farmer client’s foliar feeding mix included a liquid fish product, Biodyne’s SG Advance, a little sugar (molasses is a good source), and WakeUP Summer to amplify the benefits of all three.

Just a few of the new blooms on soybeans
which already average 100 pods per plant

Another encouragement for this grower’s late-season feeding: Six inches of rain fell on his fields in late June and early July. Even though rainfall prospects are now looking scarce in central Iowa through August, the treated beans are pushing many more new blooms (see photo) than untreated beans of the same variety. 

“We’ll be watching to see how many of these potential new pods actually fill,” says our client. 

In 10 years of strip trials with soybeans on our experimental farm, we’ve often seen profitable responses to foliar feeding applications we’ve made weeks into the reproductive phase.

The technology of foliar products has improved in the past few years. Companies are refining broad-spectrum trace element blends in foliar products based on accumulated experience.

Even though your tissue test may come back from the lab as “high” for key micros such as manganese, zinc, molybdenum and others, remember that “high” standards are based on long-term averages which the lab has accumulated over the years. For super yields, higher parts per million on key elements can open the way to higher yields. We recommend that you study tissue tests from the best-performing areas of your fields, and use that as your standard for what trace element readings should be.

Some trace-element companies show the mineral analysis of their product as required by fertilizer regulations, but provide additional growth stimulants and amino acids — even vitamins — to fully metabolize the extra nutrient supply.  Advance, for example, contains amino acids.

Back in 2013, we ran a soybean foliar feeding trial in a field where soil tests showed a serious potassium deficiency, even though we applied an abundance of K the fall before. This offered a useful demonstration of simple foliar feeding: We sprayed K plus WakeUP on alternating 6-row soybean strips completely across the field. 

The visual results were vivid (which isn’t easy to achieve with foliars on beans). Yield difference between foliar-fed and untreated beans: 8 bushels. We used mostly an AgriEnergy potassium product, with WakeUP.  You can download the full report on a PDF file at this link.


Darker six-row strips were foliar fed during July and August