Renewable Farming

Why WakeUP Works In Your Crops

WakeUP is a colloid, not a dissolved solution. It has a physical action which improves nutrient mobility in crops by sharply reducing the surface tension of water and plant nutrient solutions. Please see the photos and technical description below for the reasons why this is important in crops. 

Special note on formulations: All of our field research from 2008 through 2012 used a product by Biobased USA of North Carolina. As of 2013, we formulated two distinctive new products labeled WakeUP Spring and WakeUP Summer.  Wakeup Spring is designed for spring vegetative and root growth. WakeUP Summer is a highly effective surfactant and nutrient transfer aid. 

With even a small amount of WakeUP inside the crop’s xylem and phloem circulation system, sugars and other nutrients move more easily from photosynthetic leaf cells to roots, seed and fruit.

Such nutrients move by ion exchange, not osmotic pressure or capillary action. The movement depends on energy transfer, and thus conductivity. Some scientists call the nutrient transfer mechanism a “proton pump.” If surface tension and viscosity in the plant sugar solution is reduced, it takes less energy to transport sugars and other nutrients from the leaf to roots and seed. This is the primary effect of WakeUP.

We’ve confirmed with tissue tests that WakeUP is both a highly effective surfactant and carrier of nutrients. Over 95% of plant mass is built by photosynthesis from carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. WakeUP has a small amount of nitrogen, but its main impact on applied fertilizers is by mobilizing NPK and trace elements. Trace elements are critical for regulating plant functions.

Here’s what we are seeing WakeUP do for corn and soybeans in the Midwest:

1. When WakeUP is applied alone or with a herbicide at the two-leaf stage in a season with abundant moisture, corn and soybean yield increases are modest but reliable. The average in three years of random-replicated trial data from S&R Consulting based in Atlanta, Indiana, was a 4.9 bu. yield gain for soybeans; 12.4 bu. for corn. Plot results tend to be higher than field results, so the S&R data are a bit on the upper end of the range.  We are conservative, suggesting you look for 2 to 5 bu. gain on soybeans; 4 to 10 bu. gain on corn.

2. If there are dry, warm weeks during the growing season, farmers report that WakeUP “preserves”  5 to 10 bu. of bean yield and 10 to 20 bu. of corn which would otherwise be lost as crops wilt and lose growing time. During the drought of 2012, farmers reported 8 to 12 bu. more corn from a single V2 application of WakeUP.

WakeUP Spring stimulates more profuse rooting when applied on wheat, corn and beans around the two-leaf stage. If applied later, such as V4 or beyond, root development benefits are far less pronounced. That early rooting stimulus is very important in less fertile soils and Southern latitudes where deep, profuse roots help carry corn and soybeans through dry stretches. Our controlled “terrarium” trials show how deeper rooting from WakeUP keeps beans growing through stress. This is what pays off in a dry year. That big-root benefit is very clear when we monitor crops in a “terrarium:” A 20-foot-long wooden structure holding soil soil three feet deep and a foot wide. Example: beans treated with WakeUP at the two trifoliate stage kept on growing through August and September dry-weather stress. When we looked at roots later by gently washing away the soil, the root mass on WakeUP treated soybeans and corn was much larger.  

However, a larger root system may not increase yields much in Midwest areas with high organic soils and abundant moisture. Those larger differences only show up on WakeUP applied at V2 if there’s dry weather during the vegetative growth season which restrains growth for two to three weeks.

3. Applied with contact herbicides, WakeUP also enhances absorption and translocation of the herbicide through weeds. WakeUP’s colloidal action softens the waxy cuticle on leaves for improved herbicide penetration.

4. Tank-mixed with foliar nutrients, WakeUP improves absorption into leaves and translocation through the crop’s phloem circulation. In the 2012 season, we encouraged soybean and corn growers to foliar-spray a tank mix of WakeUP and trace-element blend if they are growing GMO soybeans and corn. It takes only 5 ounces per acre of WakeUP to increase uptake and translocation of trace elements. 

Our research since 2008 has focused on screening combinations of nutrients and application times which are effective on high-yielding corn and soybeans. Each season, we have conducted at least 100 plot trials. We’re looking for nutrient blends which are more effective when tank-mixed with WakeUP at application time.

In general, WakeUP Summer as a surfactant/carrier amplifies the effectiveness of a good micronutrient formulation by 50% to 80%. For example, if a micronutrient foliar boosts crop yield by 5 bu. when applied alone, including WakeUP Summer in the tank mix will usually add another 4 bu. per acre. 

To sum up, there are three primary opportunities to make WakeUP pay on corn and beans:

1. First is to use it in starter or pop-up fertilizer, to mobilize nutrient uptake through roots. If you have only one shot at it and have only $3 an acre this is where to spend three ounces of WakeUP Spring. This is effective either in-furrow, after the planter closing wheels, or (less so) injected 2×2. Some farmers make a complex “soup” of starter solutions, and we advise that adding WakeUP to a blend of nutrients right out of the jug, without water dilution, can cause reactions in the tank.  We encourage at least as much water in the starter tank as nutrients, to provide a buffer.  Sequence for starters:  Water, WakeUP, agitate and then add the nutrient blends. No more than 3 ounces per acre of WakeUP when used in-furrow or 2×2.

2. Second is to spray WakeUP Spring on crops at V2, the two-leaf stage, to encourage deeper rooting. This is sometimes done tank-mixed with an early-applied herbicide, but can be done with WakeUP alone.  This early stage doesn’t offer much foliage to spray, and farmers are typically reluctant to spray WakeUP at the two-leaf stage of corn and soybeans. However, WakeUP which hits the ground is later picked up by rapidly growing roots. That extends the useful time of WakeUP in the crop circulation system.  If your emerged beans push much past V3, we suggest waiting to catch the next soybeans which you are about to plant, or saving your WakeUP to use with late foliar nutrients.

3. The third opportunity is to tank-mix WakeUP with foliar applied nutrients such as trace elements or NPK foliar fertilizer. The goal here is to improve absorption and translocation of those nutrients.  We recommend tissue testing to get clues of what’s needed by the plant.


Here’s why it’s important that WakeUP is a colloid. When you pour WakeUP in a sprayer tank with water, it creates “colloidal micelles.” These are clusters of roughly 100 or 200 water molecules structured around the WakeUP colloid with their negative ends out. Thus, water loses 60% or more of its “stickiness” or surface tension. You can envision each water micelle as a tiny “ball bearing” of water molecules, with all of its surfaces carrying a negative charge. Since these micelles repel each other, the measure of water’s surface tension falls from 71 Dynes to 28. 


A simple laser experiment allows you to check the nature of a concentrated surfactant. Most surfactants are a solution, not colloids suspended in a liquid. The colloidal particles in WakeUP have an average size of about eight angstroms, which is less than one-billionth of a meter.

The jar in the photos nearby both have the same laser beam shining through them at a downward 45-degree angle. The top photo shows the jar with only distilled water in it.  This is a true solution. The laser beam doesn’t reflect off the water as it passes through, so all you see is the laser impact point at the top left of the jar, and its glare as it hits the countertop on the right of the jar.

The second photo shows the same laser shining through the same jar, but WakeUP has been added to the water at a concentration of 1:100 — one part WakeUP concentrate per 100 parts water. This is a common field application rate.

Now the streak of red laser light shows up clearly. It’s bouncing off the tiny WakeUP colloids suspended in the distilled water. They are so small that if you could spray a cubic inch (roughly an ounce) of concentrated WakeUP on a field just one colloid deep, the layer of colloids touching each other would blanket about four acres.

Farmers note that with WakeUP in the spray tank, it takes 5% to 10% less pressure to pump a spray solution through the spray tips at a fixed rate per acre.

This drop in surface tension has another effect: It dramatically reduces capillary action, which is the physical means by which water migrates from subsoil to the surface — and evaporates.  You can demonstrate this easily: Just put a teaspoon of WakeUP in your wick-type humidifier. It will virtually stop working because water will “wick” very slowly up the paper fibers.

We’re conducting soil evaporation tests to see how much, if any, the same effect has on reducing evaporation from the top inch or so of soil in a field. Even if the effect is slight in breaking up capillary action near the soil surface, it could be helpful in reducing evaporation loss.

In fact, we may not realize that we are getting some benefit from this “mulch” effect when spraying crops at V2 — when most of the spray goes on the soil surface. If so, it would help farmers past a psychological barrier that they’re “just spraying dirt”  out there at the two-leaf stage applying WakeUP.

Inside a plant, the nutrient solution is pumped by what plant physiologists call “proton pumps.”  The pumping requires energy. With WakeUP in the plant solution, less energy is required to move sugars and other nutrients from leaves to roots, from leaves to seed or new growth.  If we can save the plant some energy required to move plant sap, more total photosynthetic energy can be applied to growth and seed formation.  As Dr. Carey Reams observed decades ago, plants are built by ionic transfer.WakeUP also raises conductivity.  Pure WakeUP concentrate has a conductivity of about 1,700 microsiemens.

Rainwater or commercially distilled water has a few impurities in it, and typically has a conductivity of 5 to 10 microsiemens. Groundwater, which has many dissolved minerals such as calcium, will typically range from 200 to 500 microsiemens. Adding a normal amount of concentrated WakeUP to a spray solution will raise its conductivity to around 700 microsiemens.  This happens to be nearly the ideal level for favorable ion transfer in a fertile soil.  Anytime you test your soil with a conductivity probe and see a reading below 400, it’s a signal that growth will be slow because ion transfer will be slow. 

Bottom line is that WakeUP reduces surface tension of plant sap, making it more mobile, and also raises conductivity, which aids ion transfer.