Plants are able to absorb a surprising amount of nutrition through the leaves. With this capacity, foliar applications are often a very productive method to improve the health and productivity of a crop. Soil-based applications can be uneven or long-term, not providing immediate results in many cases. Foliar applications, when done properly, provide instant nutrition, with the minerals absorbed directly from the leaf surfaces. Foliar applications are a great way to give plants a quick boost to build plant strength and prevent disease. Foliar applications are particularly effective for applying trace minerals, since the quantities needed are so small. Trace minerals provide some of the most critical nutrients to build a plant's immune system and provide protection from both pests and pathogens.
In 2012, we had the opportunity to run a comparison test on some soybean fields. We had proven the products and methods previously, but this farm needed to see for themselves what a difference our foliar nutrition could make. Both sides of the field received the same base fertility program, and the same amount of water. On one side, we added a trace mineral foliar application on the young plants. Shortly after our application, the rain stopped and Mississippi had one of their worst droughts on record through that growing season. We expected to see a difference in the treated side of the field, but we were surprised at the scope of that difference.
In the picture below, you can see images from both the untreated and treated sides of the field. These pictures were taken on the same day.
As you can see, the untreated side of the field was struggling to set fruit. There were flowers, but no pods. However, on the treated side of the field, the flowers had set abundant pods, in spite of the drought. To further illustrate the difference in the plants, we had the farmer submit tissues from each side for a mineral analysis. The results are shown below.
The plants from the untreated side of the field were either Low or Very Low in almost all of the nutrients examined. However, the plants from the treated side of the field rated Optimum in almost all nutrients. And the only reason Potassium was low was because they didn't apply the Potassium supplement we sent them.