INTRODUCTION TO FOLIAR FERTILIZERS b_right.gif (233 bytes)

The basis of our agricultural 'system' is based on pasture and grazing, which replaces the high input cost systems traditionally used in the Northern Hemisphere.

The development of specialised cultivars of perennial ryegrass, and superior more nutritious strains of white clover, were significant breakthroughs which boosted productivity in New Zealand.

In this 'system' farmers have been using foliar fertiliser since the early 1950's.

Even though the subject of  foliar fertilisation was little understood, 'experts' told farmers that they shouldn't use them, because in comparison to solid type fertilisers, foliars contained less nutrient.

While it is true that the major elements nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK) are more economically supplied in solid form, some 'experts' believed that it was only the quantity of these that counted.

However, the mere presence of a particular chemical element in the soil does not gaurantee the effective assimilation of mineral fertilisers by plants.

Nutrient demand curves indicate stages in a plant's life-cycle when the need for some nutrients may be greater than its physiological capacity to supply itself, even when these soil nutrients are abundantly available.

Highly soluble potassium and nitrogen-based fertilisers can be easily washed out from the soil, and phosphate fertilisers can attach themselves to ions of potassium, magnesium, aluminium and iron into chemically insoluble form for plants.

Foliar nutrients on the other hand are mobilised directly into plant leaves, which is the goal of fertilisation to begin with, increasing the rate of photosynthesis in the leaves, and by doing so stimulate nutrient absorption by plant roots.

Foliar fertilisation is by far the most effective way to apply micro nutrients or trace elements, and supplement the major elements. The readily-available nutrients are more easily utilised, because they do not have to be dissolved by moisture and go into the soil solution.

Foliar fertilisers used in conjunction with solid fertilisers, can be used to quickly correct a nutrient imbalance and stimulate increase in root uptake.

This does not mean that foliar fertiliser replaces solid fertiliser, but the use of foliar fertiliser has been shown to increase the availability of the applied major elements, that have been applied in solid form.

Foliar fertilisation can correct deficiencies, strengthen weak or damaged crops, speed growth and grow better plants, which is of course, the bottom line.

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