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Foliar Feeding

EM-1 Foliar Fertilizer Enhancement for Superior Foliar Feeding

Research has demonstrated that applying nutrients through their leaves is a great way to increase micronutrients in plants to supplement deficiencies in the soil. At certain times of the day the stoma are open. As a rule of thumb, it is best to do foliar feeding in the early evening as the sun is going down. Savvy farmers know this and take advantage of it, applying foliar fertilizers at a light dilution to give a boost to their plants’ foliar feeds.

Check the brix of your plants the following morning and compare. The plants that were foliar fed will have a higher brix. The higher the brix, the more sugar your plants have in them.

EM•1® Microbial Inoculant can be applied the same way and mixed with plant nutrients for enhanced foliar fertilization. The byproducts of the beneficial bacteria populations in EM•1® include antioxidants, bioflavinoids, vitamins, and other micronutrients that support plant health.

Foliar Feeding Application

Foliar feeding rates will vary according to the size of the plant during the growing season. Our best programs have been starting at 1/2 gallon per acre per week and up to 5 gallons per acre per week. Leaves are sprayed until moist, not dripping wet.

We usually do a 3-5% solution of Ag1000®, a 2-5% nutrient solution, and a wetting agent, mixed in tank with water. Liquid humate or lignin could be added to the mix as well. When using conventional fertilizers, go with the lower dilution. With natural or organic fertilizers, you can go 5% or slightly higher, depending on the type of plant.

If applying pesticides, Ag1000® is compatible with most biological pesticides, but not synthetic ones. In general it is OK to tank mix with biological pesticides as long as the mixture is sprayed within an hour. Several synthetic pesticides have been tested and kill all the microbes in the product in as little as 30 seconds. If using synthetic pesticides, apply separately, waiting at least 24-48 hours between applications.

Application Equipment Consideration
Best results are achieved when foliar sprays are finely atomized with a drifting mist. Any piece of equipment listed below will suit this purpose.

  • Orchard Fan Spray Rig - Both 3-point type and larger pull-behind PTO units work well (usually used for large acreage applications).

  • Boom-Type Sprayers - Some advantage can be gained by increasing sprayer pressure, tilting the nozzles back to a 45º angle to allow the spray to drift onto the plants.

  • Backpack Leaf Blower with Liquid Attachment - Good for applications from backyard up to 5 acres

  • Hand Pump Sprayer - Backpack units designed for up to 90 psi are good for backyard gardens up to 1 acre.

  • Electrostatic Sprayer - Units impart a charge to the spray particles, causing them to adhere more readily to plants.

When to Foliar Spray:

  • Foliar feeding is most effective in the evening or in the early dawn, when temperatures are mild and wind is minimal.

  • When wind is minimal, finely atomized sprays drift readily.

  • Absorption is further enhanced when weather conditions are humid and moist. The presence of dew on the leaves facilitates foliar feeding.

  • Absorption is improved when sprays also reach and coat the undersides of leaves where the majority of the plant's stomata are located.


When NOT to Foliar Spray:

  • Do NOT spray during the height of the day (10:00 AM to 4:00 PM).

For Best Results:

  • Foliar feed once per week during the growing season.

  • Foliar feed in the evening.

  • During very wet periods, foliar feed one to three times per week.

  • A surfactant or whetting agent added to the solution decreases surface tension on the leaf and facilitates absorption.


Assessing the results:

Within as little as four hours of day light after the foliar application, the progress of the plants can be checked with a refractometer in a relatively simple process. Begin by extracting a sample of sap from several of the crop plants before foliar applications. By testing several possible blends using several spray bottles, you can determine the best blend to use. Then follow the instructions below:

  • Squeeze the leaves or stems with a garlic press or some other tool.

  • Place the extracted sap in the refractometer to measure and record the reading.

  • Use a spray bottle to mist a small sample of foliar spray blend onto the plants.

  • After a short time, extract and measure another sap sample.

  • If the Brix has increased, apply foliar feeding with that specific blend.

  • A "placebo" spray of distilled water should be tested at the same time to discount any changes.

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