No-tillers find that foliar applications can help fine-tune fertility programs and boost yields. While not a replacement for a solid soil-based fertility program, foliar-feeding strategies aim to maximize productivity in well-managed crops.
“Foliar fertilizer isn’t a miracle product, but we’ve seen pretty good results,” says Columbus Junction, Iowa, grower Darrell Egli, who has used the practice for about 8 years. “We had a 9-bushel response in corn last year. In general, we do notice a good response where soil-test levels are high.”
Like most foliar feeders, Egli doesn’t reduce his soil-applied fertilizer rates, but relies on foliar treatment to ensure nutrients are available at critical crop stages.
“On soybeans, foliar feeding seems to shorten the internodes and increase flowering,” Egli says. “What you really notice on corn is much deeper kernels. But with both crops, the plants just seem to have more vigor.”
Egli uses products that contain biological components, in addition to macro and micronutrients, such as FHR Farm’s Foliar Seed Set and Agri-Gro’s FoliarBlend. Two applications are normally made for soybeans — preferably at R1 and R3. For corn, one application is made at brown silk.
Saving Field Trips. Because those crop growth stages normally coincide with pesticide applications he would already be making, Egli can combine foliar applications with an insecticide or fungicide treatment — at R1 with insecticide and R2 with fungicide on soybeans, and with a fungicide application during silking on corn.
“I don’t like extra trips,” Egli says, “but usually we can manage to…