Foliar Fertilizer


Staff member
I'm curious, does anyone sprayer fertilizer on their food plots? What formulation, and for what species? How did it work?
I have not sprayed a food plot yet, but planning on spraying compost tea (purchased in a jug from big box stores) on specific plots this year as a test.

I have sprayed my yard, and planting beds multiple times. Based on that experience, I find a formulation based on what I am trying to achieve i.e. do I want more flowering in my planting beds, root stimulation for new plantings, or general fertilizer/growth. Most foliar sprays that you can buy from different sources will have the NPK or similar breakdowns, or will give you the "what this foliar does". My main sprayings so far has been kelp/seaweed based, molasses based, or compost based. I am wholly organic in my yard (my dogs will eat whatever I put down on my yard, so why not use stuff that may already be in their food), and my yard does very well with heat/drought/cold snaps. This success here has led me to try it on my plots this year.

For my compost tea on the food plots, I have an empty 255 gallon tote that we are rigging up a homemade "drip" pvc piping system to. We will fill the tote, mix in the appropriate amount of compost tea per gallon, open the valve and drive until we emptied the tote or hit the limit for that plot, then on to the next plot.

Also, I recently watched a youtube video on a guy who builds super compost piles where he is able to capture the liquid that comes out of the pile, and applied to his plantings. I will try to find this video later today - he gives first hand accounts on his observations in the video.
I'll be interested is seeing what kind of info ends up on this thread. Thanks for asking and responding fellas.
From what I have learned about foliar applications, is they are very good at a few things, in the correct circumstances. I am not sold on them, yet, for broad-acre food plots/pastures but I am hoping to learn more and try some of my own experiments.

1. They are often formulated with a base of Humic acid - which is nice, as it is not going to have a salt/oxidizing effect on your soil - as standard fert does.

2. They are very good at feeding the plant, directly throughout various times of the year. Also delivering the exact missing unit, in an already available form. Let's take iron, for example, it is often in our soil but already in an insoluble form of ferric oxide due to years of redox reactions occurring by man, naturally high PHs, etc. If we can identify FE as the lowest hole in the bucket (Liebig's law of the minimum) - we can have a tremendous crop response, as we are giving the plant something that it was struggling to gather in chelated form - so it is readily absorbed by the plant.

3. Dr. Christine Jones referenced in a webinar that much of the compost teas, extracts, etc. are mostly just microbe food -I still see value in this, if your Carbon to Nitrogen isn't balanced in the beginning years and you need to enhance microbe activity to reduce the carbon load on the soil. Also, as we know - microbe activity increasing, with plant growth increasing and exudating - more good things happen.

All in all - I think there is some for sure value in foliar sprays but I also believe it to be highly variable on the situation.

For example, If you have a year where the deer just absolutely decimate a field, I think adding a biological primer to boost organic N, feed microbes, etc. could be beneficial - as you probably had some die-off due to the plants stopping exudation (Green Cover Seed 7th edition talks about browsing and plant exudate production when over browsed). I also think that if you have a good level of microbial activity and you just want to add a different level of bacterial activity by spraying a fish hydrolysate or something like that - you can have some fun with it - as long as your goals and expectations are aligned.

Mostly, these are highly valuable for farmers (grain and/or produce) who are taking tissue sap analysis and can pinpoint a very specific mineral that is needed to be added and do so in a readily available form.

A few last items to consider and references:
1. John Kempf - he has several videos on this
2. Dr. Christine Jones - the Nitrogen Solution
3. Mulder's Chart
4. Plant availability by PH
5. Neil Kinsey - Hands-on Agronomy

With these things in mind, we can just try to understand the balance that we can achieve without inputs and how/what will occur when inputs are used. There are both synergistic and antagonistic relationships expressed, as it pertains to nutrient availability, with darn near every decision we make with our soil. So always keep in mind the law of the minimum, but never forget the law of the maximum. A quick example of the law of maximum, too much N that is not absorbed will actually take Ca away from our soils - this can impact PH and plant health, and the representation of the %s we want in the soil colloid.

I hope this is somewhat useful!

I haven’t done my research but I have a bad feeling about liquid fertilizer.
Sure, it will probably result in more growth. But something about letting synthetic fertilizers dry on living plant foliage doesn’t seem good to me.
I feel like it would be very harmful to the beneficial microbes relative to granular fertilizer.
I’d also think that the moisture would send the nitrogen straight back to the atmosphere.
But maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about

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We're going to give it a shot on a few of our random white clover plots this weekend. (Low on P and K) They're all too small for much else. Our bigger plots have moved to diverse mixes so we don't anticipate needing to fertilizer them any more. We'll hit the nearest ag dealer to avoid the buck on bottle markup. Tune in for updates on a few weeks.
I am not all the way through this but thought I would share. REDOX chemist, specific to soil, is fascinating!

In this webinar/podcast Olivier Husson explains the EH (redox) reading of soils, as well as PH readings. What these mean and why certain elements are often in oxidized form (iron and manganese), due to the EH/PH readings of the soil. If soil is oxidized, and we add MG/FE, in an effort to make those available, it will not impact the plants positively. . The only way to add these nutrients would be in a foliar application of already available (reduced chelated) form.

Hope this is useful.