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Scientifically Proven Advantages of Foliar Fertiliser

How do plants absorb nutrients through their leaves?

I thought that was what roots are for…

  • A plant can absorb nutrients through its leaves at a quicker rate than it can through its roots!

  • Scientists, Bukovac and Morris showed in 1968 that the mechanism of nutrient penetration through the plant cell wall is by diffusion.

  • Diffusion is a natural occurring process where nutrient molecules will pass through the plant cell wall from a high concentration (outside the plant) to a low concentration (inside the plant). Thereby, becoming absorbed by the plant cell.

  • Nutrients can easily pass into the cell by:


  1.  Simple diffusion across the cell wall if the nutrient molecule is small.

  2. Facilitated diffusion through protein channels and protein carriers for larger nutrient molecules.

  3. Diffusion through the stomata of the plant’s leaves. (Stomata are small pores or openings on leaves that allow plants to “breathe.”)


  • Nutrients provided this way with foliar spray will travel through the entire plant, all the way to the roots.






Diffusion of nutrients across cell wall from high nutrient concentration outside of cell to inside cell where there is a lower nutrient concentration.




Protein channels, protein carriers and stomata allow for diffusion of nutrients into the plant leaf cells.

Scientific Facts

  • Up to 90% of a foliar-fed solution can be found in the roots of a plant within 1-hour of application.


  • Agricultural scientist S.H. Wittwer pioneered scientific studies into non-root plant feeding in the early 1950s at Michigan State University, US. He found that the uptake of various plant foods was from 100% to 900% more effective when the nutrients were applied to the leaves instead of to the soil.


  • Scientist Yamada and others in 1964 found that nutrient penetration occurs equally well through cuticles from plant surfaces with or without stomata.


  • Tests have shown that foliar feeding can be 8 to 10 times more effective than soil feeding.

​Benefits of Foliar Fertiliser

  • Lower cost and less waste

    • A lot of soil applied fertilizer may never get used by plants.

    • Water-soluble nutrients like nitrogen often get washed out of soil by rain.

    • As much as 50% of the chemical nitrogen fertilizer leaches into rivers and waterways.

    • In some soils, certain nutrients in granular fertilizers may become bound to soil particles through chemical reactions that makes these nutrients unavailable to plants. For instance, 80% of the phosphorus applied through conventional fertilizers may get locked up in the soil.

    • On the other hand, up to 80% of foliar-applied phosphorus can be directly absorbed by the plants.

    • Liquid foliar fertilizers provide readily available nutrients to plants.


  • Faster nutrient absorption

    • Foliar fertilizers are already in a dissolved form, so the nutrients are readily available for plant uptake.

    • This results in faster absorption by the plant roots compared to granular or powder fertilizers that need time to dissolve and release their nutrients into the soil.


  • Corrective nutrition

    • Foliar fertilizers are fast acting and effective for treating nutrient deficiencies.

    • Foliar uptake of nutrients is much faster than root uptake.

    • Therefore, foliar feeding is the method of choice when deficiency symptoms are noted, and quick correction of deficiencies is required.

    • Nutrients are rapidly diffused through the foliage, providing the plant with the missing nutrients, and strengthening it.


  • Growth boosting

    • Foliar fertilizer application at precise timing leads to better growth and yield improvement.

    • Certain phases of plant development are highly important in determining the final yield.

    • Foliar nutrition precisely given during these specific stages ensures optimal growth and best possible yield.

    • In relatively low concentrations at these critical stages, foliar nutrition boosts physiological processes of the plant, ensures optimal development, and contributes significantly to higher yields and better quality.

  • Complementary nutrition

    • Application of foliar fertilizers is essential when soil fertilization is sub-optimal or ineffective.

    • In many farming practices most of the fertilizers for the growth season are applied as base dressing.

    • Such practice often results in a significant decrease of essential nutrients in the soil during the season.

    • Foliar sprays of fertilizers will balance and complete plant nutrition and help to retain healthy and fruitful growth.

    • A relatively small amounts of fertilizers will lead to a dramatic improvement and will get the crops to optimal growth curves.


  • Compatibility with other inputs

    • Liquid fertilizers can be easily mixed with other liquid inputs, such as pesticides or micronutrients, making it convenient for farmers to apply multiple products simultaneously, saving time and effort.


  • Easy application and uniform nutrient distribution

    • Foliar fertilizers can be applied easily using drones that spray nutrients directly on leaves.

    • It is easier to achieve uniform distribution of nutrients across the field, ensuring consistent plant growth and avoiding patchy or uneven nutrient application that can happen with granular fertilizers.

For optimum results, always work with a foliar spray specialist when using foliar fertiliser.

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