• Foliar fertilization vs. soil fertilization


    In most cases plants absorb the most of the nutrients supplied to the soil by their root system what in the effect leads to the desired growth, plant rooting and to obtainment of high yield.  However, sometimes it may happen that nutrient uptake from soil is difficult due to physiological stresses such as drought, excessive moisture, inadequate soil pH, too low temperature.

    Insufficient rainfall precipitation as well as drought in the period of spring and summer cause that plant root systems are not able to absorb from the soil nutrients which are required to achieve satisfactory healthy crop, both in a quantitative and qualitative sense. High prices of soil fertilizers lead to a partial reduction of applied doses and result in the application of cheaper but effective foliar fertilizers in order to fill the lack of nutrients.

    Foliar fertilizers are completely soluble in water, and additionally the macro-and microelements in the form of chelate are very rapidly absorbed by plants.

    Needed nutrients are fast delivered to plants in the form of foliar fertilization during the growing season. This is especially important in case of high deficiencies in the soil and the difficulty in uptake due to inappropriate weather or mechanical conditions.

    Both macro-and micronutrients can be delivered to plants by foliar fertilization. However, due to the fact that macroelements are absorbed by plants in much higher volumes they should be delivered to the plant with the soil fertilization.

    Applying supplementary foliar fertilization can in the very fast and efficient way fill in the gap of missing nutrients in the plant and therefore it proves that it is tens of times more effective in comparison with the soil fertilization.

    The only way to support the plant at critical points of development, especially in situations requiring rapid intervention and nutritional supplement due to weather-induced stresses is not soil fertilization but application of foliar fertilizers.

    Using foliar fertilizers the losses of macro-and micronutrients (regress and leaching) are much lower than in case of application of soil fertilization. Doses of micronutrients applied as a foliar spray are 10-20 times lower than in case of soil fertilization.

  • Mineral nutrients uptake

    • Plants can absorb nutrients via above ground parts, particularly via leaves, mainly through natural parts of leaves, such as stomata and lenticels – especially in case of foliar fertilization.
    • It is important to note that absorption of nutrients via entire surface of the leaf is hampered by poorly permeable cuticles.
    • The more easy absorption of nutrients by green parts of plants is easier, the longer they stay wet after foliar fertilizer application.
    • To provide highest effectiveness of fertilization it should be performed at the stage when plants have already produced enough well-developed leaves, depending on the crop species.
    • The effectiveness of foliar fertilization also depends on weather conditions at the time of application and immediately afterwards.
    • The basic principle is to choose an appropriate concentration of fertilizer solution
    • In order to good use of microelements supplied by foliar fertilization treatment spraying cannot be carried out on a windy day, with a very intensive sunlight or during rainfall.
    • Treatments should be performed at the temperature range 10-20° C in order to guarantee the full and efficient use of nutrients supplied by foliar treatments.  
    • During sunny days the treatment should be carried out either early in the morning or in the evening, so the treated plants may absorb the compound for the longest possible period of time what has a positive impact on the retrieval of micronutrients.
    • In case of foliar fertilization both the absorption and the introduction of macro-and micronutrients to above ground plant parts are very quick what effectively prevent the development of diseases and the reduction of yield.
    • In order to obtain the best results, foliar feeding should be performed during cloudy weather, early in the morning or in the evening, when leaf tissues are relaxed and therefore the nutrients can easily get into the plant.

  • The role of micronutrients

    Micronutrients stimulate all the plant biological processes. Microelements are absorbed by plants in small volumes, i.e. from few grams to few kilograms from one hectare.  

    B – Boron

    Boron supports  nutrients transport and carbohydrate metabolism. It has  positive effects on plants life processes , cell division, cell growth. It is also involved in formation of cell walls.
    Boron increases frost resistance.
    The main role of this nutrient is the support of root system development.  Poorly created root system and empty spaces in root tissue are the result of boron deficiency.
    The further result of boron deficicny is  low water uptake and small cell space, where nutrients are stored and used at the beginning of vegetation.
    Quality and amount of sugar in sugarbeet root, increase of starch level in potatoes’ bulbs, fat level in oilseeds, flowering and fructification also depend on boron level. 

    Boron deficiency symptoms

    Due to the lack of this component products of photosynthesis are not discharged into the meristematic tissue what cause the inhibition of plant growth especially root system, rape frost resistance.
    Boron uptake can be reduced because of high soil acidity( pH above 6,5 which is ideal for rape cultivation) as well as on light dry soil chatacterised by too little water capacity. 
    Poorly developed root system and empty spaces in root tissue are the result of boron deficiency.
    That causes low water uptake and small cell space where nutrients are stored and used at the beginning of vegetation.
    Boron deficiency in fruit orchards inhibit  flower buds development and early flower and fruit buds dropping. That stimulates ethylene production as well as skin russeting, fruit cracking, parenchyma (flesh, pulp) suberisation and storage properties deterioration.

    Cu –Copper

    Copper has a positive effect on the synthesis and stability of plant proteins. It also take part in the synthesis of green component of chlorophyll during the photosynthesis and respiration.

    Copper deficiency symptoms

    Deficiencies of this component causes weak woodiness of mechanical and external tissue cell walls leading to lodging, increasing susceptibility to disease and low temperatures. Due to the fact that copper is a very little active compound the deficiencies are the most visible on the youngest plants, the leaves change their colour to white and gray and as an effect they become twisted. Symptom of copper deficiency in cereal crops is chlorosis on leaves, i.e. leaves and ears are bleaching, what leads to dryness of blades and finally it can lead to lodging which results in the reduction of both yield quantity and quality.

    Mo – Molybdenum

    Molybdenum is responsible for transformation of nitrogen to nitrate ( it is a part of a nitrate reductase enzyme that participates in the reduction of nitrate collected by the plant that is needed to process the nitrogen incorporation in protein structures )and transformation of phosphorus  preventing intensification of inorganic phosphorus in the plant, which is a part of the organic wall structure of products, impact on chlorophyll production and counteracts stress-occurring conditions such as drought, disease and increase plant hardiness
    Molybdenum is involved in vitamine C production and iron assimilation.

    Molybdenum deficiency symptoms

    Molybdenum deficiency is responsible for leaf lambia growth inhibitation and chlorosis on young leaves causing ear deformity. The inhibit of growth and nitrate content increase in plant is a further result.

    Mn – Manganese

    Manganese is involved in oxidation and reduction processes in plants.
    Due to physiological function of manganese in plants it is responsible for photosynthesis processes, nutrients uptake and assimilation. It also regulates plant hormone economy, synthesizes proteins, prevents from excessive nitrate storage in plants.

    Manganese deficiency symptoms

    Chlorosis between veins is a result of manganese deficiency in soils of pH above 6,5.
    Excessive amount of this chemical element in very acid soils is toxic for plants

    Zn – Zinc

    Zinc is a component of enzymes,  it participates in the metabolism of amino acids and in the the formation of proteins and growth hormones, it also takes part in metabolism processes.

    Zinc deficiency symptoms

    It  is responsible for the proper growth and development of plants and its deficiency results in the inhibition of the elongation of internodes or in plant growth inhibition.

    It is the most desirable component in crops of maize, oil-seed rape, wheat and sugar beet. Fruit crops also require adequate zinc level for the formation and development of flower buds.

    Fe – Iron

    Iron is an important chlorophyll component,  it also takes part in fatty acids metabolism.

    Iron deficiency sympthoms

    Iron deficiency are usually found in the youngest leaves, plant parts as it is very poorly moved from older to younger organs due to its strong binding. The characteristic and easy to diagnose symptoms are bleaching spots between veins commonly called chlorosis.  The growth of plants is also slowed down due to the reduced photosynthetic activity. At some extreme cases growth tops may die.

  • The role of macroelements

    Macroelements are absorbed by plants in relatively large quantities, ie, from a dozen to several hundred kilograms of 1 hectare

    N – Nitrogen  

    Nitrogen is an essential and basic macronutrient for plants. It is a component of protoplasm as well as protein.Nitrogen is crucial in the production of vegetative biomass. Phosphorus and potassium also influence the beneficial effects of nitrogen fertilization. Deficiencies of nitrogen in the plant slows down the processes of photosynthesis and physiological functions.
    Plants are weak, small in size, the leaves are small, light-coloured yellow-green in colour. Nitrogen is a component of proteins and nucleic acids. It stimulates the growth of underground and aboveground parts of plants, giving them intense green colour.

    Nitrogen deficiency symptoms

    Vegetative parts devoid of firmness which is the result of chlorophyll production reduction. Plants suffering from nitrogen deficiency are limp, their internodes are elongated and  extensive root system is present. Growth of plants is inhibited, leaves are characteristically smaller and lighter in colour. Excess of nitrogen causes too intensive growth with lots of dark green leaves and undeveloped root system. It is one of the most important macroelements responsible for plant health, crop quality and yield.

    P – Phosphorus

    Phosphorus is one of the universal nutrients. It is a component of organic compounds and therefore it is used for energy storage and  plants metabolism. Transport of phosphorus  in the plant is very poor what can cause deficiency of this element. High concentration of this element in plants stimulates intensive root system growth and in effect improves yield.

    Phosphorus deficiency symptoms

    Phosphorus deficiency inhibits nucleic acids and proteins production which leads to the deterioration of metabolism and growth inhibition. High concentration of phosphorus stimulates: root growth (improving absorption of water and nutrients from the soil), promotion of cereals, an increase in the number of produced seeds, the mechanical structure of stems and shorten the maturation of plants. In case of phosphorus deficiency the plant growth is inhibited and the plant darkens. Symptoms are visible on older leaves which at first turn yellow and later become reddish. An effect of poor root system is small amount of branches, the stems are harder and the plant matures later.

    K – Potassium

    Potassium is an easily distributed element in the plant and it is moved between vegetative organs. It is absorbed in large quantities both from the soil as well as through the green aboveground parts. At the time of intenseive growth and development of plants it is mainly stored in vegetative parts such as  leaves, stems, branches. Potassium regulates the plant water balance, it is responsible for proper turgor, stomalas control, proper functioning of photosynthesis and distribution of assimilates, carbohydrates such as starch (in potato production) and sugar (sugar beet cultivation). This element also increases the resistance to bacterial plant diseases and lodging.

    Potassium deficiency symptoms

    The characteristic symptoms of potassium deficiency is a leaf colour change from dark green into bluish and later progressing into necrotic spots between veins. The growth and development are inhibited (shortening of internodes, growth poor and thin) and as a result whole plants dry up. In pome fruit crops the symptoms of potassium deficiency are very visible due necrosis at the edges of leaves placed on long shoots. The excess of potassium can cause a possible deficiency of magnesium, zinc or iron.

    Ca – Calcium

    Calcium is a basic nutrient for plants. This component serves as a part of the building blocks of the walls of cell membranes where it is stored in most of its content in the plant and in combination with pectins and cellulosic compounds it creates stability and a kind of “tightness” and the high strength of cell walls and it therefore increases the resistance of pathogens attack occurring during adverse weather conditions. An increase of calcium content in cells reduces the phenomenon of plants lodging giving them a high stability. In addition, calcium influences the development and growth of the root system.

    Calcium deficiency symptoms

    Calcium deficiencies appear on acidic soils. Calcium also takes part in nutrients transport within the plant. It can be transported for not long distances within proteins being part of cell membranes in proteins that are part of cell membranes. Calcium is transported together with water via xylen to fruit, which are nourished with this component at the lowest level as processes of transpiration occur with difficulty. Calcium is a macroelement which counteracts physiological diseases in the cultivation of fruits and vegetables such as bitter pit in apples, cabbage heads internal rot, marginal leaf decay of cabbage leaves called “TIPBURN” or in the cultivation of tomatoes and peppers blossom end rot.

    Mg – Magnesium

    Magnesium is an activator of many enzymes involved in biochemical processes, including respiration, regulates the pH level in plant cells, it is responsible for the accumulation of sugars in plants, it is a major component of chlorophyll regulating carbon dioxide assimilation process displaying as a green colour of leaves, it participates in the processes of phosphorylation (ADP and ATP), enhances both the size and colour of fruit. Transportation takes place in xylen and in phloem and its mobility is at a high level.

    Magnesium deficiency symptoms

    Deficiencies can be easily noted as they start from the edges of the leaf blade and later move into the further surface of the leaf. Magnesium deficiency causes inhibition of plant growth and development as the process of photosynthesis is worse due to the lack of an appropriate amount of chlorophyll, which includes magnesium. Most often deficiencies occur on older leaves causing chlorosis between veins, called leaf marbling. Magnesium deficiency symptoms are the most visible early in the spring on spring cereals fields.

    S – Sulphur

    Sulphur occurs in amino-acids such as cysteine, cystine, methionine, and it is a very important component in the processes of chlorophyll and protein formation. In case of sulphur  absence in the plant the protein content declines which causes inhibition of plant growth and development as well as the decrease in the quantity and quality of crop yield. Sulphur takes part in the process of photosynthesis and associates atmospheric nitrogen from the air, the synthesis of lignin during the entire growing season, the synthesis of fat in seeds maturing process.
    Three groups of plants in terms of demand for sulfur can be identified:


    • plants with a high demand for sulphur, such as rape, turnips, brassicas, radish, onion, garlic,
    • plants with an average demand for sulphur, such as alfalfa, clover
    • plants with a low demand for sulphur as grain and root crops

    Sulphur deficiency symptoms

    Due to low level of sulphur nitrogen is not involved in protein metabolism, what can result in plant poisoning. Not enough sulphur available for plants may result in worse nitrogen absorption from the soil and inhibition of its circulation in the plant. As a result of this process the content of nitrate in plants increases what at high concentrations is poisonous to plant. First symptoms of sulphur deficiency appear on the youngest leaves as sulphur is poorly transported in the plant from the older part of the newly formed organic parts. Young leaves are “bleaching” and become bent like a spatula. Inflorescences contain fewer flowers and the flowers are clearly brighter sometimes even become white in colour. Pods contain fewer seeds.


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