Sunday, May 1, 2011

Component Fertilizers for Foliar Fertilization

There are components for foliar fertilizer for the nutrients uptake of many crops. Some of the components are available locally in Malaysia and others are imported. The components are Synthetic Fertilizer, Organic Fertilizer, Foliar Fertilizer for organic Farming, Crop manipulation for foliar fertilizer and the best foliar fertilizer application. This article I would like to share my knowledge about components fertilizer for foliar fertilization based on few literature and hands-on experience as an extension agent for almost 30 years.

1) Synthetic Fertilizers
Most soluble conventional fertilizer materials can be used for foliar fertilization. Hot mix liquid and dry soluble formulations (e.g., Miracle-Gro™ products) are usually preferred as they are designed to be dissolved in water and contain few contaminants. Fertilizers containing significant amounts of chlorine should be avoided to reduce the chances of plant damage. Many commercial synthetic fertilizer are sold in the market in Malaysia but the most important we must get the assurance from the supplier. Note that synthetic fertilizer materials are not permitted in organic production. Any chemical application will be examined during farm visits for Sijil Organic Malaysia (SOM) as a standard procedure. The chemical content will be tested in the Departments of Agriculture Lab for approval before certification are approved.

2) Organic Fertilizers
Fish-based fertilizers (fish emulsion or fish powder) and seaweed (soluble seaweed powder or seaweed extract) are among the most common foliar feeds in organic farming. This fertilizer are applied either separately or in combination with other fertilizers. Information on these fertilizers is available as both have been in general use for many decades. Most of this category fertilizer in Malaysia are imported from China, Indonesia and only small amount locally produced. The Non-Toxic Farming Handbook by DOA or MARDI provides information on using fish-based fertilizers for both foliar and soil applications.

There are also good sources of advice on the use of fish fertilizers in departments publication. I once visited a Pomelo (Citrus grandis) farm in Segamat, Johor where a special fish-based used as one of the recommended fertilizer by their Group Farming. This fertilizer provide best quality of fruit with high sugar content about 8-11 degrees Brix compare the previous before application only about 6-8 Brix. Compost tea has become popular as a foliar spray material because of its nutrient content and disease-suppressive characteristics.

Other soluble organic materials and those from which extracts are easily made include spray-dried blood, bat guano, worm castings, manure teas, humates, molasses, milk, B vitamins and herbal extracts of plants. Several enclosures are provided that give further detail on these and other organic foliar fertilizer components.

3) Foliar Fertilization for Organic Farming
Organic growers should be cautious when purchasing commercial foliar feeding products. I know there are many foliar fertilizer product produced by small scale players and not tested in the lab as claimed at the label. Local Popular and Big Company has their own product marketed such as ACM, Bayer, Syngenta and distributed throughout the nation. So many brands with promising claims available in the market. Not all are cleared for certified production. Some have been blended with conventional fertilizer materials. Certain stimulants, bio catalysts, and other materials are also prohibited, often because they contain or are derived from genetically engineered organisms.Organic producers must be cautious when using manure- or guano-based teas.

4) Crop Manipulation through Foliar Fertilization
Fertilization strategies can influence flowering, fruit set, fruit size, the amount of vegetative growth and other plant characteristics. By carefully choosing the components of a foliar or sidedress fertilizer, the grower can "nudge" a crop toward earlier, heavier fruit set, or discourage fruiting—an advantage when producing greens or a forage crop. This concept is fairly well recognized in the conventional agricultural community. Many citrus growers, for example, are known to foliar feed with fertilizer blends dominated by potassium and nitrate—vegetative-growth-enhancing nutrients—to increase fruit size after the crop is well set. Generally speaking, fertilizer blends dominated by potassium, nitrate nitrogen, calcium, and chlorine tend to promote vegetative growth and fruit size. Blends dominated by ammonium nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, and manganese encourage the setting of fruit and seed.

While this knowledge gives the farmer more management options, one should not assume too much when trying to manipulate crop performance. All crops—but especially fruit crops—will need certain amounts of both growth- and fruit-enhancing nutrients throughout the season. Imprecise timing, or attempts to tip the balance too far, can yield disappointing and costly results. Note, too, that these manipulations can be especially difficult for certified organic producers to attempt with the smaller array of soluble fertilizer materials available for their use.

I hope the article provide few information for all readers. There are more to write about this article from my observation. The best is to use foliar fertilizer as an additional farm inputs to increase farm production as well as quality of the produce. There are many product of foliar fertilizer in the market and special promotion. Farmers should get the best advice from the extension agent if they are not sure of any foliar fertilizer product in the future. Thanks.


M Anem



1 comment:

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