Foliar feeding is often considered a quick and easy solution for addressing plant nutrient deficiencies. However, understanding the intricacies of foliar fertilizers is crucial to avoid potential pitfalls and ensure optimal results. 

This article will debunk common myths surrounding foliar fertilizers, shed light on their effectiveness, and emphasize the importance of precision in application. 

As we explore the topic, we will specifically focus on the benefits of foliar fertilizers for plants.

Myth 1: Foliar Fertilizer Replaces Soil Fertilizers

Contrary to popular belief, foliar fertilizer does not totally replace the need for soil fertilizers. Plants primarily absorb nutrients through their roots, and it is extremely difficult for foliar spray alone to provide the complete nutrition necessary for maximum yields and plant health. 

The leaf’s waxy cuticle acts as a barrier, hindering nutrient uptake. However, during peak demand periods or when soil conditions limit nutrient availability, targeted application of a suitable foliar fertilizer can augment plant nutrition and enhance yields during peak demand periods or when soil conditions limit nutrient availability. 

With a comprehensive foliar nutrition plan in place, however, we can reduce a substantial portion of the up-front fertility that conventional agronomy would recommend. This in turn mitigates other issues that usually occur such as lodging and foliar disease, to name a few, as well as limits your upfront financial risk from drought or heavy rains early on.

Myth 2: Foliar Fertilizer Burns Plant Leaves 

While it is true that plants can experience “fertilizer burn” if they receive excessive nutrients through their leaves, this can be mitigated or even eliminated by using the proper form of nutrition and by following proper application guidelines. Fertilizer burn occurs when excess fertilizer salts accumulate, drawing water away from the roots and tissues. 

To avoid this, it is recommended to spray foliar nutrients during overcast and cool days, with early morning or after sunset being the best practice but definitely when temperature is below 25 degrees Celsius. In addition, adjuncts such as water conditioners like Optimize, as well as including Fulvic Acid. By adopting the right approach, foliar feeding becomes a valuable component of a comprehensive fertility program, correcting deficiencies, improving yields, and enhancing seed or feed quality.

Myth 3: Foliar Fertilizer is Only Effective for Flowering Plants 

Originally discovered in the 1950s, the concept of nutrient absorption through leaves revolutionized plant care. Foliar fertilizers, typically water-soluble and composed of micronutrients, growth hormones, vitamins, and amino acids, offer a solution to provide nutrients that roots cannot access. 

They are especially beneficial for supporting crops during stress or suboptimal growing conditions. However, it is important to note that foliar feeding should not replace regular soil testing and fertilizer application; instead, it should serve as a supplement to ensure plants receive the necessary nutrition efficiently.

Myth 4: Foliar Fertilizer is Less Effective than Soil Fertilizers 

It is crucial to understand that foliar feeding can only supplement the nutrients made available by a healthy soil environment; it cannot totally replace soil fertilization. Foliar applications excel when soil conditions restrict nutrient availability, such as high pH soils that limit iron uptake. 

They also provide quick-fix solutions for deficiencies that cannot be easily corrected through soil application alone. Remember, it is easier to correct a nutrient deficiency than it is to deal with an excess.  By utilizing foliar sprays specifically formulated for different crops, whether it’s cereal crops, canola or hay/pasture land, farmers can enhance plant performance and rectify nutrient imbalances effectively.

Myth 5: Foliar Fertilizer Harms the Environment 

Contrary to concerns about environmental impact, foliar fertilizers are applied as liquid solutions to plant leaves, utilizing high-grade technical elements. Unlike dry, soil-applied fertilizers that require rain to dissolve and become available to plants, foliar sprays directly deliver nutrients. For crops sensitive to nutrient depletion or those prone to iron chlorosis under high soil pH conditions, foliar applications are essential for correcting deficiencies. With foliar fertility, you are directly injecting nutrients into the crop, practically eliminating any chance of runoff or volatilization. In fact, university trials have shown this method to be 17 times more efficient for applying P than applying it in the ground conventionally.

Additionally, foliar feeding addresses nutrient uptake issues caused by wet, compacted, or poor soil conditions. However, it’s important to emphasize that foliar feeding is a supplement to, not a total replacement for soil-applied fertilizers.


Debunking common myths surrounding foliar fertilizers sheds light on their true potential as a valuable component of plant nutrition. While foliar feeding cannot fully replace soil fertilization, it offers targeted solutions for addressing nutrient deficiencies during peak demand or challenging soil conditions. Following regular soil testing and fertilization practices, foliar fertilizers can enhance plant health, increase yields, and optimize fruit quality.

For farmers in Alberta and western provinces and states seeking reliable agricultural solutions, Fabian Seed Farms is your trusted partner for the greater Alberta area farmers seeking reliable agricultural solutions. As a fourth-generation family-owned and operated seed farm, we prioritize maximizing your net profits through a holistic and environmentally sustainable approach. We have been successfully using foliar fertility for the past 12 years and have the experience to help you achieve that success as well.

Our expertise lies in combining conventional and organic practices, ensuring high-yield potential through balanced nutrition. Furthermore, we offer industry-leading liquid fertility and biological products, including effective foliar fertilizers, to guide you in making well-informed decisions throughout the growing season. Experience the difference with Fabian Seed Farms and witness the benefits of precision nutrition agriculture firsthand.

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