Video: Applying Foliar Fertilizers to Soybeans

— Written By and last updated by

Should you apply a foliar fertilizer to your soybean crop this year?

NC State University’s Soybean Extension Specialist, Dr. Rachel Vann, has some important information for anyone considering this practice. Learn more in this short video:

Foliar fertilizer is a topic where we are getting more questions from growers. Due to producer interest, the NC State University Soybean Extension Program is again researching the value of foliar fertilizers for increasing soybean yields.

Map of the eastern US

Research sites in 20 locations in 13 states in 2019

In 2019 we participated in a study with 13 States across the US for a total of 20 sites. At more than 95% of those sites, when we applied various foliar fertilizer products at R3, we saw no impact on soybean yield in yield environments averaging 20 to 80 bushels per acre. This national project is managed by Univeristy of Wisconsin-Madison graduate student, Emma Matcham. A summary of the 2019 results from our national project can be found here.

Unless there is a documented nutrient deficiency in an existing crop, it is recommended by agronomists that the best way for soybeans to uptake nutrients is through the roots. Soybeans have limited capacity to uptake the level of nutrients, especially macronutrients, needed for high yields through the foliage.

Graph showing no yield benefit

We had a tough start to the 2020 soybean season in North Carolina. We had excessive moisture across parts of the state, have now moved into drought and excessive heat, and soybean prices are low; we’re looking for opportunities where we can cut costs with low-profit margins. If you are looking for ways to cut costs this year in soybeans, and there is no nutrient deficiency in your crop, removing foliar fertilizers is one of the practices that you may consider skipping this year as you think about optimizing profit.