Agronomy advice
10 April, 2024

Maximising your vegetable crops’ potential with foliar nutrition

With the amount of rainfall we've had, a lot of the nutrients in the soil will potentially have leached away.

Carrots in a field
Carrots in a field

Some nutrients, like nitrogen, sulphur, and boron are more readily leached than others. These nutrients have specific and essential functions in crop metabolism, and a lack of any one of them limits growth. Ensuring nutrient sufficiency is vital for optimising crop potential, and this all starts with healthy soil. 

Ensure soil conditions are right 

“In many places, the land is in poor condition. It’s slumped, it’s cold,” explains Chris. “Before you even start thinking about getting the nutrients right, you need to get the basics right. The soil needs to be in the right condition when you plant the crop, so you maximise its potential and utilise all the nutrients you’re going to invest in it. You can assess its condition and nutrient content through soil sampling.”

Alongside soil sampling, vegetable farmers can use tissue analysis to get a better idea of what is going on in their crop. 

“Tissue analysis is increasing in just about every crop, but particularly I think with high value crops like the veg crops,” says Chris. “It’s so important to get your crop nutrition right, not just for yield, but also for crop quality and storability. Tissue analysis gives you a good insight into what's happening in the crop so you can remedy any issues.”

The weather has had an impact on many aspects of vegetable production but not necessarily on a farmer’s nutrition products of choice.

“I don't think the weather will change the type of product that farmers will be using,” says Chris. “Growing vegetable crops is a very technical and professional business and farms are already set up to apply their nutrients in a particular way. They may not change the type of product they use, but they may change the grade, depending on the results from their soil samples.”

Try a tailored approach to nutrient applications 

When it comes to product applications, a vegetable crop’s nutrient requirement is divided between the base and the top or foliar dressing. The exact proportions vary depending on the crop and applications are usually split throughout the season. This allows farmers to tailor their approach to the particular crop and its potential in any given situation.

“With vegetable crops, there’s usually a programmed approach, with some nutrients going on in the base, which are topped up later in the growing season with something else,” explains Chris. “Professional vegetable growers now have got a very good understanding of what a particular vegetable crop requires through the growing season and trying to find one product to fit all isn't the right approach. A more tailored approach is the best way forward.”

A tailored approach also allows farmers to maximise nutrient use efficiency.“In the case of vegetable crops, the end users, whether that’s the supermarkets or consumers, are looking for quality all the time. Maximising nutrient use efficiency allows farmers to improve profitability by achieving that quality,” says Chris.

Maximise crop potential with foliar nutrition

The use of foliar crop nutrition as part of a tailored, complete nutrition approach is increasing. Driving this is the realisation of how important it is to get the basics right.

“Getting those macro and micronutrients right is important,” explains Chris. “Foliar nutrients are generally applied in the hundreds of grammes per hectare not in the hundreds of kilos. But they provide exactly what crops need and rectify any deficiencies that analysis has picked up. Particularly in brassica crops where we know that boron and molybdenum are important as is magnesium.”

“Within the YaraVita range of products, we have products like Brassitrel Pro, which has been specially formulated to be a ‘one can’ solution for brassica crops. But we’ve also seen that product work very nicely with other crops such as carrots and onions.”