M. Mithal Jiskani
Assistant Professor (Plant Pathology)
Faculty of Crop Protection, Sindh Agriculture University
scientists are day night busy; to evolve high yielding
crop varieties and introduce most easy and economical
crop production technology, for fulfillment of the food
requirements of the population, growing up very fast.
They have conducted various studies world over and
reveals that Soil Analysis, Land Preparation, Sowing
time and methodologies, Irrigation, Interculturing,
Thinning, Fertilizer application and Crop protection
techniques are basic principles and necessities. Among
these, fertilizers play a vital role, because regular
cultivation results nutritional deficient soils and the
cultivation in nutritionally poor soils not only result
slow growth process but weak plants easily hit by insect
pests and diseases also. Therefore, fertilizer
application become compulsory similar to food
supplements and multivitamin and mineral supplements as
are necessary for human being.
Traditionally only organic and or some inorganic
fertilizers are used to enrich soils with basic macro
nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium
(NPK). Gypsum is also now commonly used to improve
saline soils or zinc is applied in zinc deficient soils
in case of rice cultivation. The micro nutrients are
totally ignored by near about all illiterate and the
growers having no or very less interest in cropping.
Whereas, all 16 macro and micro nutrients are equally
important for all crops (living plants and trees), for
normal growth, development and production. Otherwise,
the crop may initially produce the symptoms of such
deficiency and in case of ignorance; the pests and
diseases may easily hit the poorly developing plants and
trees due to less resistance or more susceptibility in
nutrition deficit plants or trees.
However, the yield of our crops is not satisfactory in
all over Pakistan as well as many other countries of the
world due to many constraints. Among those, fertilizer
management plays an important role for obtaining
satisfactory yield. In order to increase crop
productively nutrient management may be achieved by the
involvement of organic sources, biofertilizers and
micronutrients (Singh and Kalloo, 2000).
Modern crop fertility programs are complex in nature,
resulting from the interactions of many factors. One
important factor is fertilizer cost, which is a large
portion of the crop production expenses. Application of
unneeded nutrients contributes to farming inefficiency
and ground water pollution (Hochmuth and Hanlon, 2005).
The balanced nutrients have been paid little attention
in agriculture areas of developing world. The
deficiencies of micronutrients have emerged in the
farmerís field and are recognized as symptoms on foliage
and reduction in the quality and yield of the crop. The
benefit of micronutrients is not limited solely to the
replenishment of the micronutrient itself but in
addition micronutrient acts as catalyst in the uptake
and use of certain macronutrients (Phillips, 2004).
Recently, foliar fertilizers are widely used in
vegetable and fruit crops, that contain various macro
and micronutrients, which are essential for the proper
growth and yield. Foliar fertilizer technology came into
use early in this century, but did not become more
common practice. After 1980s, the application of foliar
fertilizers is the quickest way to deliver nutrients to
the tissues and organs of the crop, and is proved that
application of these micronutrients is beneficial to
correct certain nutrient deficiencies (Anonymous, 2001).
Foliar feeding is the practice of applying liquid
fertilizers to plant leaves. The leaves are green
factories where the complex chemical processes of
photosynthesis produce the compounds, plants needed for
growth. Foliar fertilizers are absorbed right at the
site where they are used as quite fast acting, whereas,
much of the soil fertilizers may never get used by
plants. For instance, 80% of the phosphorus applied
through conventional fertilizers may get fixed up in the
soil, but, up to 80% of foliar-added phosphorus directly
absorbed by the plants (Donelon, 2005). Silberbush
(2002) stated that foliar fertilization is widely used
practice to correct nutritional deficiencies in plants
caused by improper supply of nutrients to roots. Ca and
B which are immobile in the plant should be applied in
small amounts at high frequency rather than in one
application for correcting temporary deficiencies in
vegetables (Maynard and Hochmuth, 1996).
Bhonde et al. (1995) evaluated the effect of zinc,
copper and boron on onion crop. Bulb size and yield as
well as quality of bulb enhanced when micronutrients
were applied in combination instead of alone. The foliar
application of zinc 3 ppm, copper 1 ppm and boron 0.5
ppm were found to give maximum net return to the growers
Pascua, et al. (1996) applied Green Bee All Purpose and
Growth Booster foliar fertilizers to explore the
possibility of substituting soil applied fertilizer with
foliar fertilizer on garlic plants. They reported that
the plants fertilized with Ĺ fertilizer recommendation
and supplemented with Green Bee All Purpose + Growth
Booster were tallest, most vigorous, produced heaviest
bulbs and gave the highest yield per hectare.
Naruka and Singh (1998) applied two concentrations of
urea sprays (1 and 2%) and three concentrations of
gibberellic acid (GA3) spray (50, 100 and 150 ppm); both
urea and gibberellic acid application enhanced the
growth and fruit yield of okra significantly. Tumbare,
et al. (1999) applied NPK at recommended rate as solid
fertilizer and as liquid fertilizer; the yield and yield
component values increased with increasing fertilizer
rate by liquid as compared to conventional application.
Whereas, Palaniappan et al. (1999) applied N and K
fertilizers (100 and 75% of recommended rate), Multi-K
and Polyfeed (Both at 1%) foliar fertilizers and the
combination of these two fertilizer sets on tomato. The
application of 100% NK + 2 sprays of Polyfeed (30 and 45
days after sowing, DAS) + 3 sprays of Multi-K (60, 75
and 90 DAS) gave the highest tomato fruit yield,
marketable yield, net income and benefit cost ratio.
Similarly for chili, the treatment of 100% NK +3 sprays
of Polyfeed + 2 sprays of Multi-K produced the highest
number of fruits per plant, dry fruit yield, net income
and benefit cost ratio. Increasing the frequency of
Polyfeed spraying from 3 to 4 times do not increased the
number of chili fruits per plant. Souza et al. (1999)
applied kumulus (containing sulfur) at 4 kg/ha to see
the effect on cotton crop. Treatments with increased
sulfur produced 11.5% more cottonseed then the untreated
Naruka et al. (2000) studied the effect of foliar
application of zinc and molybdenum through foliar spray
at 0.2, 0.4 and 0.6% and 30, 60 and 90 ppm,
respectively. Increasing zinc and molybdenum levels
resulted in increasing plant height, number of fruits,
fruit diameter and fruit yield. However, increasing
levels resulted increasing in growth and height fruit
yield. Selvi and Rani, (2000) reported that okra plants
were treated with NPK (40: 50: 30 kg/ha) alone, NPK +
micronutrients (MNS; soil application of FeSO4 at 50
kg/ha and Zn SO4 at 25 kg/ha, or foliar spraying of
FeSO4 at 1.0% and ZnSO4 at 0.5%) or foliar and soil
application of microfood (SMF, 750 and 25 kg/ha,
respectively). The highest yield, income and benefit
cost ratio were recorded from NPK+SMF and MNS foliar
treatment; whereas, lowest yield among the treated
plants was recorded from the single NPK treatment.
Barge (2001) used the foliar fertilizers, ElamMax (27%
Mn) at 0.5 pints/acre, Folizyme (12% N, 3% K, 3% Ca and
3% Mn) at 2q/acre, Keylate (5% Mn) at 2 pints/acre,
White Label (6% Mn) at 2 pints/acre and Harvest More
Urea Mate (N, P, K, Ca, Mg, B, Co, Cu, Mn, Mo and Zn) at
5 ponds/acre. All treatments resulted in higher yields
of soybean than the control. Bajapai and Chauhan (2001)
worked on effect of zinc, boron and manganese and
reported that all treatments significantly improved the
performance of okra in terms of number of fruits per
plant, fresh and dry fruit weight, seed per fruit and
Singh, et al. (2002) reported that bulb diameter, bulb
size index, total soluble solids, dry matter weight 20
bulbs, and gross and marketable yield of onion were
highest with basal application of NPK and foliar
application of 1% Multi-K 30, 45 and 60 days after
planting. Katkar et al. (2002) conducted an experiment
to study the effect of foliar sprays of nutrients and
chemicals on yield and quality of cotton. Results
indicated that the foliar application of different
nutrients and chemicals significantly increased
seedcotton yield by 38.7, 37.1, 31.3 and 21.2% over
control. Naresh and Singh (2002) conducted study on the
effect of zinc (0.2, 0.4 and 0.6 %), copper (0.1, 0.2
and 0.3%) and boron (0.1. 0.2 and 0.3%) on the yield
components of litchi plants and observed significant
improvement in fruit set, normal fruit, cracked fruits
and fruit maturity in the treated plants over control.
Mishra et al. (2003) also observed significant
improvement in chlorophyll content and fresh weight of
kinnow treated with zinc, iron and boron. Chattopadhyay
et al. (2003) applied B at 0.28, 0.56 and 1.12 kg/ha and
Mo at 0.1, 0.2 and 0.4 kg/ha alone or in combination (as
single or double) to okra cv Pusa Sawani in field
experiment. Mo at 0.4 kg/ha resulted in the highest
yield of 223.18 q/ha, while B at 0.56 kg/ha produced the
highest yield of 222.71 q/ha. B at 1.12 kg/ha + Mo at
0.2 kg/ha produced the highest yield of 229.37 q/ha.
Alkaff and Hassan (2003) determined the effect of foliar
application 0, 2, 4, 6g of power 4 on the growth and
yield of okra plants. Foliar application of 4g of power
4/litre had the highest value for fresh and dry weight,
number of pods per plant, average yield, average pod
weight and early yield. Sharaf and El-Naggar, (2003)
conducted field experiment to record the response of
carnation plant to phosphorus and boron foliar
fertilization. The results showed that foliar
application of P2O5 alone or in combination with
different levels of B stimulated the length, diameter
and dry weight of stem, number and dry weight of leaves
per branch as well as enhanced flowering time, number,
size and dry weight of flower per plant. The best
results of vegetative growth and flowering
characteristics were obtained at 200 mg P2O5 per liter
plus 50mg B per liter.
Tuncay et al. (2004) investigated the effects of
Superalg, NZN, Croptec and Polyfeed foliar fertilizers
on yield and quality related characters of sunflower.
They had significant effects on seed yield, seed height,
seed/husk ratio, oil content, plant height, seed dry
matter and stem yield (P<0.01). The best results were
obtained from Croptec and Polyfeed fertilizers. However,
according to economic analysis, NZN application had the
highest gross margin per hectare. Alexander, et al.
(2004) applied Boron (B) through Disodium Octaborate
Tetrahydrate (DOT) in the form of Solubor as foliar
spray @ 1.5g/l twice at 15 days interval and calcium
(Ca) through Calcium Nitrate (CN) as Hydro Calcium
Nitrate as soil application to supply top dressed N,
twice @ 30 kg/acre. Among the various treatments, foliar
spray of DOT with soil application of CN gave maximum
yield of 20.93 t/acre and had a long shelf life of 12
days in comparison to control where yield of 16.63 t/ac
and a shelf life of 4 days were recorded.
However, many other experiments have been carried out on
the effect of commercial foliar fertilizers alone and in
combination with recommended NPK levels, on growth and
yield potential of different crops. The results showed
significant differences with reference to the data
recorded on days taken to flowering, plant height,
number of branches per plant, number of fruits per
plant, fruit length, fruit weight per plant, fruit yield
per hectare, fruit quality and cost benefit ratio.
Foliar fertilizers are fast acting because these are
absorbed right at the site where they are used. Foliar
feeding of these fertilizers not only replenishment of
micronutrients but, also act as catalyst in the uptake
and use of certain macronutrients. Hence, where the crop
is going to be sown in low fertile soils, these foliar
applications must be applied.
Available literature indicates that in Pakistan,
deficiencies of micronutrients have been emerged in most
of the farmerís fields due to little attention; but very
little work has been done locally on commercial foliar
fertilizers. It is therefore concluded and the growers
are advised to use and or include foliar fertilizers in
combination with recommended NPK for obtaining healthy,
early and high yielding crop with good fruit quality.
The researchers are also suggested to conduct further
experiments on all available foliar fertilizers and also
research required to test other aspects of these
products alone and in combination with NPK on growth and
yield parameters of crops under agro-ecological
conditions of Pakistan.
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M. S. Mithyantha. 2004. Effect of application of boron
and calcium on yield and shelf life of tomato
(Lycopersicum esculentum). IFA, International Symposium
on micronutrients. 23-25 Feb. 2004, New Delhi, India
Alkaff, H. A and A. A. Hassan. 2003. Effect of
biofertilizer, organic fertilizer and foliar application
of power 4 on the growth and yield of okra plants. J.
Natural and applied Sci., 7 (2): 25-35
Anonymous, 2001. Foliar fertilizers vegetrain 01-01. A
vegetables crops Ext. Pub. of Florida.
www.hos.ufl.edu/vegetarion. Date of download:
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boron and manganese on yield in okra (Abelmoschus
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Bhonde. S. R., L. Ram, U. B. Pandey and H. N. Tiwari.
1995. Effect of micronutrients on growth, yield and
quality of kharif onion. National Hort. Res. and
Development Foundation Newsletter. 15 (1): 16-20
Barge, G. L. 2001. Foliar fertilizer applications for
soybean production. Special circular, 197: 71-73
Chattopadhyay, S. B., T. P. Mukhopadhyay and U. Thapa.
2003. Response of foliar feeding of boron and molybdenum
on growth and yield of okra in Terai Zone of West
Bengal. Environment and ecology., 21 (3): 702-705
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www.edis.ifas.ufl.edu.com. Date of download: 04-01-2005.
Katkar, R. N, A. B. Turkhade, U. M. Solanke, S. T.
Wankhade and B. A. Sakhare. 2002. Effect of foliar
sprays of nutrients and chemicals on yield and quality
of cotton under rainfed condition. Res. On crops, 3(1):
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Mishra, L. N., H. C. Sharma and S. K. Singh. 2003.
Foliar cholorophyll contents in kinnow mandarin as
affected by micro-nutrients (Zn, Fe, B) and rootstocks.
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micronutrients spray on fruit cracking and fruit
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potassium fertilizers in a southern Guinea savannah
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Response of tomato and chili to foliar application of
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Pascua, M. E., M. L. S. Gabriel and B. S. Malab. 1996.
Foliar fertilizer as a supplement to soil applied
fertilizer in garlic. Philippine J. Crop Sci., 21 (1):
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micronutrients for the farmer and the fertilizer
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micronutrients. 23-25 Feb. 2004, New Delhi, India
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management on yield and economics of okra in an
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carnation plant to phosphorus and boron foliar
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Silberbush, L. F. 2002. Response of maize to foliar vs.
soil application of nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium
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Singh, D. K., A. K. Pandey, U. B. Pandey and S. R.
Bhonde. 2002. Effect of farmyard manure combined with
foliar application of NPK mixture and micronutrients on
growth, yield and quality of onion. Newsletter-National
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Souza, E. C. A, A. Borgo, M. Scatolin and A. C. C.
Santos. 1999. Foliar fertilizing with sulfur in cotton.
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Courtesy: The writter is parmanent contributer of