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Foliar Application Benefits of Liquid Biologicals

Foliar applying a quality liquid biological during the growing season can have numerous beneficial impacts, including:

  1. Plants can take up nutrients through the leaves (particularly through young leaves). Plants can absorb foliar sprays 8-20 times faster than soil-applied nutrients. Having beneficial microbes on leaf surfaces can help cycle nutrients like Nitrogen.
  2. Beneficial soil microbes help cycle nutrients for the plant so plants can produce secondary metabolites (sugars and amino acids) which help the plant grow stronger and more resilient.
  3. Beneficial bacteria are known to attack gram-negative fungi which helps protect the plant from harmful fungi.

foliar application

The Association of American Plant Food Control Officials (AAPFCO) includes in its list of benefits that quality compost that it:

  1. Aids in the proliferation of soil microbes,
  2. Supplies beneficial microorganisms to soils and growing media,
  3. Allows plants to more effectively utilize nutrients.

Purple Cow Organics makes some of the most consistently made and tested compost in the Midwest. Purple Cow Organics uses a patented and field-tested extraction process to get beneficial microorganisms, humic matter, and nutrients from the compost into a stable liquid solution that has a shelf life of over 6 months. This OMRI Listed liquid biological product is referred to as Purple Cow CX-1.

Gram positive bacteria consume fungal intruders like botrytis and anthracnose as a food source. This could explain why greenhouse growers who use liquid biologicals (like CX-1) often witness a reduction in botrytis; bean and row crop growers who use a “foliar” can have clean fields, even when white mold is breaking out all around them; and diversified vegetable growers can see disease pressures reduced in their operations, even when conditions are wet and humid.

If you’re already using a liquid, like fish or molasses or even some microbe-friendly fungicides, Purple Cow CX-1 has been known to be a great tank partner that can replace water if/when diluting.

Consider the following:

As the season progresses

As we move on from planting to the growing season, the biological touchpoints move from the “root zone” – where nitrogen fixing bacteria enhance root nodulation, where plants use biology to produce secondary metabolites associated with root zone protection, and where a wide range of other fertility enhancing qualities are derived “in-furrow” – to the expanded opportunities associated with beneficial microbes that can survive on plants’ leaf surfaces. These are referred to as “foliar applications”. Make no mistake, fertility enhancement is still a priority when one makes a foliar application. In fact, plants can take in fertility thru their stomata (openings in their leaf surfaces). Plants absorb foliar sprays 8 -20 times faster than soil-applied nutrients through their roots. So, fertility uptake and efficiency is still a key factor in foliar applications, but there is more…

Protection or Production

While plants have an incredible amount of energy, it is a finite amount. Plants must choose to use that energy for protection or production. Cell production to ward off pests or to fend off diseases are ways plants divert energy they could otherwise use to set fruit or enhance yields. Foliar applications can promote plant health and increase yields. Robust and diverse biology is key. Many beneficial bacteria that can survive on the leaf surfaces are “gram positive”.

Advanced testing on Purple Cow CX-1 revealed a superior, diverse, and robust microbial community. While other liquid biologicals on the market boast 8, 12, 16, or 65 microbial species, having a liquid biological that is bacterially/fungally balanced from dozens of genera (pl. genus) can mimic mother nature. Full of gram positive bacteria that feed off/consume botrytis and other fungus that can cause greenhouse and/or outdoor crop diseases, CX-1 is not registered as a fungicide. It is, however, a useful input to make your other fertility inputs more efficient and help your plants be healthier and more productive.

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