ILSOYADVISOR POST

Early Season Foliar Feeding of Soybeans

The use of foliar fertilizers has been steadily increasing in recent years. I believe this is due to the drive to reach higher yields by more efficiently managing soybeans. 

I’ve seen some positive results using a program that can also be incorporated in a post spray pass to increase early season growth and aid plant health. For example, the combination of a ZMB (zinc-manganese-boron) product such as Helena® Axilo® BMZ along with a PGR called Receptor® can stimulate early season growth and root development. The sooner a plant gets off to a good start, the better. It generally out-yields plants that are, for some reason, behind. Zinc, manganese and boron supplemented with kinetin, gibberellic, auxin (indole-3-butyric acid or IBA) and humic acid are keys to ensuring quick early season growth and better plant health.

Let’s break down what ZMB in combination with receptors does for plants and why it is crucial to consider using an early season foliar. Zinc, the first nutrient in our ZMB product, helps maintain certain enzymes that drive metabolic reactions in the soybean plant. Growth and development would stop in absence of these enzymes. Protein and chlorophyll are reduced in deficient plants making zinc critical for early plant growth and health. Manganese, our second nutrient of ZMB, is the central element of chlorophyll which aids in photosynthesis. Manganese can also have an impact on utilization of phosphorus and can influence uniformity of maturity in plants. Boron, the last element, has the greatest effect on cell wall formation and translocation of sugars within the plants.

Receptor components consist of kinetin, gibberellic acid and auxin in combination with humic acid, a well-known carbon source. Kinetin is a cytokinin produced in root tissue, which then travels to the shoots and leaves. What’s important to remember is that nutrients will move and accumulate in plant tissue with high cytokinin levels. 

IBA assists with the promotion of lateral root development. Gibberellic acid promotes seed germination and rapid cell growth. Humic acid and its metabolism in the plant can help with the retention and breakdown of nutrients into a plant available form. When all these components are used together, they form a synergistic relationship that helps ensure faster and more vigorous early growth, something we all desire.

The best part about using a ZMB product, along with a receptor or any other plant growth regulator product that has these three main plant hormones, is that it can be applied during a post pass with herbicide. With farming becoming more and more about managing risk versus reward, I believe these product combinations are important to consider. 

With input costs being higher than ever, I look for tactics that can be incorporated into an existing pass. Both these products are compatible with most herbicides making it easy to add directly into your spray solution. This year, more than ever, it is critical to give your soybeans a great start


Brian Gordon

Gordon is a farm leader in training for Martin Family Farms at their Northfork location, a 10,000 plus sow farm just across the state line in Boswell, Indiana. He is a Certified Crop Adviser and enjoys helping growers maximize yields and profitability on their farms. Growing up on a family farm and seed production business in Rantoul, Gordon now resides in Milford with his family. He can be reached at bgordon82@ymail.com.



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