Research into the use of foliar nitrogen is under way. Andrew O’Regan has carried out glasshouse experiments as part of his PhD studies at the South East Technological University and will go to the field next season.

Farmers have a lot of questions about foliar and liquid nitrogen, so it is good to see this research going on. He presented some of the findings at the Irish Tillage and Land Use Society’s winter conference this month.

Andrew has established some basics in the glasshouse, but the real value of this research will be at field scale.


Some of the basics that Andrew pointed out are that foliar nitrogen needs to be applied little and often.

Farmer Gareth Culligan also outlined this when he described his farming practices at the conference. He explained that he does not apply more than seven units/ac at a time, as he fears he may scorch the crop at higher rates.

Gareth, who takes part in the Irish Farmers Journal Footprint farmers programme, also adds other nutrients and acids to the mix.

Andrew outlined that there may be less risk of loss to the environment by applying smaller levels of nitrogen at one time. However, granulated nitrogen is needed to establish the crop.

Protein levels

He added that protein levels were generally higher in crops treated with granular urea, as more nitrogen was available throughout the season, whereas the smaller rates of foliar fertiliser were most likely taken up closer to the time of application.

There’s certainly a lot to learn in this space.

From the outset, one clear advantage of foliar fertiliser or liquid fertiliser is accuracy of application and more precise application, which sees fertiliser applied to the crop and less fertiliser heading into hedgerows and field margins.

No doubt, farmers and industry alike will await the results eagerly.