What’s the difference between foliar and basal fertilizers?

Photo by Balazs Simon from Pexels.

When it comes to optimizing plant growth, fertilizers can be a farmer’s best friend. If you’re exploring fertilizers or have already used them before, you’ve probably heard of foliar and basal fertilizers. But what exactly makes them different from each other?

How do they differ?

It’s simple. Foliar, as its name implies, is sprayed on the plants’ foliage, which are the leaves, while basal fertilizer is applied to the plants’ base, which is the soil. 

Another major difference is that foliar fertilizers are liquid, whereas basal fertilizers can come in solid or in powdered form.


In the Department of Agriculture’s Fertilizer Regulatory Policies and Implementing Guidelines, foliar fertilizer is described as “the most effective means of fertilizer application when [a] problem of soil fixation exists. The most important use of foliar sprays has been in the application of micronutrients.” 


Some examples of natural liquid fertilizers or foliar sprays are Fermented Fruit Juice (FFJ), Fish Amino Acid (FAA), and compost tea.

Millennial farmer and founder of MNL Grow Kits Carlo Sumaoang mentioned in one AgriTalk episode that one of the best basal fertilizers is processed animal dung since it is high in nutrients, which the plants need for them to grow. This does not have a foul smell, too, assuming they have been properly decomposed or processed.

READ: Some tips on fertilization and pest management

Plants can get nutrients through their leaves and roots, so with proper usage, these two fertilizers can help farmers boost the productivity of their crops.

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Vina Medenilla
Vina Medenilla is a content producer for Agriculture Monthly magazine. She is a graduate from Miriam College with a bachelor’s degree in Communication. Fashion, photography, and travel are some of the things she loves. For her, connection with nature is essential to one’s life.

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