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Soil Rejuvenation versus Foliar Fertilizer on Oats

Updated: May 25, 2023

Research Coordinator: Dr. Akim Omokanye

Collaborator: Lloyd & MacKay Ross, Cleardale (Clear Hills County)

From: Peace Country Beef & Forage Association 2013 Annual Report

The mineral nutrients, which come from the soil, are dissolved in water and absorbed through a plant's roots. There are not always enough of these nutrients in the soil for a plant to grow healthy. One approach is to provide required nutrients to each crop in a soluble form that plants can use immediately, i.e., feed the plant. The advantage to this approach is the opportunity to quite accurately meet a crop’s need. There has been an increase in the number of foliar fertilizers on the agricultural chemical market in recent years. These can be used to correct nutrient deficiencies in plant parts such as leaves and fruit. If soil pH is not limiting nutrient availability, root health and growth are not restricted, and transport of the nutrient in the crop is not restrict-ed, soil applications of fertilizers are also very efficient methods. The present trial examined different sources of soil, seed germination and foliar nutrients on grain production, forage yield and quality of two oat varieties.


The trial was carried out in Cleardale (RGE Rd 102 TWP Rd 850) on 40 acres. Glyphosate was used as the pre-seed burn off. Two oat varieties Athabasca (20 acres) and CDC SO-I (20 acres) were seeded on May 17/18, 2013 @ 2.1 bushels/acre with a John Deere drill at 7.5 inches row spacing. Fertility following soil test was 209 lb/acre of fertilizer blend (28.7-14.4-0.0-7.2). Both oats seeds were treated with CruiserMaxx® Vibrance® (cereals seed treatment insecticide/fungicide) before seeding.

The following 5 spraying treatments (4 acres/treatment) were applied to each oat variety:

  • Control (check)

  • Best Soil Rejuvenation (Best Soil Rej) @ 100 ml/acre - sprayed (after seeding but before seed emergence) on May 24, 2013

  • Best Foliar fertilizer (Best FF) for crop (15% N – 25% P – 8% K) - sprayed on June 22, 2013, just over a month following seeding

  • Best Seed germination (Seed Germ) @ 100 ml/acre - treated with seed just before seeding.

  • GSR Ca was sprayed (a few days after seeding but before seed emergence) on May 24.

Results and Discussion

Plant Height and Moisture Content

Generally, the addition of nutrients (Best products and GSR Ca) improved the growth of oat varieties as determined by plant height (see Figure 1). But plant height was better generally with Best Seed Germination than with other treatments. The Athabasca oat grew taller than CDC SO-I for every treatment even for the check. The taller growth of Athabasca than CDC SO-I probably has to do with the genetic make up of the variety. When the oats were treated with Best Seed Germination, Athabasca grew taller by 15.3 cm over check. For CDC SO-I oat, when treated with Best Seed Germination plant height was higher by 10.0 cm over check. The benefits observed with Best Seed Germination for both oats suggest the need for treating oats seeds before seeding for the purpose of good seedling vigor and subsequent crop growth.

The moisture content of oats at harvest for green feed appeared to be slightly higher with additional nutrients (except for Best Soil Rej for CDC SO-I) (Figure 2). For CDC SO-I oat, moisture content was highest (66.8%) with Best FF. While for Athabasca oat, highest moisture content at harvest (66.8%) was with Best Soil Rej.

Forage DM Yield

The DM yields were generally improved by the spraying treatments (except for CDC SO-I in a few instances) (see Figure 3). Both Best FF and Best Seed Germ improved DM yields of both oat varieties over check. Overall, for Athabasca, DM yield was improved by all nutrients over check. DM yield was as high as 1436 lb/acre for Athabasca oat treated with Best Seed Germ over check.

Forage Quality (Table 1)

All Athabasca oat sprayed plots had higher protein than check (unsprayed Athabasca plots). Athabasca + Best Soil Rejuvenation had the highest protein (8.61%). For CDC SO-I oat, except for Best Soil Rejuvenation, all other spraying treatments had higher protein than check. Overall, CDC SO-I + GSR Ca had the highest protein content (9.24). Averaged across the 5 spraying treatments, CDC SO-I oat had higher protein than Athabasca oat (8.34 vs 7.41%). Generally, the protein contents of the 2 oats following the 5 spraying treatments were only mostly sufficient for cows in the mid-pregnancy stage. Only unsprayed (check) Athabasca oat had lower than 7% protein suggested for cows in the mid-pregnancy stage.

Except for the forage Ca content of Athabasca oat + Best Soil Rej, all spraying treatments for both oats had sufficient amounts of Ca, P, Mg and K needed by a dry gestating cow.

Energy content (%TDN) was generally about 60%. Generally, energy did not vary much between sprayed and unsprayed (check) plots for both oats. The values of TDN obtained here was adequate for a dry gestating cow, which requires 55 and 60% respectively in the mid and late pregnancy stages. Feeding the both oats as green feed to a nursing cow would therefore require additional source of energy to achieve the 65% TDN needed by this category of cow.

Generally, CDC SO-I oat appeared to be slightly better in quality (see mean values in Table 1) than Athabasca oat.

Brix (Sugar) Level

The brix level for the different nutrient sources or spraying treatments obtained in the present trial was similar in most cases to check (see Figure 4).

Brix is a measurement of the sugar level in plant extracts as created through photosynthesis. Brix is measured with an instrument called a Refractometer. Brix Testing is a measurement of the Degrees of Brix in the plant sap and is an excellent way to determine plant energy, as well as nutrition. Use of a refractometer is easy and economical. Increased levels of Brix indicate a healthier plant with increased energy and nutrient dense produce.

Grain Moisture Content, Weight and Yield (Table 2)

Grain moisture content respectively averaged 10.4 and 9.9% for Athabasca and CDC SO-I oats. Seed weight of both oats was not consistently affected by spraying compared to unsprayed checks. Overall, seed weight of CDC SO-I oat was higher than that of Athabasca oat by 5.2 g/100 seed.

Generally, grain yield of both oats was not consistently affected by spraying treatments. For Athabasca oat, only Athabasca oat + Best foliar fertilizer had higher grain yield than check (167 vs 133 bu/acre). Grain yield was higher for Athabasca oat + Best foliar fertilizer by 34-80 bu/acre than other Athabasca spraying treatments and check. For CDC SO-I oat, CDC SO-I + Best seed germination had the highest grain yield (188 bu/acre). Overall, CDC SO-I oat had higher grain yield of 21 bu/acre than Athabasca oat.

The inconsistency of grain yield from both oats with respect to spraying treatments could be as a result of the effects of size, scope of field or field variation, which couldn’t be properly addressed during sampling for grain yield estimation.

For more information on GSR Ca, brix, brix testing process and brix chart, please visit:

For more information on Best products used here and other available products, please visit:

Future Plan

The trial will continue next year (2014) with further evaluation of Best Seed Germination and GSR Ca on CDC SO-I oat for grain and forage production.

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