Evaluating Leaf Wettability and Salt Hygroscopicity as Drivers for Foliar Absorption


The objective of this study was to evaluate the rate of foliar absorption of magnesium (Mg) salts with different deliquescence and efflorescence relative humidity values (DRH and ERH, also known as point of deliquescence (POD) and point of efflorescence (POE), respectively) when supplied to leaves of model plants with different wettability properties. For this purpose, a greenhouse pot experiment was conducted with lettuce (very wettable), broccoli (highly unwettable) and leek (highly unwettable). Foliar sprays contained 0.1% surfactant plus 100 mM Mg supplied as MgCl2·6H2O, Mg(NO3)2·6H2O or MgSO4·7H2O. Leaf Mg concentrations were determined 1 and 7 days after foliar application. Anion concentrations were also measured in lettuce where a significant foliar Mg absorption was detected. Leaf wettability, leaf surface free energy and fertilizer drop deposit appearance onto the foliage were assessed. It is concluded that despite including a surfactant in the spray formulation, leaf wettability plays a major role in foliar Mg absorption.