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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Fertilizer burn

When salt levels are too high around the roots, salt injury or fertilizer burn can occur. Roots browning and leaf scorch are typical symptoms. Plants may wilt and growth may be stunted. High rates of fertilizer contacting the foliage can also cause burn.

Fertilizer burn may be more severe in dry soil due to fertilizer salts being more concentrated (not diluted by soil water). During periods of high evapotranspiration, more salts can be pulled up into leaves, causing more severe foliar symptoms.

Healthy roots (left) versus roots showing fertilizer burn (right) Fertilizer burn on leaves due to direct contact with fertilizer prills Leaf scorch due to high fertilizer salt levels around plant rootsClick to enlarge.