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29 January 2021

Why does humic acid make a difference?
Why does humic acid make a difference?

Welcome back to Reading the Fields,

This month I will be writing about humic acid and its importance in your growing program. I have worked with humic acid for almost 20 years now and it is a very important component of agriculture. 

Our TrueHume 80 humates are derived from leonardite which is a rich source of humic acid and is mined near the surface of coal deposits. There have been many studies, field trials, and research done on humic acids and their benefits to crops. Global Market Insights Inc. states that the humic acid market might reach $1.4 billion worldwide by 2026 due to agriculture. It is widely used as a chelating and buffing agent. 

Why does humic acid make a difference? 

When nitrogen fertilizers are applied to the soil, any ammonia not absorbed by the plants is rapidly oxidized by autotrophic ammonia-oxidizing microbes.

Studies show that adding nitrogen without the addition of humates will quickly deplete soil microbes and slows the process of mineral absorption to the plant. Adding humic acid will help regulate the soil availability of nitrogen due to maintaining good microbial activity and thus mineral availability to the plant roots. As a very strong chelator, it will assist your fertilizers and allow them to become available in a way that the plant can absorb nutrients when needed.

Adding humates to nitrogen is very popular and this process is widely accepted as an excellent input by agronomists across the world. This is only one of many ways to utilize the wonders of humates in your growing program. 

Humic acid originates from chemical and biological degradation of plant and animal residue and from microbial cells. Humic acid can absorb or chelate the nitrogen into its structure either directly through a chemical process or indirectly through microbial activity. This process of “coating” the nitrogen will slow down the degradation of soil microbes such as ammonia-oxidizing bacteria. Humic acid will buffer the change in diversity and quantity of microbes affected by the application of nitrogen. Humic acid performs the crucial role of binding insoluble ions and releasing them when required. 

A few other amazing benefits of using humic acid include that it improves water retention of the soil, prevents surface run-off, regulates the pH of the soil and improves root respiration. 

Here are a few thoughts, from my years of experience, that I hope will prove useful. Always look for and use 100% soluble humates. These will dissolve in water and will work much more effectively to spread out and chelate much more quickly than raw ore. Whether used in a dry form or a liquid form, 100% soluble product is the only way to achieve the desired results. Humic acid can easily be pre-blended with dry fertilizer products such as urea, MAP, kelp etc. When making a liquid please agitate constantly and try to keep air out of the mixing solution. Add humates with any soil-applied fertilizer to increase the plant’s ability to utilize it all. Something to note as well is that I have seen negative results when added to a herbicide so be careful. 

We have helped many growers across North America to learn about humates and add them to their operation successfully. It is well known that the popularity of humic acid is on the rise and we are here to assist you with knowledge and understanding.

With kindest regards,




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