1. What are Humic Acids and Their Sources?
Humic matter is formed through the chemical and biological humification of plant and animal matter and through the biological activities of micro-organisms. The biological center, the main fraction of natural humic matter, are the humic acids, which contain humic acid and fulvic acid. Humic acids are an excellent natural and organic way to provide plants and soil with a concentrated dose of essential nutrients, vitamins and trace elements. They are complex molecules that exist naturally in soils, peats, oceans and fresh waters. The best source of humic acids are the sedimentation layers of soft brown coal, which are referred to as Leonardite. Humic acids are found in high concentration here. Leonardite is organic matter, which has not reached the state of coal and differs from soft brown coal by its high oxidation degree, a result of the process of coal formation (bog>peat>coal), and high humic acids content as well as higher carboxyl groups.
Compared to other organic products, Leonardite is very rich in humic acids. While Leonardite is the end product of a humification process lasting 70 million years, the formation period of peat, for instance, is completed within only a few thousand years. The difference between Leonardite and other sources of humic acids lies in its property that Leonardite is extremely bioactive through its molecular structure. This biological activity is about five times stronger than other humic matter as one kilogram Leonardite corresponds to about 5 kilogram of other organic sources of humic acids. In terms of humic acids content, one liter of Liqhumus (liquid concentrate) is equivalent to 7-8 metric tons of organic manure. Similarly, one kilogram of Powhumus (concentrated powder) is equivalent to about 30 metric tons of manure.
Content of Humic and Fulvic Acids in % (from - to)
Leonardite/Humate 40 - 85
Black Peat 10 - 40
Sapropel Peat 10 - 20
Brown Coal 10 - 30
Dung 5 - 15
Compost 2 - 5
Soil 1 - 5
Sludge 1 - 5
Hard Coal 0 - 1
Leonardite is not a fertilizer. It acts as conditioner for the soil and as bio-catalyst and bio-stimulant for the plant. Compared to other organic products, Leonardite enhances plant growth particularly (biomass production) and fertility of the soil. Another advantage of Leonardite is its long-term effectiveness, as it does not consume up so quickly as animal manure, compost or peat. As Leonardite is completely decomposed, it does not enter into nutritional competition with plants for nutrients such as for nitrogen. This is not the case with incompletely decomposed compost, whereby the organic substances in soil are rapidly consumed up by micro-organisms and mineralized entirely without humus formation. Our Leonardite- based products improve the soil structure up to five years.
2. Benefits of Humic Acids?
Current scientific studies show that the fertility of soil is determined to a very large extent by the content of humic acids. Their high cation-exchange capacity (CEC), the oxygen content as well as the above average water holding capacity are the reasons for the high value of using humic acids for improving soil fertility and plant growth. The most important feature of humic acids lies in their ability to bind insoluble metal ions, oxides and hydroxides, and to release them slowly and continually to plants when required. Due to these properties, humic acids are known to produce three types of effects: physical, chemical and biological.
2.1. Physical Benefits:
- Humic acids physically modify the structure of the soil.
- Improve the structure of soil: Prevent high water and nutrient losses in light, sandy soils. Simultaneously convert them into fruitful soils by way of decomposition. In heavy and compact soils, aeration of soil and water retention are improved; cultivation measures are facilitated.
- Prevent soil cracking, surface water runoff and soil erosion by increasing the ability of colloids to combine.
- Help the soil to loosen and crumble and thus increase aeration of soil as well as soil workability.
- Increase water holding capacity of soil and thus help resist drought.
- Darken the color of the soil and thus help absorption of the sun energy.
2.2. Chemical Benefits:
- Humic acids chemically change the fixation properties of the soil.
- Neutralize both acid and alkaline soils; regulate the pH-value of soils.
- Improve and optimize the uptake of nutrients and water by plants.
- Increase buffering properties of soil.
- Act as natural chelator for metal ions under alkaline conditions and promote their uptake by the roots.
- Rich in both organic and mineral substances essential to plant growth.
- Retain water soluble inorganic fertilizers in the root zones and reduce their leaching.
- Possess extremely high cation-exchange capacities.
- Promote the conversion of nutrient elements (N, P, K + Fe, Zn and other trace elements) into forms available to plants.
- Enhance the uptake of nitrogen by plants.
- Reduce the reaction of phosphorus with Ca, Fe, Mg and Al and liberate it into a form that is available and beneficial to plants. The productivity of particularly mineral fertilizers is increased considerably.
- Liberate carbon dioxide from soil calcium carbonate and enable its use in photosynthesis.
- Help to eliminate chlorosis due to iron deficiency in plants.
- Reduce the availability of toxic substances in soils.
2.3. Biological Benefits:
- Humic acids biologically stimulate the plant and the activities of micro-organisms.
- Stimulate plant enzymes and increase their production.
- Act as an organic catalyst in many biological processes.
- Stimulate growth and proliferation of desirable micro-organisms in soil.
- Enhance plant’s natural resistance against disease and pest.
- Stimulate root growth, especially vertically and enable better uptake of nutrients.
- Increase root respiration and root formation.
- Promote the development of chlorophyll, sugars and amino acids in plants and aid in photosynthesis.
- Increase vitamin and mineral content of plants.
- Thicken the cell walls in fruits and prolong the storing and shelf time.
- Increase germination and viability of seeds.
- Stimulate plant growth (higher biomass production) by accelerating cell division, increasing the rate of development in root systems and increasing the yield of dry matter.
- Increase the quality of yields; improve their physical appearance and nutritional value.