Monday, March 23, 2015

Humic Acid

Humic substances, such as those listed in the above title, play a vital role in soil fertility and
plant nutrition. Plants grown on soils which contain adequate humin, humic adds (HAs), and
fulvic adds (FAs) are less subject to stress, are healthier, produce higher yields; and the
nutritional quality of harvested foods and feeds are superior. The value of humic substances in
soil fertility and plant nutrition relates to the many functions these complex organic compounds
perform as a part of the life cycle on earth. The life death cycle involves a recycling of the
carbon containing structural components of plants and animals through the soil and air and
back into the living plant.

Man became distracted from the importance of organic compound cycling when it was
discovered that soluble acidic based N P K "fertilizers" could stimulate plant growth. Large
industrial concerns took advantage of the N P K discovery to market industrially processed
"fertilizers" from mineral deposit. Continued use of these acidic fertilizers in the absence of
adequate humic substances (in the soil) has caused many serious sociological and ecological
problems. Man needs to reconsider his approach to fertilization techniques by giving higher
priority to soil humus.

The urgency to emphasize the importance of humic substances and their value as fertilizer
ingredients has never been more important than it is today. All those concerned about the
ability of soils to support plant growth need to assist in educating the public. Humic substances
are recognized by most soil scientists and agronomists as the most important component of a
healthy fertile soil. To illustrate how humic substances function, the following summary, based
on published scientific data, has been prepared as a guide for an educational program. In
addition, by understanding how these carbon containing substances function, professionals will
have a solid foundation on which to design environmentally acceptable sustainable agriculture

My friend Leon Bird wants me to apply his humic acid product on my crops this year.  I am not sure I can get this done but I would like to.

There are so many products available farmers are wary of them and mnay consider them uneeded or even "snake oil."  You know how I hate the term "snake oil" because all of those products probably have a place, they are not understood and often misplaced.  Just like the second paragraph where it says "man became distracted" and forgot about basic biology for then cheaper NPK fertilizers.

About all of the contest winners use humic acid as well as a lot of other "snake oils" but they understand enough to tweek their yields.  I heard an interview with the corn champ in Georgia and was impressed with his take on all of these things.  It made sense.

The economics of 2015 has farmers turn back to the basics.  What are your basics?  Removal rates of NPK fertilizer?  Are you still going to try some other things that interest you or has worked for you in the past?

Ed Winkle


  1. Humic acid is one of my local pet peeves. The fertilizer salesmen push it as a way to get more benefits out of the fertilizer that is already in your soil. So farmers use humic acid as a way to cut down on their fertilizer use. Usually the idea is to band it with the seed when using my no-till drill.
    Humic acid can be hard on strainers and can combine badly with 10-34. It is a pain in the butt.
    Plus, I don't think it is being used correctly. I got into quite a discussion with a humic acid promoter at the Northwest Agricultural show a few years back.
    Humic acid is a wonderful tool to improve your fertility when you first balance your pH, apply fertilizer according to your test, and after seeing it used for years, I don't think a one-time application really does that much. My observation (not official) is that you see gradual results. Especially if you are using it in cold wet soils.
    But I do not see it as a way to save on fertilizer costs in the short term and it annoys me to see fertilizer salesmen pushing it to farmers who are short on money and thinking they can cut down their P and K rates.

    1. I'm not saying Humic Acid is a bad idea. I am positive it helps if used properly over the course of a few years. I'm saying it should not be used like some sort of miracle grow and I it bugs me that it gets promoted that way.
      It gets the reputation as "Snake Oil" because that is how it is promoted.

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