Humic and Fulvic Acids for Soil Health

March 23, 2021
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The Building Blocks of Healthy Soil 

Humic and fulvic acids both originate from humus, but both play very different rolesWorking in tandem, humic and fulvic acids create great benefits for your farm.  They create healthy microbe-rich soil, increase plant health, and improve crop yields. 

These acids are not only in the soil, they are in the gut biomes of us all. When you spread manure or compost the microbes that began the decomposition process in the intestines of your cow or other livestock, are deposited in the soil. If there are no toxic chemicals to destroy them, they multiply and start creating humus. And that’s where you’ll find humic and fulvic acids, in highly decomposed organic matter. It’s difficult to separate humic from fulvic acid because they exist in a dynamic state of flux. But they do have differences and different roles on your farm.  

Let’s talk about their characteristics and how each contributes to your farm profit 

The Benefits of Humic Acid for Crop Yields 

A humic acid molecule is large by molecular standards.  It is a soil conditioner that increases your soil’s ability to retain nutrients and water.  It acts as a chelating agent, binding nutrients to each humic acid molecule until it is needed by your plants. A humic acid molecule is too large to penetrate plant cells but… 

  • It helps increase the permeability of the cell wall so fulvic acid can slip in with its payload 
  • Bonds with soil nutrients and makes them plant soluble 
  • Stimulates microbial activity in the soil 
  • Chelate toxic metals so they don’t end up in your plants 
  • Help increase water retention in sandy soils  
  • Open up clay soil pores for water infiltration 
  • Improve seedling health and plant response to stress 
  • Creates a better cation exchange capacity (CEC) and also has buffering capabilities 

This sounds like a miracle cure for an unproductive farm.  But humic acid does not work alone.  It is a team player with organic matter, your crops, the microbial community, and its right-hand partner fulvic acid. 

The Benefits of Fulvic Acid on Your Farm 

If we think of humic acid as the big guy, fulvic acid is the reallyreally tiny guy. A molecule of fulvic acid is 1/10th the size of a humic acid molecule.  Because of its small size there are a number of ways fulvic acid can benefit your farm. 

  • It’s always in solution, whether your soil is acidic, alkaline, or in between 
  • Can move through plant cell membranes to deliver nutrients 
  • Can carry 10 times its weight of nutrients through the cell membrane 
  • Acts as biostimulant to improve seed germination
  • Decreases water stress 
  • Is an organic natural electrolyte that balances cell life 
  • Oxygen absorption in the soil is increased, promoting plant growth 

It is very useful in a foliar spray because it is so small and can carry your nutrients into the plant cells. Fulvic acid attracts metal ions so it’s a good addition as a soil drench when you need extra iron, aluminum, or copper for your plants. Doing a soil test will give you information on the micronutrients in your soil.

Fulvic Acid and Humic Acid – the Benefits of Working as a Team 

Of course, you really can’t separate fulvic from humic acid – except in a laboratory, and even then, with great difficulty. But for soil and plant health you don’t want to separate them.  They work together. One of the biggest benefits of both humic and fulvic acids is the increase of root mass at low concentrations of soil amendment. Increased root mass allows plants to acquire more macro and micronutrients in the soil to pass on to the leaves and fruit.  According to the Iowa State University Extension the increased root growth also “…may improve plant resistance to disease, and plant response to feeding by herbivores and nematodes, and water stress caused by drought.” Root mass is critical to productive crops. The greater the root mass the stronger the microbial community because plants give off exudates from their roots, feeding the microbes, who in turn bring the plant needed nutrients. 

You Don’t Need Much for Beneficial Results 

Many studies have proven that using too much humic acids have no benefit.  In fact, “…use of these compounds [humic and fulvic acids] at high concentrations have been shown to decrease root and shoot growth,” Iowa State University studies showed.  Fulvic and humic acid are often added to a fertilizer application.  Be sure and discuss amounts of fertilizer with your crop consultant because humic acids make nutrients more plant availableYou’ll probably need less. 

The Benefit to Your Farm?  

You don’t have to spend very much to get a large ROI. With proper soil management, you should be able to decrease your inputs while maintaining crop yields and farm profits.  

Extra money in your pocket! 

Sometimes great benefits come in small packages. That’s the case with humic acids. Our product, Humic Land, is formulated to give you the correct amount of both fulvic and humic acid to create a lively microbial community that will increase your soil and plant healthWe are proud to say we sustainably source our product from peat, we do not mine. 

You also will spend less on inputs because the humic acids are providing food for the microbial army in your soil. 

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