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Humic Acid’s Role in Improving Soil Quality and Plant Growth

Humic acid is a natural bio-stimulant that is derived from leonardite and is among the most concentrated organic material available today. Elemental analysis of humic acid has shown it to consist largely of carbon and oxygen (about 50% and 40% respectively). Humic acid also contains hydrogen (about 5%), nitrogen (about 3%), phosphorous and sulfur (both less than 1%). Humic acid is a complex of closely related macromolecules. These molecules range in size from less than 1000 to more than 100,000 daltons, with the lower mass representing the younger material.

humic-acids-role-in-improving-soil-quality-and-plant-growthHumus compounds are complex natural organic compounds that are formed in soils from plant residues, by a process of “humification”. Humus materials are complex aggregate of brown to dark colored amorphous substances, which have originated during the decomposition of plant and animal residues by microorganisms, under aerobic and anaerobic conditions, in soils, composts, peat bogs, and water basins. Chemically, humus consists of certain constituents of the original plant material resistant to further decomposition; of substances undergoing decomposition; of complexes resulting from decomposition, either by processes of hydrolysis or by oxidation and reduction; and of various compounds synthesized by microorganisms.

Humic acid’s role in improving soil quality

Most people are quick to say Humic Acids are fertilizers, but in fact, it is more of a natural soil conditioner. The benefits far outweigh the costs and with so many soils being depleted around the world today, Humic Acids are an effective product to reverse the depletion trend. In a world where we are seeing world population grow at an exponential rate, and are losing arable acres on which to grow crops, we need to fertilize crops to maximize production and feed the hungry.

By supplying the soil with sufficient humic acid, we help to bind cations (positively charged elements). The ability to chelate positively charged multivalent ions (Mg, Ca, Fe and other ”trace minerals” of value to plants) is probably the most important role of humic acid, with respect to your soil. By chelating the ions, humic acid facilitates the uptake of the ions by means of several mechanisms, one of which is preventing their precipitation (leaching through the soil). Another is the direct and positive influence on their bio-availability. It can also detoxify the soil of heavy metals. Research has shown that heavy metals can be ”locked up” with the addition of humic acid.

Humic acid’s role in improving Plants growth

One way plant growth is improved is through the structural improvement of both clay and sandy soil allowing for better root growth development. Plant growth is also improved by the ability of the plant to uptake and receive more nutrients. Humic acid is especially beneficial in freeing up nutrients in the soil so that they are made available to the plant as needed. For instance if an aluminum molecule is binded with a phosphorus one, humic acid detaches them making the phosphorus available for the plant. Humic acid is also especially important because of its ability to chelate micronutrients increasing their bio-availability.

The activities of beneficial soil microbes are crucial for the sustainability of any plant growth. Humic acid stimulates microbial activity by providing the indigenous microbes with a carbon source for food, thus encouraging plant’s growth and activity. Soil microbes are responsible for solubilizing vital nutrients such as phosphorus that can then be absorbed by the humic acid and in turn made available to the plant for better growth and root development. Additionally, microbes are responsible for the continued development of humus in the soil as it continues to break down not fully decomposed organic matter. This in-situ production of humus continues to naturally add to the humic acid base and its benefits.

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Humic Acid Uses

The different Humic acid uses as follows;

  • Humic acid uses enhance nutrient uptake by combining nutrients and humic aid as well as keep a well-balanced nutrition.
  • Humic acid uses improve the structure of soil, increase the buffering powder of soil, optimize NPK absorption by plants.
  • Humic acid uses neutralize both acid and alkaline soils, regulate the PH value of soils, with the prominent effect in alkaline and acidic soil.
  • Humic acid uses reduce nitrate leaking into the groundwater and protect the underground water
  • Humic acid uses enhance the resilience of crops, such as cold, drought, pest, disease and toppling resistance
  • Humic acid uses stabilize nitrogen and improve nitrogen efficiency (as an additive with urea)
  • Humic acid uses promote healthier, stronger plants and beautify appearance
  • Humic acid uses buffering the effects of excessive elements (particularly sodium), toxic chemicals and heavy metals.
  • Humic acid uses promoting seed germination in a shorter time
  • Humic acid uses offering soil structure improvement by promoting fungi to create a crumb structure for better water and oxygen intake and improved root penetration
  • Humic acid uses extending the performance of urea in the soil by 60-80 days and buffers the burning effect of urea as a foliar

Humic acid

humic-acid-usesHumic acid is the most important part of humic substances, which are the major organic constituents of soil (humus), peat, coal, many upland streams, dystrophic lakes, and ocean water. It is produced by biodegradation of dead organic matter.

All humic acids are primarily composed of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and hydrogen. They may also contain sulfur and phosphorus in varying minute amounts depending on the source. Like most natural polymers, humic acids have complex structures and contain a number of biologically active functional groups including carboxylic acid, phenolic hydroxyl, methoxyl and amine groups.

It is generally recognized that soil, regardless of geographic location, must contain a minimum level of organic matter in the form of humus or humic acids. Soils with organic matter contents below these levels will not produce optimum crop yields.

One way to supplement organic matter in low humus soils is to add commercial humic acid preparations. For greatest performance, such preparations should contain effective levels of both humic and fulvic acids. Optimum application rates vary with crop and soil type but should be in the 10 – 300 ppm range.

  • Improve overall plant growth
  • Increase root vitality
  • Improve nutrient uptake
  • Increase chlorophyll synthesis
  • Improve seed germination
  • Increase yields
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Humic fertilizer

Humic fertilizer. Humic fertilizer are complex organic molecules that are formed by the breakdown of organic matter. Humic fertilizer influences soil fertility through its effect on the water-holding capacity of the soil. Humic fertilizer make important contributions to soil stability and soil fertility leading to exceptional plant growth and micro nutrient uptake.

There has been much interest in the subject of soil Humic fertilizer, humus and humates over the years. There is basic agreement on the benefits of humus. Humic fertilizer are reported to increase the permeability of plant membranes, so promoting the uptake of nutrients. There is evidence of a positive effect of Humic fertilizer substances on the growth of various groups of microorganisms. There is also evidence that some of the humate materials contain large populations of Actinomycetes (microorganisms that share the properties of both fungi and bacteria). They are capable of degrading a wide range of substances including celluloses, humicelluloses, proteins, and lignin.


  • Humic fertilizer 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.
  • Humic fertilizer prevent soil cracking, surface water runoff and soil erosion by increasing the ability of colloids to combine.
  • Humic fertilizer help the soil to loosen and crumble and thus increase aeration of soil as well as soil workability.
  • Humic fertilizer increase water holding capacity of soil and thus help resist drought.
  • Humic fertilizer darken the color of the soil and thus help absorption of the sun energy.

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What is Humic Acid

Humic acid is an organic chemical produced by decaying plants and animals. Humic acid is what-is-humic-acidone of the major components of humic substances which is dark brown in colour and the major constituents of soil organic matter humus that contributes to soil chemical and physical properties and are also precursors of some fossil fuels. Humic acid can also be found in peat, coal, many upland streams and ocean water.

Humic substances make up a large portion of the dark matter in humus and are made up of complex colloidal supramolecular mixtures (Piccolo, 1996, 2001; MacCarthy, 2001) that have never been separated into pure components. Since the end of the 18th century, humic substances have been designated as either humic acid, fulvic acid or humin. These fractions are defined strictly on their solubility in either acid or alkali, describing the materials by operation only, thus imparting no chemical information about the extracted materials. 

The term ‘humic substances’ is used in a generic context to distinguish the naturally occurring material from the chemical extractions named humic acid and fulvic acid, which are defined “operationally” by their solubility in alkali or acid solutions. It is important to note, however, that no sharp divisions exist between humic acids, fulvic acids and humins. They are all part of an extremely heterogeneous supramolecular system and the differences between the subdivisions are due to variations in chemical composition, acidity, degree of hydrophobicity and self-associations of molecules. When humic substances are characterized, especially when functionality is studied, there is always the problem that one usually has to separate the huge number of different bio-organic molecules into homogenous fractions. 

Humic substances arise by the microbial degradation of biomolecules (lipids, proteins, carbohydrates, lignin) dispersed in the environment after the death of living cells. A modern structural description regards humic material as a supramolecular structure of relatively small bio-organic molecules (having molecular mass <1000 Da) self-assembled mainly by weak dispersive forces such as Van der Waals force, π-π, and CH-π bonds into only apparently large molecular sizes. 

A large class of humic molecules is represented by hydrophobic compounds (long alkyl-chain alkanes, alkenes, fatty acids, sterols, terpenoids, and phenyl-alkyl residues of lignin degradation) which allow their self-association into supramolecular structures separated from the water medium and, thus, their long residence time in the environment. Humic substances may chelate multivalent cations such as Mg2+, Ca2+, and Fe2+. By chelating the ions, they increase the availability of these cations to organisms, including plants. 

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What is the difference between Humic acid and Fulvic acid?


Click on the image to visit Saosis online Shop to buy Humic acid based fertilizer.

Fulvic acid is the lowest molecular weight portion of humic substances.  By definition it will be golden in color where humic acid will be brown to black.  Because of its small molecular size, fulvic acid is able to penetrate the leaf and even the mitochondria of a cell which makes it great for foliar sprays and root drenches.  By comparison humic acid is a fantastic soil conditioner and better for dry broad cast and soil/soil-less application.

Typically each manufacturer will give a product analysis differentiating the fulvic from the humic; however some states do not accept fulvic acid analysis and will refer to all substances as humic acids.  To further confuse things, a standardized industry method for analyzing humic substances does not exist.  This creates a range of concentrations and analysis for humic products.  At the end of the day it is best to conduct bioassays and test the products yourself to see which one will do best.

Saosis is one of the leading manufacturer of Humic acid and Fulvic acid in India.