If Humic Acid is in the Soil, Why Do We Need to Add it?

If Humic Acid is in the Soil, Why Do We Need to Add it?

Soil undisturbed, has a balance of humic acid, microorganisms, and the entire soil food web. But, as soon as we rake, shovel, or till – that area is no longer in balance. There is almost NO undisturbed soil on earth. We have either logged, tilled, grazed animals, or added nutrients to the soil. Are you growing on undisturbed soil? If so, it’s no longer undisturbed and would benefit from the addition of humic acid.

Whether you’ve added nutrients in the form of synthetics or natural fertilizers the soil food web is changed. Humic acid is key to creating humus, or soil, and if you don’t have enough and continue to grow crops your soil slowly degrades. Humic acid is critical to maintaining and even improving the fertility of your soil.

What Are The Benefits Of Adding Humic Acid?

Humic acid improves your soil in three ways; structurally, chemically, and biologically. The soil food web is an amazing and complex structure and, when in balance, can grow healthy and nutrient dense food. Listed are some of the benefits you can get from the addition of humic acid to your growing area.

Structural Benefits

  • Less water and nutrient losses in sandy soils
  • Less compaction and more aeration of clay soils
  • Increases water retention which helps plants resist drought
  • Darker soil color for more sun absorption
  • Makes the soil crumbly and easy to work

Chemical Benefits

  • Neutralizes both alkaline and acid soils, regulates the pH
  • Increases the CEC (cation exchange capacity) of your soil
  • Water and nutrient uptakes are improved

Biological Benefits

  • Stimulates enzymes
  • Increases germination and viability of seeds
  • Stimulates growth of beneficial microorganisms in the soil
  • Stimulates root growth Increases plant yields while also making them more nutrient-dense

These are only a few of the benefits of humic acid in your soil. The increase in root growth along with the better water retention decrease erosion by either water or wind. You keep your topsoil and your garden soil becomes richer, with more humus. The increase in root mass also prevents nitrates and synthetics from leaching into groundwater.

How Does Humic Acid Work

Humic acid is a chelating (pronunciation: key- late–ing) agent. Chelation is a biochemical process in which humic acid, which is negatively charged, attracts the positively charged nutrients in the soil and holds them until they are needed by plants. The bond humic acid makes with the mineral ion is strong enough to keep other soil components from breaking it but weak enough so that plant root exudates can break the bond when the nutrients are needed. Because most nutrients are naturally in the soil as insoluble forms of soil minerals it is not possible to grow healthy plants without sufficient humic acid. [USDA]

With humic acid (which has a negative charge) the positively charged ions of magnesium, calcium, iron, and other “trace minerals” are changed from a mineral form to a form that is plant-soluble. They are changed from minerals to their constituent mineral ion fractions through biochemical reactions with humic acid. As plants take up these nutrients more mineral ions are released from the soil water. All plants require these minerals for strong health, as do all animals and humans.

These minerals can be introduced into your soil either through organic (compost) or synthetic inputs. The ability of humic acid to bind these micronutrients keeps them from leaching out of your soil. So, whether you have a backyard garden or a commercial field, humic acid is critical to growing a nutrient dense and profitable crop.

How Has the Addition of Humic Acid Increased Productivity?

There have been many studies on the effects of humic acid on crops. In China where peanuts are a major crop, Yan Li et al. conducted a study of the effect of increasing the amount of humic acid in agricultural fields.

They found:

"…after adding humic acid, various factors affect each other, which synergistically improve the soil quality of continuous cropping peanuts and enhance nutrient utilization, thus achieving the effect of enhanced peanut yield and quality." [cite]

Perhaps you don’t plan on growing peanuts in your backyard, but what about corn or cilantro? Amongst the trials Rogitex has conducted, a study on field corn in Iowa (USA) and the soil analysis showed that with the addition of Humic Land™, a humic acid product made from peat, there was:

  • Increased phosphorus and potassium solubilization
  • Decreased immobilization of plant-available nitrogen forms
  • Increased manganese bioavailability
  • Consistent increase in the abundance of beneficial plant growth promoters

A study done in California with a major Cilantro grower showed better yields with the addition of Humic Land™. Bryson Daniel, grower, said " Humic Land has proven to increase cilantro yields by 20% over 10 different fields. Cilantro root establishment is noticeably better. Cilantro stands with Humic Land are visibly more established."

The cilantro on the left is the control, the cilantro on the right has had Humic Land™ treatments.

cilantro roots comparison with humic acid vs control

Would you like to see a 20% increase in your yield?

This figure applies to Cilantro, but all trials done by Rogitex have shown increased yields, and more importantly, improved soil health. You can explore our case studies to see how others have increased crop productivity and soil health.

You might increase yield in the short-term through fertilization, but for long-term yield increase and nutrient-dense crops you have to pay attention to soil health. Fertilizers, whether organic or synthetic, will not be very effective without sufficient humic acid in your soil.

The question to ask is: Does My Soil Have Enough Humic Acid?

If it has been tilled, raked, or shoveled in the near past the soil food web has been disturbed, which means the amount of humic acid is not at a point for optimum plant production. In deficient soil conditions, fertilizers alone will not solve the problem. Many of them will be leached out by water or stick to the soil. Growers, perhaps even you, become frustrated when they have added nutrients to their soils yet haven’t gained an increase in productivity. With the addition of humic acid, your soil structure improves, the microbial activity increases, which creates greater nutrient cycling.

Humic Land™ is a high-quality humic acid product made from sustainably sourced peat. It is excellent for farmers, market gardeners and homesteaders.

If you are working with just a few garden beds or planters, Kaytonik™ would be a better fit for you and contains all the same benefits for improving the health of your soil on a much smaller scale. 

Contact us to learn more about how you can increase your garden productivity while improving the health of your soil.

Posted in: Humic Acids

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