Understanding the origin of Humic Acids
Humic acid is one of three main fractions of humic substances along with fulvic acid and humin. Humic substances are small organic molecular compounds present in humus - the major organic fraction of soil. Humic substances are formed by the microbial degradation of dead plant matter.
Humic acid is obtained by lab extraction, a process that alters its original form beyond recognition. It’s extracted from the soil into a basic solution of sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide and then precipitated from this solution by adjusting the pH to 1.
Humic acid as traditionally produced in a laboratory is not a single acid; rather, it is a complex mixture of many different acids that are soluble in alkaline solutions. Humic acid is commonly used as a soil supplement in agriculture, and less commonly as a human nutritional supplement.
Ecological Impact of Humic Acids
Organic matter and humus have been a study focus of many scientists and researchers since at least the 18th century. At the present time, it is recognized that humus influences soil fertility through its effect on the water-holding capacity of the soil.
According to Ohio State University study, "humic acids increased plant growth" and there were "relatively large responses at low application rates”. Some scientists also believe artificial humic acid (A-HA) synthesized from agricultural litter, can increase the content of dissolved organic matter and total organic carbon in the soil.
Humic acids are an excellent way to enhance plant growth and provide plants and soil with the necessary nutrients and vitamins. Moreover, it does not get consumed as quickly as animal manure and decomposes completely, therefore it does not enter into nutritional competition with plants for nutrients like nitrogen.
Agricultural Benefits of Humic Acids
Better soil fertility and plant growth
Increased water-holding capacity
Higher nutrient uptake
Increased decomposition rates
Improved seed germination
Increased microbial activity
Decreased application rates
Economic Benefits of Humic Acids
The years of inconsiderate agronomy practices created a threat to soil health and productivity. The need to restore soil has subsequently led to the necessity of restoring organic matter. Since the natural development of renewed organic matter takes many years, the introduction of organic lab-derived humic acid became essential.
Since humic acids increase plants' nutrient uptake, it allows reducing fertilizer and pesticide use. The overall improvement of soil health and plant growth significantly increases the yield. Moreover, due to the better water-holding capacity, the use of water can be reduced substantially.
Best economic results can be obtained in light and sandy soils poor in humus. It also applies to almost all soils in dry and warm regions. As a result of the high mineralization rate of organic substances, providing these soils with stable humic acids is indispensable for the maintenance and improvement of soil fertility.