Humic Substances: A Quick Introduction

Agricultural researchers have been studying humic substances since the late 1960’s. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the importance of humic substances in garden and crop production, and the necessity of maintaining adequate concentrations of humic substances in productive soils, have been recognized and emphasized by agriculturalists and scientists.

Here are some introductory stats and facts about humic acids. This information comes from The Humic Producers Trade Association, among other sources.

  • In the United States, 110-112 million acres of crop land receive some type of humic substance — only about 3% of the harvested acres!
  • California and the western United States have the highest crop use of humic products, and were some of the earliest innovators.
  • The greatest benefit of humic substances is when applied to sandy or low CEC soils. Humic substances also work well on heavily cropped soils.
  • Most of the low organic matter CEC soils are in the coastal crop production areas (“the smile”) of the United States.
  • Crops most often associated with humic acid use are tomatoes, potatoes, sweet corn, crucifers, sugar beets, turfgrass, and other high value crops with multiple seasons per year.

For more information on the history, use and benefits of humic substances, visit the Humic Products Trade Association (HPTA) website: www.humictrade.org.

Humic Substances – What’s all the Buzz About?

Precision agriculture has utilized digital and other technology to change the face of modern agriculture and to move crop productivity forward. Humic substances are the latest line of tools designed to maximize the effects of precision agriculture on crop production.

The Beginning of the Green Revolution
Post World War II, there was a successful attempt to understand soils, plant nutrition and plant nutrient sources, and to develop plant nutrients with higher nutrient analysis and greater efectiveness. The USDA, the Land Grant Universities, and the agricultural industry pioneered serious scientific research into plant nutrition and soil conservation. This was the beginning of the other “Green Revolution” – the aim to feed the world’s population.

Another movement forward to increase world food and feed resources was in the 1990’s – early 2000’s. Advances were made in modern agricultural genetics and crops, with the ability to overcome specific pest issues, specific herbicide resistance and increase yield potential.

Throughout the period of the quest for growth in agricultural productivity, University and Industry researchers were working to improve plant nutrition, fertilizer and soil amendment sources, and the understanding of plants’ responses to them. This research led to an new area of study in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s: understanding the role of humates and humic substances as soil amendments in agricultural nutrition.

As the next push in precision agriculture emerges, research is focused on (among others things) ways to use plant nutrients and water resources in a sustainable way, continuing to feed the world’s growing population.

The (Well-Recognized) Benefits of Humates & Humic Acids
Humates and Humic Acids are soil amendments that affect soil microbial activity, soil chemistry, plant nutrition and water use. They influence the plant’s ability to better utilize nutrients from soil and to manage water use within the plant, and affect the plant’s physiologic process to alter soil pH and tilth.

Because of these properties, humic substances (such as humates), along with precision nutrient management, have important roles to play in precision agriculture.

Introducing Humic DG
With advancing plant nutrient technology in mind, we introduced The Andersons Humic DG – The Next Generation of Humic Acid.

Humic DG utilizes our patented Dispersing Granule (DG) Technology, providing an ideal vehicle to deliver nutrients and soil amendments compatible with modern precision agriculture. Humic DG is a dry granular dispersing source of humic acid. As a soil amendment, Humic DG disperses and self-incorporates into the soil upon application.

While other competitive dry humates and powders contain a single bio-organic based carbon source, Humic DG contains two forms of organic carbon available to the plant: a plant derived carbon source and a bio-organic derived source. Together, these two sources of organic carbon have been shown to increase soil carbon, chelate macro and micro nutrients, increase CEC and stimulate beneficial soil biology.

Humic DG is dispersible, biological, spreadable and blendable.