Humic Substances: A Quick Introduction

posted in Humic & Humates

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: