Why humic and fulvic acids

Humic acids and fulvic acids are two major parts of what’s usually called humates. Humin is the third part and they all play a vital role in soil fertility and plant nutrition. 

Humates occur naturally in our environment and are the remains of a process called humification, which is the biodegradation of dead plants and animal matter. It’s a slow process. The humates of today have taken millions of years to create.

Soils rich in humates are full of micro-organisms, minerals, nutrients etc which are beneficial for plant growth and result in yields with a high nutritional value and quality.

Ecofarma develops products containing humic and fulvic acids, both essential for healthy plants. But there are a some differences between the two and here we mention a few.

Examples of what humic acids do

  • Stimulate microbial activity in soil
  • Increase water holding capacity (helping the soil to absorb water)
  • Improve root growth and shoot development
  • Make nutrients more available in the soil 

Examples of what fulvic acids do

  • Transfer nutrients into plants
  • Improve the plants ability to absorb minerals (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium)
  • Act as a filter for toxic metals and prevent them from being absorbed by the plants
  • Can increase oxygen uptake capacity

Both humic and fulvic acids

  • Stimulate the activities of both chlorophyllase a and b 
  • Possess antiviral activity 

Our products are mainly used as soil conditioners, plant nutrition and livestock nutrition within the agricultural sector. We also supply customers in the sports and recreational sectors (notably golf courses) and for land rehabilitation. 

The difference between Humic and fulvic acids.

Humic and fulvic acids are differentiated according to their solubility in either acidic or basic solutions. They also vary in molecular size, carbon-hydrogen-oxygen-nitrogen content and their function in biological systems. 

Humic acids work best in soil, providing an optimal growing environment. Fulvic acids also work well in soil but in addition they are often directly applied to the plant leaves, where they transfer vital nutrients through their cell membrane.

Humic and fulvic acids improve the cation exchange capacity (CEC), the oxygen content and water holding capacity of the soil. 

Their most important feature is their ability to bind insoluble metal ions, oxides and hydroxides, and to release them slowly and continually to plants when required. 

These attributes result in physical, chemical and biological benefits in soils which in turn translate to ecological and economic benefits. 

Humic acids

  • Humic acid is a long chain molecule, high in molecular weight and dark brown in colour. 
  • It can can be extracted from natural humic substances in a number of ways, typically with alkali solutions. They are then precipitated from the alkaline aqueous solutions by acidification. 
  • The alkaline solution has a pH of approximately 10 and also fairly large molecules (150–300nM in size). Roots or plant leaves cannot absorb it and it is unable to transport nutrients into the plant. 
  • Humic acids have less functional groups or ionic charges and a lower chemical reactivity than fulvic acids. 
  • Humic acids help to create a healthy soil environment by improving soil structure and function. This in turn leads to better microbial activity, better water retention and a more effective transfer to the plant.

Fulvic acids

  • Fulvic acid is a short chain molecule, low in molecular weight and yellow in color.
  • It is soluble in both acid and alkali solutions.
  • Fulvic acids have a higher number of functional groups or ionic charges and a higher reactivity than humic acids. It is water soluble at any pH and has fairly small molecules (80 –100nM in size). 
  • Plant roots and leaves can absorb it and it transports nutrients into the plant. 
  • The fulvic acids’ molecules have the ability to chelate (bind to) minerals and nutrients so that they are more easily absorbed by the cells of the plants. 
  • Fulvic acids are also more biologically vigorous than humic acids, thanks to having almost twice as much oxygen content. 

Do you want to read more about Humic and Fulvic acids?

Here are some links to sources for further information about the two acids and how they work. Please enjoy.

Effects of Humic Acid on Animals and Humins – An Overview of Literature and a Review of Current Research

Natural Center for Biotechnology Information

Organic matter, humus, humates, humic acid, fulvic acid and humin – Their importance in soil fertility and plant health
Dr. Robert E. Pettit – emeritus associate professor Texas A&M University

Humic Products Trade Association

International Humic Substances Society (IHSS)