Humate And Seaweed Extracts
Humic acid substances blended with seaweed (Ascophyllum nodosum) extracts offer many advantages over either used alone. Both materials are natural products of nature. Both are environmentally safe, nontoxic and nonpolluting. Humates were formed from plant and animal remains over millions of years. Seaweeds are grown in nonpolluted areas and supply many plant growth substances not found in humates.
Humates are recognized for their humic acids, namely Humic, Fulvic, and Ulmic. Humic acid is known as a strong chelating agent. Fulvic acid and Ulmic acids are known for their influence on cell division and especially root development. Research indicates that both Fulvic acid type constituents and individual biochemical humate compounds are involved in the movement of micronutrients to plant roots. Collectively, these substances are buffering agents in addition to their cation exchange capacity. The elemental content of humic substances is different from that of seaweed. Humic and Fulvic acids have strong metal ion binding capabilities not found in seaweed. Fulvic acids are the most efficient in complexing metals. Humic acids function as a "sink" for polyvalent cations.
Adsorption by organic matter (Humates) is a key factor in the behavior of many pesticides in soil. Research has shown that the rate at which an adsorbable herbicide must be applied to the soil in order to achieve adequate weed control can vary as much as 20 fold, depending upon the amount of organic matter (Humates) and the nature of the soil.
Seaweed substances are derived from living material. They contain many plant growth substances, such as cytokinins, gibberelins, indoles, etc. Seaweed mannitol is a good chelator. Micro-nutrient content of seaweed is quite different from that of humate. Seaweed substances exert a major role in plant pest resistance.
The above comparisons of Humic acid and seaweed substances is very limited. There are many, many more important differences not mentioned. The advantage of blends of these two substances is that they are very compatible and compliment each other on the influence on plant growth and development. They are as natural as Mother Nature.
Soil Fertility, and Plant Growth
Our soil is our most important national resource--international resource. Most of us generally don’t think of soil in these terms, and we seldom take it seriously. Not only do we take it for granted, we don’t bother to exert ourselves to learn more about it. Therefore, we don’t understand it and we can’t properly care for it.
We point to top high yields and tremendous use of fertilizers that bring them about; then we sit back and relax. However, the yields of our main food crops--corn, wheat, and rice have all shown decreases in yields per acre over the past five years.
So, are we really solving this problem or merely masking the symptoms and hoping the problem will go away?
In order to understand soil fertility and how plants grow, we must have a basic understanding of the soil. While most of us learned something about the soil in school, perhaps long ago, we must not only refresh our memories, but we must reexamine soil in light of more recent experiences, new information, and new concepts.
Soil is the absolute basis of agriculture and, thus, of all human existence. We either eat plants grown in soil or animals which eat plants grown in soil. Wise use and management of the relatively thin upper layer, the topsoil, is vital for maintaining good health and a high standard of living.
What is Soil?
It is a very complex substance, not just “dirt.” Soil is a mixture of several components, sometimes defined as that part of the earth’s surface capable of supporting plant life. Soil is dynamic in that is teeming with life, millions of living plants and animals. Soil is an active mass--or it should be.
Let’s Examine the Parts of Soil
1. Minerals--about 45%--some of which are insoluble and not used by plants (sand, clay, iron oxides) and others which are soluble and provide valuable plant nutrients (calcium, potassium, magnesium). Mineral particles range in size from coarser gravel and sand to finer silt and the smallest clay particles, which are in the size range called colloidal.
2. Water--about 25%--as you well know, is needed as a part of plant cells (determines cell size) and to dissolve and translocate nutrients.
3. Air--about 25%--provides oxygen to roots and soil microorganisms, nitrogen to nitrogen fixing bacteria, and carbon dioxide as in decomposition, plus other gases.
4. Organic Matter--about 1-5%--includes the living soil organisms and the dead organic matter which decomposes to form humus. Humus has been broken down to very small particles in the colloidal size range.
5. Colloids--clay and humus contain colloidal particles. Colloidal particles are small, but are very important in soil because they have a great ability to hold certain plant nutrients.
Humus colloids can hold certain plant nutrients. Humus colloids can hold three times the nutrients that clay can. This is one of the reasons humus is such a valuable part of the soil mass.
The importance of organic matter in soil cannot be over emphasized. Soil life depends in large part on organic matter. The bacterial, earthworms, fungi, actinomycetes and nematodes all in some way depend on organic matter. Humus is a structureless colloidal material resulting from the decomposition (humification) of any type of dead organic matter ( mostly plant residues and animal remains). It is a complex mixture including proteins, lignin (plant cell walls); fats, carbohydrates, and organic acids.
These acids, humic acids and chelates, provide a storehouse of essential plant nutrients: for example, it stores in the soil nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur. It helps make some nutrients more soluble and available to plants. It contains substances that stimulate plant growth and improve quality. It provides a high water absorption and holding capacity. It contributes to good soil structure. It buffers the soil and protects plants from drastic changes in pH. Humus and soil life work together for plants benefits.
Humic Acid Chelation
Chelates are organic molecules that are able to hold and release certain metal ions, including such plant nutrients as calcium, iron, magnesium, cobalt, copper, zinc, and manganese. These elements are more easily absorbed by plant roots in chelated form than not chelated. Natural chelates are produced by soil microorganisms and are abundant in humus. They include various organic acids, namely humic, fulvic and ulmic acids.
Chelation goes on not only in the soil and in microbes, but in the cells of plants and in the bodies of animals and humans. How closely plants and humans are related can be explained by the extraordinary fact that both depend on a chelating chemical compound basic to their physiology. In man, it is the deep red heme that transports in the blood the oxygen liberated by plants, which themselves has a compound, green colored chlorophyll, that is so similar to heme that to depict its chemical formula, it is necessary only to substitute an iron atom for one of magnesium. It is another one of natures miracles. We will continue on this subject--soil fertility--as it relates to plants and how they grow. Plants are living, breathing, growing organisms, and anyone who makes a considerable part of his living growing plants should know more about them.
(compiled and written by Harsh saxena)
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