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Humate Information and Research

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Gerry Miller, Dec 1, 2007.

  1. Gerry Miller

    Gerry Miller LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 504


    Dr. Robert E. Pettit
    Emeritus Associate Professor Texas A&M University

  2. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    Gerry, Very informative. I couldn't find a date referrence on that paper, do you know when it was done? The writer points out something very important.

    "Generally these synthetic humic molecules have performed poorly in terms of their ability to improve. soil fertility or plant growth. These products should not be defined as humate based fertilizer ingredients since their performance under field conditions are very erratic. A chemical analysis of their molecular features reveals that these "synthetics" lack many of the properties of naturally occurring humic substances. They lack the molecular features which improve soil fertility and are frequently incompatible with plant metabolic processes. Others industrial groups have obtained from mature, alkali insoluble lignite like coals, treated these materials with degradative and oxidation processes to produce smaller alkali soluble "humic" solutions. The resulting oxidized mixtures from black coals or lignite coals are termed "regenerated humic acids" or "ulmins". These ulmins have characteristics which are similar to humic acids (HAs) derived from low grade lignites, however are quite different chemically, thus the term "regenerated" is a misnomer. Them is no evidence that these "ulmins" " have desirable fertilizer grade properties."

    This is a very important point as I have worked with several golf courses and lawn and landscape companies that have said almost the same thing, " I seem to get results one time and not another or Jim over at golf course XXX swears by it but we have not seen the same results".

    It is very important to know what the source of the product is that you are applying. in other words, all "humates" are not created equal. The term, humate, is used far too loosely and needs to be defined as strictly as fertilizers are as far as source materials for the product
  3. Gerry Miller

    Gerry Miller LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 504


    The only referrence date is the copyright of 2007. But you could probably get that info from Texas A & M.

    Here is some additional infro:

    Humic Acid

    By Dr. Elaine Ingham:

    Humic acid works on chlorine and as far as Chloramies, to the best of our knowledge, the general answer is yes. The specific information has to be dealt with in a case-by-case fashion, however.

    Humic acids are in general, very good at complexing all kinds of things. The complex is organic, not inorganic.

    Reduce means to place hydrogen ions in the structure.
    Oxidize means oxygen put in the structure.

    Molasses contains some small amount of humic - like materials, hence the dark brown color. However, the complexing ability of a humic acid material is far beyond that of molasses, UNLESS the organic molecules have been destroyed by acid preservatives.

    The complexes formed are not either reductions or oxidations, most likely, but complexes with the organic material. Oxidation and reduction are very inorganic chemical reactions. When you deal with organic materials, the inorganic often does not explain the reactions. When organic matter interacts with inorganic, the reaction is more enzymatic not simple oxidation or reduction.

    So, in order to not go into this amazingly complex world of organic reactions, many of us might take the "easy way out" and mutter something like "yep, reactions LIKE oxidation and reduction.

    When an enzyme works on two materials, the reaction is not a simple oxidation - reduction reaction, but something that takes MUCH less heat of formation and is much more stable than the inorganic solution.

    In fact, chemists claimed bio-chemists were crazy and deluded for well over 100 years in the development of science. Heat of formation REQUIREs a certain amount of heat, or it won't happen. The reverse reaction is not possible. Except when biological systems are working. Then the reverse reaction can often happen.

    Probably the simplest thing is to say that positive - negatives charges have to balance, even in bio-chemistry, but the set of positivies and negatives include any form or any material, not just hydrogen and oxygen. So, when humic materials complex inorganic materails, the chloride ion is bound up in a network of carbon molecules.
  4. Gerry Miller

    Gerry Miller LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 504

    Humus: Still a Mystery
    by Paul Sachs

    NOTE: A glossary has been provided to define the some of the scientific terms used throughout this article.

    Humus is like air in a sense. It is abundant, renewable and essential for life to exist on this planet. However, humus is so much more complex than air that even after hundreds of years of research, no one really knows exactly what it is.

    The term "Humus" doesn't really describe anything specific. Its like using the word "dog" to describe a German Short Haired Pointer. Humus is sometimes defined as the end product from the decomposition of organic residues. But since it never remains in a static condition, it is hard to refer to it as an end product.

    Furthermore, the composition of humus in one soil can be so structurally, chemically and visibly different from humus in another soil that it is difficult to refer to them both as the same thing.

    Over the years, a lot of information has been gathered about humus: Certain components have been identified; the nature and properties are fairly well known and the factors that control its existence are pretty much accepted as common knowledge. However, to date, an indisputably accurate method of extracting humus from soil has yet to be discovered which, in of itself, severely limits the study of this material.

    Attempts to define humus date back to the time of the Romans, but it wasn't until 1761 when it was first linked to the decomposition of organic matter by J. G. Wallerius. Back then it was thought that plants were able to derive nutrients directly from humus but in 1840, Justus von Liebig discovered that plants can only assimilate soil nutrients in an inorganic form and that plant food must be changed into mineral salts first. Liebig believed that this occurred from chemical reactions in the soil. About 25 years later, attention was called to the role of microorganisms in the mineralization of nutrients from humus. It was in the early 1900's that most of the significant research on humus occurred. However, a lot of the information produced became somewhat obsolete at the dawn of the chemo-agricultural age in the early 1940's.

  5. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    Paul is an amazing guy and a great resource for organic products, he knows his stuff. Have you seen all of the books that he has written or helped write

    I just want to point out to people, please do not confuse Humates with Humus. Humate is a mined product, it is mined just like coal or gold. In fact most humate products on the market are lingenite (sp?) which is almost coal.

    Humus is the result of organic substances composting and plants growing in the soil with beneficial microrganisms. It is normally called fertile soil

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