What are Humic Substances?

humic substances

Humic substances

Humic substances are major components of the natural organic matter in soil and water, also in lake sediments, peats, brown coals and shale. Humic substances can affect physical and chemical properties and improve soil fertility. The process of decay and transformation of plant and microbial is called humification.

Humic substances in soil and sediments can be divided into three main fractions: Humic acids(HA): They are the major extractable component of soil humic substances. They are black in color. Fulvic acids (FA): They are yellow in color. Humin: They are black in color. The HA and FA are extracted from soil using strong base (NaOH or KOH).Final products will be potassium humate and potassium fulvate. Humic aid isn’t soluble at low pH in water or acid, but soluble in alkali. Fulvic acid is completely soluble both in water, alkali and acid at any pH value. Humin is neither soluble in water, acid or in alkali at any pH value. They have four appearances of powder, flake, crystal and granule with different humic acid content, pH, water solubility, organic matter, moisture and so on.

Humic substances can be used widely in agriculture, chemical industry, pharmaceutical industry, ceramic industry, fish breeding and poultry raising and so on. They have many functions such as:

  • Chelate soil nutrients;

    humic substance

    humic substance

  • Improve nutrients uptake;
  • Reduce the need for nitrogen fertilizer;
  • Remove toxins from soils;
  • Solubilize minerals;
  • Improve soil structure;
  • Improve water holding capacity;
  • Promote germination of seeds and growth of root system;
  • Increase the yield and quality, improve the taste;
  • Improve immune system in anti-drought, anti-cold and insect resistance;
  • Act as feed additives.

In general, humic substances affect soil fertility through its cation exchange capacity, improve soil structure thus to increase water holding capacity. They largely promotes the buffering power and fertility of soil by improving the structure and increasing its organic matter. Also they can bind all nutrients and make nutrients more readily available to plants for uptake. They can work as natural seed germination and root stimulant, promote germination of seeds and growth of root system, thus increasing the capacity of root to take up both micro and macro nutrients. They are helpful to the growth of chlorophyll and can promote photosynthesis, helping improve the accumulation of sugar, fat and vitamin in plants. Finally they improve the quality of their seeds and taste of fruits. They can also decrease residues of herbicides, pesticide and heavy metals toxins in soil and chelate heavy metals in soil to avoid being absorbed by crops, so yield and quality will be greatly increased.

They can work as feed additive. When they  form a protection film, they can keep animals  from absorbing toxic residues, various heavy metals and any other harmful substances in animal feed. Thus they can promote animal growth and stimulate their immune system.

To sum up, humic substances can be used as base fertilizer, mixed additive in agriculture, adhesive in industry, feed additives in fish breeding and poultry raising  and antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory in pharmaceutical industry.

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