In 2006 I began using the Humic Acid family of products. Before I endorse a product, I want to do a “Proof of Concept” test. Simply this means I have been told or have a thought that the use of a nutritional amendment should result in a predictable outcome. Return an acceptable increase 7 years out of 10 and not hurt my income the other 3 years.
After 2 seasons of personal observation I was ready to share the knowledge of which form, Dry spread, Liquid, or Fulvic? The 4 R’s suggest the Right Source, Right Rate, Right Time, Right Place. I might include the Right Delivery System, and Right Agronomic Advisors!!
You will find salesmen recommending 200# dry spread year 1, 150# year 2, and 100# year 3. Great for sales, but not usually the best allocation of resources. For example, we see the quickest results in soils that are fairly tight clays or sandy and rocky. Soils with an excess salinity and short of organic matter. Organic Matter is roughly 57% humus and Humic Acids are an introduction of Pure humus if they are from a pure vein, Amen? Thus, the need to know what all sin my Humic source.
For the 2008 Peoria Farm Show, I wanted to provide a visual learning center to share actual visible examples of the changes that we occurring in clay soils with and without an application of dry humic Acid at a 100#/acre rate. Also were samples of Prairie soils with and without the humic, sandy clay loams, and for fun some black sands I saw along a road without humic. As an independent consultant, I needed to bring value to the marketplace that you would not receive from the typical outlets.
This project was based around clear plastic rectangular storage containers containing the different soil types, with and without humic material that had been in the soil 6 weeks and 4 different seed treatments. A nice cross section of current and proposed improvements I wanted to introduce.
Having the seeds placed next to the outside of the containers allowed us to view the speed of germination, radical root growth, and hair root development. The quicker we can get corn to sustain its needs the less we would be affected by delayed emergence depleting the food reserves from today’s smaller seed kernels.
As a discussion starter I had found a winner. 4 tiers of young corn plants from spike to first set of true leaves caught the attention of the truly dedicated farmers. Wednesday morning here came 2 guys who asked what the project was and I explained it was humic based. Then I heard the, “You and 400 other guys!”.
After establishing enough creditability to expand the conversation, we decided I could stop by their office. I met a mentor through that exchange. When I arrived at their office and started a conversation with one partner, the mentor took my material into the back and studied 3 products under the 6,000X microscope. I had aced the Trust but Verify procedure!!
The Humic Industry had mired itself poor quality, over diluted, dusty, low rate, high margin greed that spawned the (sometimes still well deserved “Snake Oil”) terminology.
Humic DNA includes the location of the veins, were they formed under fresh water or salt water. What was buried? Trees, Prairies, Ferns, Reeds, Peat, Animals, etc. How much sand, heavy metals or other impurities were to become part of the future excavation? How is the product harvested? How is the integrity of the product protected? Quality Control includes harvesting only humic and not the surrounding clay or sand. What is the percentage of Humic Acid? Fulvic Acid? Humin (the portion that will not respond to either an acid or base and becomes sediment)?
We need to employ the same amount of scrutiny and passion to understanding each of our nutritional inputs as we do the seed genetics, trait packaging, and seed treatments. What components are there? How do they affect my biological processes that facilitate the uptake of nutrition? Are those amendments working for my best chance of producing an efficient yield?
Commodity Humates are as prevalent as commodity seed. Read my next article Humic Mine Personalities, where I will compare/contrast what to expect from the North American veins where you can source your Humic and Fulvic products.
The good news is that there are forms available to match every delivery system you have on your farm or access to utilize. Also there are many honest and helpful Agronomists that are ready and willing to assist you as you assemble your nutritional package each year.