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Are Humates for real?

Posted by Timomac Chicago suburbs (My Page) on
Mon, Jan 7, 13 at 14:01

Can anyone who has tried humates on their garden or lawns share their experience?

I'd like to give my lawn some help since it was Chem Lawn-ed for a long time before we moved in.

Anything to help my tomatoes grow wins as well.

There plenty of claims out there but - did you get results?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Are Humates for real?

sounds like another way to plunder the habitat just like peat moss collecting does.

go and get some composted humus from the sewerage farm be the same thing and far less damaging to the habitat. if the claimants are to be believed about decayed rain forests then this is at the same level as fossil fuel use hey?

they tried their bio-char story now this, maybe your subject line should have read are humans for real in this promotion, those that are aiming to make money from it.

we use no additives in our gardens apart from green mulches and our food scraps, all part of recycling. we have to stop raping the planet.

len

Here is a link that might be useful: lens garden page


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Humates and humic acid are formed in soil with the addition of organic matter. Purchasing something labeled as "humates" is probabky a waste of your money that would be better spent on organic matter.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

I tried Manafees Humectates (from Fedco -- I may or may not be spelling it correctly) a few years ago (I'm assuming that's a form of Humates) and got absolutely no results.

What about compost tea for your lawn and tomatoes? Much cheaper, easy to spray over a large area. Aerate it for best results.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Compost and compost tea have the same stuff in them.

It's kind of like buying pills with stuff in them that you could get eating vegetables - it's beneficial stuff, but also obtainable without spending $ on it.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

" composted humus from the sewerage farm be the same thing "

Not so. A pound of highly active humate such as the type mined in coastal GA and north FL is not at all the same as a pound of composted municipal sludge.

I have used the type I mention above as well as the southwestern more ancient type. I found the former had a remarkable effect on grass here in MA, and also has had notable effect on annual crops in FL sand. The southwestern type does not seem to have any effect, I won't buy it again.

That said, I wouldn't go out of my way to ship humate long distances. I buy it in FL because it comes from nearby.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Glad you mention aerating...

My lawn, though reasonably healthy, has a ton of thatch and is ... clumpy. Too many ankle twisting clumps of growth strangled by thatch. So...

For the lawn I was thinking of aerating, giving it a light top dressing of compost, mebbe course or green sand, and some kind of micro/myco/fert supplement - just like I've seen greens keepers do in the spring to help the greens root and fill in.

Then I read a little about prehistoric humates that are the answer to clay and compacted lawns and how it will release nutrients trapped in the clay, allow for deeper root penetration, give the micros extra food etc. It isn't fertilizer but a lawn conditioner that works on the soil over time, revitilizes your lawn's soil.

Sounds great! Good for the tomatoes too if it's so awesome, I think.

Yet, mostly all the info I can find out there is vendor propaganda. I don't hear too many folks here talk about it much.

I just think there would be more people celebrating its virtue if were so awesome.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

IME, very few gardeners have tried humates. Many chem-free golf-courses use them, as well chem-free or organic orchards. Permanent plantings seem to get more benefit than annuals.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

I'm not the most computer literate guy on earth and cannot figure out how to put a PDF file into the URL link so here is a cut and paste for Google if you care to get the total scoop on humates.

ORGANIC MATTER, HUMUS, HUMATE, HUMIC ACID,
FULVIC ACID, AND HUMIN:
Dr. Robert E. Pettit

This post was edited by novascapes on Wed, Jan 9, 13 at 5:43


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RE: Are Humates for real?

You would think University Ag schools would be studying it. One can Google "Studies Humate" and find some interesting stuff. Here's an excerpt from a 1-page writeup by the Univ. of WI (2002):

"Now let�s go to the research reports on the effects of humic acid additions on turfgrass. I have but one in my files. A search of the 17,000-plus entries in the Turfgrass Information Center revealed no reports where "humate" was a key word, four reports with "humic acid" asa key word, and three reports with "growth stimulant" as a key word. Only two of the seven literature citations were of relevance to this article. Both were studies that demonstrate how strongly humic acid can absorb fungicides and herbicides. Indications are that surface applications of humic acid or humate can significantly reduce the effectiveness of systemic pesticides by reducing their absorption by plant roots and soil-borne pathogens and insects.

"The single research report in my files is fora study in which 14 "non-nutritional growth enhancers" were applied to a creeping bentgrass putting green. Several humic acid and humate products were among those tested. The focus of the study was the effects of the products on rooting and root development. Data averaged over all rooting depths for the entire growing season revealed that non of the products significantly affected bentgrass root length or root numbers.

"Because so little research seems to have been done with humic acid products on turfgrass, there exists the possibility that there are situations where significant positive responses can occur. My assessment is that we should not expect positive effects over a wide range of conditions. Other than the possible reductions in the effectiveness of pesticide applications when the humate or humic acid resides on the soil surface, the products are rather harmless when applied at rates recommended by manufacturers. There is, however, not justification at this time for using them on more than a small scale, trial basis. Humic acid will not compensate for poor turfgrass cultural practices. "

Granted, this is a decade old article, and a lot of work might have been done since then.

Here is a link that might be useful: Humate and Humic Acid


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Keep in mind that there are people out there selling coal dust as humates.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Well, I'm not sold. It sounds a bit miraculous and too few people are testifyin!

Gonna stick with making happy worms.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

If you can get effective humate for a decent price then I think it's worth it, in certain conditions.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Universities do study humates...they just prefer to call it "organic amendments" (from soil to "teas") rather than creating a market for people to isolate them and sell them to consumers at extremely jacked up prices.

Besides, "humates" covers way too broad of a definition based on the products out there sold as humates.

Also besides, a soil with a healthy organic fraction with a good pH range is teaming with many of the benefits concentrated humates provide.

They're popular with golf courses (and professional ball fields) because those turfs demand a solid surface with high drainage...which doesn't lend itself to nutrient holding. They can't lop on organic soils or have large compost piles to make "tea"...


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RE: Are Humates for real?

They're popular with golf courses (and professional ball fields) because those turfs demand a solid surface with high drainage...which doesn't lend itself to nutrient holding. They can't lop on organic soils or have large compost piles to make "tea"...

Well said nc-crn!

I agree with everyone that adding organic matter will do just fine! :")


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RE: Are Humates for real?

There is a lot of snake oil being sold out there. The article posted below may help determine what to look for when purchasing it.
The article also goes on to say your compost may or may not contain fulvic acid (Humates).

Here is a link that might be useful: HUMIC ACID


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RE: Are Humates for real?

I think that the OP is talking about mined material that is dried and sold as "humate". So far as I know, the only sources for that in NA are as I said the southwest, mostly NM (that is the source that is sometimes condemned as being "coal dust", and I am inclined to agree), and much smaller operations in the region around the st mary's river between FL and GA.

This latter source is what is referred to as "young" humate and it is indeed quite different from the southwestern stuff. As nc points out, humate is best used for problem conditions like golf courses, and like florida sand soil where maintaining sufficient OM is exceedingly difficult by other means. We have found humate very helpful there. It serves the same role as biochar. I understand that a common reaction to these concepts is to simply say that these are "snake oil" products for people too lazy to make compost, however it usually turns out that this reaction comes from gardeners who have only gardened in favorable climates and soils for a typical temperate-latitude OM decay cycle, and in such conditions there is no particular need for humate.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

But regardless of whether it works, if I had a typical residential lawn in need of organic matter - as opposed to a golf course with demanding conditions - I would spread sifted compost on it, rather than investing a lot in such a product. I can pretty much guarantee it'll be cheaper, and the compost has all kinds of OTHER stuff in it as a bonus.


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Agreed, a typical residential lawn does not need humate.

I am going to buy a ton sack of it shortly and stash it at my florida place, in case I ever need to rely on food-production there. Humate isn't perishable, so a good investment. Nor does it leach away once in the soil.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Novascapes, here's a clickable link to the essay you posted. I tried to read it but it was heavy. Since synthetics have never been used on my land, we have little rain, and the well water is alkaline I think there may be some humic acids around.

Timomac, I found I had the best lawn grass when I spread sugar and alfalfa to feed the organisms. Made a recognizable difference. I need to do it again this year. I think when stopping synthetic fertilizing it will take a bit of time for the SFW to return to health and abundance but if you follow good organic principles it will happen. UCG, alfalfa, sugar, and top-dress with fine compost.

Do you ensure that your tomatoes are very deep rooted? That was one of the 'secrets' I found to growing good tomatoes. I get tired of repeating myself on forums so if you don't know how to do this start a thread and I'll tell how I did it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Organic Matter, Humus, Humate, Humic Acid, Fulvic Acid, and Humin


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Thanks for the responses! Do you think aerating the lawn would help reestablishing the sfw? With a top dressing of the alfalfa, compost, UCG, sugar (first I've heard of sugar), etc afterwards? I was thinking in early spring.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Thanks for the responses! Do you think aerating the lawn would help reestablishing the sfw? With a top dressing of the alfalfa, compost, UCG, sugar (first I've heard of sugar), etc afterwards? I was thinking in early spring.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Aerating your lawn will not do much to establish the Soil Food Web unless you also add adequate amopunts of organic matter which will supply your soil with the humates it needs as well as feed the Soil Food Web. Sugar is not something any lawn would really need, anymore then any of us would need it, but you do need to know something about your soil to properly care for it. Talk with the people at your local office of the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service about having a soil test done so you know what your soils pH and levels of P, K, Ca, and Mg are and then dig in with these simple soil tests
1) Soil test for organic matter. From that soil sample put enough of the rest to make a 4 inch level in a clear 1 quart jar, with a tight fitting lid. Fill that jar with water and replace the lid, tightly. Shake the jar vigorously and then let it stand for 24 hours. Your soil will settle out according to soil particle size and weight. For example, a good loam will have about 1-3/4 inch (about 45%) of sand on the bottom. about 1 inch (about 25%) of silt next, about 1 inch (25%) of clay above that, and about 1/4 inch (about 5%) of organic matter on the top.

2) Drainage. Dig a hole 1 foot square and 1 foot deep and fill that with water. After that water drains away refill the hole with more water and time how long it takes that to drain away. Anything less than 2 hours and your soil drains� too quickly and needs more organic matter to slow that drainage down. Anything over 6 hours and the soil drains too slowly and needs lots of organic matter to speed it up.

3) Tilth. Take a handful of your slightly damp soil and squeeze it tightly. When the pressure is released the soil should hold together in that clump, but when poked with a finger that clump should fall apart.

4) Smell. What does your soil smell like? A pleasant, rich earthy odor? Putrid, offensive, repugnant odor? The more organic matter in your soil the more active the soil bacteria will be and the nicer your soil will smell.

5) Life. How many earthworms per shovel full were there? 5 or more indicates a pretty healthy soil. Fewer than 5, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, indicates a soil that is not healthy.
to see what else your soil may need.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

  • Posted by RpR_ 3-4 (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 12, 13 at 12:31

Aerate first then top-dress and yes it should help.

When I landscaped full-time aerating helped most lawns.

To answer the basic question of this thread, YES, humates are for real.

This post was edited by RpR_ on Sat, Jan 12, 13 at 14:08


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RE: Are Humates for real?

"Sugar is not something any lawn would really need, anymore then any of us would need it"

Kimm, not attempting to attack you, but I can't really let these kinds of statements pass without comment on a forum that is supposed to have serious discussion about plants and the soil that supports them. The implication that a human and a grass plant would be affected by sugar similarly is so nonsensical that one has to wonder what you are thinking?

Do we want to explore more of these kinds of comparisons to see if they are useful? Plants can tolerate nearly unlimited exposure to the sun's direct rays, for example. Humans cannot, in fact more than a short time is very damaging. Following the implicit logic in your statement above, we would then consider greatly reducing sun exposure for plants.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

The major (and almost only) thing sugar in a soil would do is provide a carb source for fungi (usually a healthy/good fungus when seeing a positive benefit). Other microbes could benefit, but they mostly do just fine on their own.

Humans need carbs to live...fungi need carbs to thrive...grass/plants don't do a whole lot with sugar carbs, but it can help a symbiotic benefit if good and receptive fungi happen to exist in your soil. That said, if your soil is full of bad/harmful fungi, it'll also feed that.

Still, I'd save the sugar for iced tea. Even as far as a carb source goes it's a fast-moving one through the soil when wet. Some people add a bit to their compost "starter/booster" mixes, though.

If anything, I would personally consider it a minor to ignorable consideration in almost any application.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Sugar is touted by enough gardeners that it would be worth a try to restore valuable microbes to a Chem-Lawn. Also comes under "if you haven't tried it, don't knock it". I had obvious and positive results from my experiment. Sugar is cheap. Agricultural molasses is even cheaper and apparently, I've read, contains fumic acid. I've used both.

"MOLASSES:
 This is food, which feeds the natural bacteria and microbes whose role in the soil is to release the natural nutrients and minerals locked up in the organic material."

Quote from here: "Organic lawn care"

"More organic lawn care"

We only have to remember that the soil, while a medium, is a living thing and everything we do has a positive or negative effect, rarely a neutral one. Sometimes really simple things do work.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

>"if you haven't tried it, don't knock it"

It's been tried...it's been studied.

As far as molasses goes, it's a rather expensive soil amendment with short term benefits. As far as long term benefits go, it's generally only good in high clay soils for loosening soil structure...and still, it's a bit of an expensive way to go about it.

In the short term it can boost microbial activity, feed fungi, and make available N that would ordinarily be tied up thanks to increased microbial activity. This increased activity can also help break down high-C source materials, which may be beneficial in compost piles. It also adds a bit of K to the soil, which is a minor, but measurable benefit.

Most people who already have a healthy soil with decent organic matter content can go about boosting the health of their soils without getting expensive amendments involved...or "charging" their organic matter via healthy compost additions.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

I feel it's also worth mentioning, especially in the application of molasses, that there's a ton of recipes out there for applications/sprays/drenches which greatly underestimate how much of an addition you need to make to get a desired effect.

There's a lot of recipes which call for a few tablespoons, a 1/2 cup, etc to make a brew...which is fine if you're charging/applying to a small area (such as a small bed or compost pile), but is almost negligible if you're going to spread it over a few 100 sq ft. of lawn.

If you're brewing a compost tea, to feed/charge/release-nutrients of what you're brewing in the container, itself, it's a great use...especially with aeration of the brew.

As far as flat application in a spray/drench to actually work on the soil you're applying it to, you need to up your dosage. That can get a bit costly vs benefit.


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Seems to me when I was doing research at the U of FL veggie crops dept. there was a guy named Dr. Sal Locasio doing vegetable research in FL with humates/humic acid, go find it yourself.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

If you want help with your lawn, I would suggest going to the Gardenweb Lawn Forum. There is also an organic forum but it does not get as much traffic as the regular forum. Post a detailed description about what's going wrong or what you think is wrong. Be sure to put your location as diagnosing lawn problems is very location specific. If you live in SoCal, then you have to be very specific due to the winds and hills in the area. If you really want to tune up your lawn, I suggest you get a soil test ($20) from Logan Labs in Ohio. Nobody else will give you such extensive results for less than $100. But that is only if you want to push toward the Lawn of the Month.

If you would like to learn more about organic lawn care, click here. I wrote that FAQ many years ago. While I have learned a lot since then, the FAQ is good for a basic understanding of what works and why. Here is a picture of a zoysia lawn with a treatment of alfalfa pellets. It was posted on the lawn forum back in 2011 by mrmumbles.


It is easy to see the improved color, density, and growth.

LuckyGal, you sound like a nice person. I would like to gently suggest that you ignore the advice at the two links you posted. The one about the sugar with the link to the Dirt Doctor is relatively harmless. The Zimmerman guy looks like a local guy with a local perspective. He might know what works on his lawn but he needs to get out and see the world. He could do that by going to the GardenWeb Lawn Forum, for example. Spend a few years reading there and then go be a guru. His advice to over seed a thin lawn with fescue is such a narrow recommendation that it is meaningless outside his personal lawn. It completely overlooks the reason for why the lawn might be thin. There are six very popular types of turf grass. Thinning happens on all of them, but the solution is different for most of them.

I could go on but it is much easier to talk about what works for specific situation than it is to come in the back door and explain why someone's wild ideas are not worth addressing. I feel that way about Howard Garrett's suggestions for dry molasses or sugar. There is one time that using sugar can help a lawn. Using it monthly or even seasonally, to me, is a waste of money and time. If your soil is healthy, the grass will produce plenty of sugar to feed the soil microbes. That is one of the functions of grass.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

I don't doubt that putting sugar on a lawn makes little sense, but it isn't because of the fact that eating a lot of refined sugar is bad for a human.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

An interesting analysis here, though I don't know what the credentials of the author are:

Here is a link that might be useful: decent soil, don't bother


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Dr. Faust is a bit of a wingnut. He's one of those "modern medicine is designed to kill us" types. He believes we've "broken" nature and he's there to sell you a few pounds of cure in humic and fulvic acid amendments.

That said, unlike other wingnuts that share this belief (like the computer technical writer turned "health ranger" Mike Adams)...Dr F actually has training in his field.

He's one of those guys that believes chlorinated water is dangerous, kills nutrients and causes cancer, etc etc

He used to (may still) push the belief that you can cure and prevent diseases by growing food in nutrient rich soil. Tuberculosis was one of the things he was pushing in the 1980s as a cure you could get by adding amendments to your soil.

This is all quite convenient since he happens to produce and sell these soil amendments.

I'd approach any of his work with extreme caution.

-edit-

I just found this online...evidently he now considers chimself a shaman faith healer and has nixed the Dr for a Rev title. Whatever pays the bills...

http://www.sun-angel.com/medical/view.php?MID=25

This post was edited by nc-crn on Sat, Jan 12, 13 at 23:11


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Most everything I find about adding sugar to soils is anecdotal, "my tomatoes have a better flavor since I added sugar to the soil they were planted in". My tomatoes have a much better flavor when they are grown in my soil that is well amended with organic matter, compost, and that soil is well mulched with shredded leaves, in fact most everything grows better and is bothered by fewer insect pests when grown in the soil I have that is well amended with organic matter.
Plants manufacture sugar by photosynthesis and plant roots exude sugar which helps attract some of the fungi that form that symbiotic relationship with plants known as the mycorrhiza relationship. From that bit of knowledge I think some people have hypothecized that adding sugar to soil is good. It is unnecessary and is expensive and really does little to benefit the Soil Food Web. Molasses, a complex sugar, is different. Unprocessed cane or beet sugar may also be different because they will have other nutrients then the sucrose, glucose, fructose empty calories.
Make your soil into a good healthy soil by adding ample quantities of organic matter, nothing more is really needed.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Ok, that's a start, at least you are beginning to define what you mean by "sugar".

NC, I suspected Faust had/has an agenda. However, that little piece impresses me because it allows for the logical likelihood that humate is unnecessary or even unhelpful in some situations, notably moist soils with high OM levels.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

"From that bit of knowledge I think some people have hypothecized that adding sugar to soil is good. It is unnecessary and is expensive and really does little to benefit the Soil Food Web. Molasses, a complex sugar, is different. Unprocessed cane or beet sugar may also be different because they will have other nutrients then the sucrose, glucose, fructose empty calories.
Make your soil into a good healthy soil by adding ample quantities of organic matter, nothing more is really needed."

Yup, everything Kimmsr said here is 100% TRUE.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

"Yup, everything Kimmsr said here is 100% TRUE"

Is that said with a straight face?

I think a better rating would be more like 90% in my opinion.
'Truth' includes more than true facts. Some of the slyist deceivers tell only that part of the truth to sell their product, get re-elected, or get their view bought into. They leave out important parts because they would weaken their case.

I am not implying that kimmsr is doing those things. I believe he is fairly sincere and is a valuable contributor here.....I just disagree with some things.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

  • Posted by RpR_ 3-4 (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 14, 13 at 16:54

Well Wayne it is one hundred percent true if on has that magic compost that has the exact amounts of EVERYTHING needed at ALL TIMES.

But I have tried frammin on the jim-jam and frippin on the krotz and I have yet to find that magic compost.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Also have not found the magic compost here either, although I did not know about the jim-jam framming...


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Some human-plant analogies work fine. Beer, for example. I need beer as a nutrient. It's also beneficial to plants - if applied after filtering through a human.

What was the question?


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Magic compost? Are you saying there really is a use for sugar in a field crop? Wow, even if there was I would have no idea what thats like? You know, to throw money away.....


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RE: Are Humates for real?

A spraying of molasses water will always stimulate microbial growth, that would be an example. It would also stimulate the germination and growth of young weeds, before tilling in, as will beer. That was and maybe still is a traditional practice in some parts of Europe.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Saw a 1/2 hour long infomercial on the rural tv channel last night about this outfit touting humates/humic acid to large scale farmers of many agronomic crops. Sadly, instead of showing trials of how the stuff they sell had actually performed, they mostly had some guy talking about it. The whole program made claims about performance but baked it up with nothing and then made more claims, this pattern continued throughout. I wish I could remember the name of the company who made the program to sell their stuff but, I don't. Watching the program made me very hesitant to try humates due to the poor effort made by this outfit, their claims seem dubious in the light of nothing to back them up.
The program was so poor they may be doing a disservice to humates, pushed me away some and I was willing to sit and listen with an open mind for a 1/2 hour.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

A certain company is touting Leornardite as a great source of Humates, is this just a expensive ammendment that is no better than Organic matter?


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RE: Are Humates for real?

If you apply "commercial" humates, chances are you're going to see some positive results if applied properly and in a great enough amount.

That said...cost vs. alternatives.

Many home gardeners can afford to supply these humic substances -much- cheaper using compost, homemade compost teas, or just general organic amendments.

Also, if you don't have a good organic fraction built up in your soil they will not persist and you'll have to keep buying/supplying "commercial" humates.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

NC, I would challenge your last assertion. What are you basing that on? Humates do not break down further on a time scale that would have any effect on a human lifetime. I will bet you dollars to doughnuts that when I get to my pasture in florida I'll be able to find humate particles that I spread three years ago.

There is a reason that the florida citrus industry is paying attention to humates now. Cost is relative when measured against going out of business and spending a lot of money on cides meanwhile.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

I'm basing it on cation/anion exchange capacity and availability.

Technically, you could get that with clay, but without humic substances there's not much release from it's holding/attraction to clay mineral layers.

Humates can be viewed as a catalyst for soil activity. It's not much on it's own. It's what it does to the availability of minerals in the soils it's applied to.


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I think pnbrown's point was that you should not have to keep adding them constantly. If they really are humates, by definition they don't decompose further.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Ah.

Yeah, some decompose quickly and some (most) slowly depending on pH, moisture, heat, and the type of humate source material used.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

I will begin hunting for humate particles that I have spread in the last few years. it isn't something I have though of doing but if I can't find any I'll have to give more credence to NC's assertion.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

There's a wide range of "humates" out there that will degrade according to particle size, type of humate, weathering, etc.

They're unavailable to plant/soil use unless they're breaking down.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

If that is true then there would be no superior point to them, certainly not at the prices that they fetch.

Surely I have not encountered a compost that gets similar results in very nutrient-poor and overly-drained soils, after much use of compost and manure in that type of soil. The main question will be whether areas that have had them for a year or two now will continue to give good results without additional humate added. As with compost and biochar, I don't add humate without some mineralizer like a broad-spectrum rock powder.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

There is a point to slow dissolving acidic substances, such as mineral humates.

Along with the minerals/nutrients the mineral humate sources contain, the various acids released cause other nutrients in the soil to release or otherwise cause an exchange in the soil that was held.

In a round-about way, think of a grain of clay as the center of an atom and nutrients/elements are being held onto it (and within layers of it) as "electrons surrounding the nucleus". When the humic acids hit it, they exchange out or release these "electrons" as plant/soil available. This is a kinda crude way to describe it, but it kinda works.

pH, weathering, and the size of the mineral humate particle will determine how quickly these acids can work their way into the soil. If you place a 3" rock of a mineral humate an inch in the ground it won't work as quickly or as effectively as grinding that same rock into .1mm grit...that said, it won't persist as long in such a small size, either.

Also, the word "humates" is kinda catch-all...for some people it's a mineral, for others it's organic matter...both can contain humic substances/acids.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

My understanding was that mineral humate (by this I think you mean the mined products commonly marketed as "humates") does a similar job to clay particles, IOW, greatly increases the CEC of very low CEC soils. Soils entirely or almost entirely lacking clay particles, like most florida sand soils, for example.

Thermic sands, due to being warm or hot almost all the time, and to having no clay, consequently have extremely low levels of SOM. Less than 1% is not uncommon for a pasture. This is where humate logically would have a proportionately immense effect, since unlike typical composts the high temperatures should not "burn up" humate and that is what we seem to be seeing, based on experiments at two locations. However, the experiments are very new, so the longer-term duration of the humate effect is pretty well unknown to us at this point.

Faust raises the idea that humates work best in alkaline soils with low SOM, so that is another factor. The sandy soils I am dealing with are slightly to fairly acidic, so that may limit the benefit of humate.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

For those new to this subject, I'll clarify what I know so far about mined humate sources:

The most commonly seen on the market are the "leonardites", from the southwestern US. These are either mined specifically for sale as humate or perhaps in some cases are a byproduct of coal-mining. There is some criticism of this type as being microbially inactive and possibly useless for horticulture. Although I tried these in a very small quantity I did not do so in an isolated enough manner to say whether there was much effect.

The other source I know about is humate that I am fairly certain is a byproduct of heavy metal mining operations in north florida and south GA (the heavy metal sands are often mixed up with ancient bogs is what I suspect). These are rapidly becoming available in that region as growers are starting to use them and so secondary businesses are recycling the mining byproducts for that use. This is so called "young" humate and is supposed to be highly active with microbes.They are generally taken from saturated environments whereas the leonardites have been dry for millennia.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Very interesting info. I know from env. chemistry what these are, but have never learned much about their use as amendments or where the products come from.

Are the microbes in the 'active' products special in some way? There are (of course) plenty of microbes in the soil already, so a sprinkling of humates would rapidly be incorporated into the biological environment. I am curious why it would make a difference whether the product came pre-loaded with microbes.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Tox, I think that again this where the results will have everything to do with the soil environment in question. As mentioned upthread the best results are seen in the worst soil conditions, where SOM is very low and consequently so is the desired microbial population. I think that is why the humate is largely sold to the golf course industry. Most crop-production operations are done on high quality soils, so to spend money on humate makes little economic sense.

As I mentioned, the florida citrus industry is an exception. The crop is high-value but the soils are very poor to start with and have been very degraded by decades of salt fertilizer and fungicides. So some operations are finding it does make sense to buy humate.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Humates seem to be material high in humic and fulvic acids...Old material in beds that are finished decomposing ...as long as they remain in their present situation.

Besides firming up golf courses, what would be the value of them in gardens? Would it be to give the sandy soil some body that could hold nutrients and organic matter?


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RE: Are Humates for real?

If used with nothing else, what good will the best humate in the world do on calcareous soils? Seems their acidic action would be pretty limp compared to my highly calcareous soil's ability to keep micros. bound up unless I perhaps dumped an awful lot of the stuff on the ground.

calculated from a soil analysis result once how much ag. sulfur I'd have to add to the top foot of my soil to neutralize 90% of the bicarbonates(just for fun) and realized I could not afford to do that for my garden, literally. From that, it seems unlikely to me that humic acid would be anywhere near affordable and I'd likely get a lot less bang for the buck, so to speak. The minerals are there in my soil, that isn't a problem.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Some humates, such as Leonardite, actually react with soils with high pH and release their humic acids.

It's most organic matter (very hard organic matter) bound with aluminum/P/K/sulfur and other minor substances.

It's rather slow-release, but it does "decompose" well in alkaline soils.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Wayne, to your last question: precisely so.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

They have some acid functional groups but they are very weak acids, and their usefulness is in providing ion exchange sites for nutrients rather than pH adjustment. At least that's how I understand it.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Oddly enough, my soil is pH 7.2 or 7.3, not horribly high but all those darned bicarbonates just tie up all the micros and won't let them go until they get neutralized with an acid and warm, moist soil. That's where the ag. S comes in. I'd irrigate with sulfuric injected water (bad bicarbonates there too) but that would be a hassle I no longer would enjoy at this point in my life.

So, will the humates cause an acidic reaction in the soil sufficient to get the micros free from the bicarbonates and then weakly bound to the humates?


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RE: Are Humates for real?

I've been using three different products that contain humates or humic acid for years with absolutely wonderful results.

I first ran across a product called Rich Earth, while in Williamsburg, VA. It sat around for a few years, started to clean out my shed and found it. I put a teaspoon in the water which I put onto a nearly dead plant and, within 24 hours I had new growth. The plant came back with a vengeance. I then started experimenting with the rest of the five pound bag and found humic acid was like fertilizer on steroids, it worked that well.

Then I ran across humic acid in a product from Nature's Lawn called Aerify Plus, which also contained a surfactant, helping my clay to break up. The humic acid gave my lawn a much darker green appearance and it stayed green even through most of a drought. After two years of using Aerify Plus I switched to an All-in-one product for my lawn, which also contained humic acid. I continued buying 25 pound bags of Rich Earth, for both my garden and my lawn and it looked like I had the best green thumb in the world.

At the top of this thread someone asked if anyone had experience with humic acid. I have and I swear by it. I do all my gardening organically, I avoid commercial fertilizers studiously. By using lots of compost, manure, natural mulch (local nondyed double shredded bark), humic acid, mycorrhizae and aerify soil conditioner, my garden and my lawn are the envy of the neighborhood.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Humates may add something to the soil if the soil has an active Soil Food Web to convert that stuff into something plants can use, but without that active Soil Food Web little will happen. If you have adequate amounts of organic matter in the soil things such as humates will be there, just as there will be fungi that form that mycorrhizal relationship with plants.
Humates also come from coal. If you have a lot of money to spend on things of little to no use go ahead and spend it on these things, but at the same time get adequate amounts ofr organic matter in the soil so you won't need to enrich someone else needlessly.

This post was edited by kimmsr on Sat, Jun 7, 14 at 6:47


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RE: Are Humates for real?

I agree with pn brown. I live in SW Fl, and the use of humic acid in sand 'soil' works wonders. I suppose it just depends on the base you are working with from the get-go.
I've lived here over 30 years and swear by the stuff.


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RE: Are Humates for real?

YES,,,humate is for real...not expensive either if bought in the powder form and mixed with good water...the dirtdocter says you can use in place of compost tea...i do and it is much easier...one lb of the stuff is enough for my gardening for years...it keeps forever....i like it mixed with seaweed extract and unsulphured molasses, mostly used as drench...i use teravita 90 %...about 15 dollars a lb plus shipping from amazon...best use three ways, seed treatment, foilar treatment and soil treatment....increases plant health and thereby bug resistance and some frost protection...good stuff...the indian


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RE: Are Humates for real?

Lydia Pinkhams Magic Eiixar will do the same thing except you drink it instead of adding it to your soil. At 90 proof alcohol it will help solve many problems, for a while.


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