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What is the difference between humic acid and fulvic acid?
Fulvic acid is the lowest molecular weight portion of humic substances. By definition it will be golden in color where humic acid will be brown to black. Because of its small molecular size, fulvic acid is able to penetrate the leaf and even the mitochondria of a cell which makes it great for foliar sprays and root drenches. By comparison humic acid is a fantastic soil conditioner and better for dry broad cast and soil/soil-less application. Typically each manufacturer will provide a product analysis differentiating the fulvic from the humic; however some states do not accept fulvic acid analysis and will refer to all substances as humic acids. To further confuse things, a standardized industry method for analyzing humic substances does not exist. This creates a wide range of concentrations and analysis for humic products. At the end of the day it is best to conduct bioassays and test the products yourself to see which one will perform best. For more information on humic substances properties visit Properties of Humic Substances.
Why such dramatic price and application differences?
Is it raw, is it soluble, partially both? Is it concentrated or watered down, are the application rates because of what works or because of limitations due to the other chemicals involved, how many chemical processes have been applied to it? Theseare just a few differentiations not typically included on the label. As example, many popular soil brands use the term “humic acids” as a draw or value added item. However, they often contain raw ore and very little at that. Raw ore is not soluble, it takes years to break down, and it requires hundreds of pounds of material per acre (200-500) compared to a couple of pounds (5-10) of our soluble. Not to suggest that there isn’t a time or place for raw, but the simple truth is it won’t work on today’s crop or container gardens. Paying more for something that adds no value makes little sense to anyone. If you remember one thing from all this it’s that labeling does not account for the large amount of product variation. You’re going to have to do some homework.
Why are there so many variances in product analysis and concentration claims?
Currently there is no industry standard for procedural analysis of humic and fulvic acids. Therefore suppliers use different test methods, which ultimately yield different results. Many tests lack thorough quantitative analysis, so often suppliers play the test game to see which one will yield the highest results so they can play the concentration game. The same substance sent to different labs will come back with a variety of numbers, depending on the labs methods. As an example, by the Verplogh and Brandvold method Ful-Power fulvic measures 8%. By the Classical Method the same fulvic measures .015%. It’s noteworthy that when measuring for fulvic acid many tests include the weight of the chemical salts, leftover from the extraction method. As we do not use any chemicals to extract our fulvic the analysis we receive is actual. Additionally we are proud members of the International Humic Substance Society (IHSS) and support their recommended method, the Classical Method. The IHSS wishes to standardize industry procedures with a thorough analytical method, so as to alleviate consumer confusion and create an even playing field. However, thorough testing often results in lower numbers as salts and other substances are accounted for. With standardization many companies would loose their place in the market as numbers would reveal the truth of concentration. For many companies confusion has helped them maintain business. Please beware of anyone claiming unreasonable concentrations of liquid fulvic acid. While near impossible a LIQUID 90% fulvic acid will be thicker than cold molasses and you would only need a pin head as a dose. Often this percentage is in reference to the parent material, or raw ore and does not describe the product itself. The highest known liquid extractions are around 15% but are so chemically adulterated at this saturation that it’s suspect to if they even work. Check out this article by Ryan Zadow on analysis and testing: The Real Dirt On Humic Substances.
Why do you not sell Ag grade Fulvic Acid in some states?
Because of the lack of industry standardized quantitative analysis, different states have different registration requirements. As example, neither Oregon nor California recognize fulvic acid as its own substance and instead refer to all of these substances under the humic acid umbrella.
Why are humic substances sometimes called Leonardite?
True Leonardite comes from the hills of the Dakotas and was discovered by Dr. Leonard. Over time the name became confused with all humic substances, and lack of standardization has continued the misnomer. The humic substances found in this area are low in fulvic acid (the lowest molecular weight) but high in humic acid content. The low fulvic portion is because of the geological uplift and cracking which allowed the material to become weathered, literally rinsing out the fulvic portion. (akin to leaving your compost in the rain for thousands of years). Additionally, the source material for this humic substance was formed in the presence of salt water marshes. While it will provide benefits to the soil, we prefer a source that is high in humic and fulvic acid. This means the source has not been leached or weathered and was made in the presence of fresh water where cycads and other leafy greens were growing. We have searched the world over, tested substances from many continents and found that one of the highest sources is in the American Southwest. However, even in New Mexico there are variances in the quality of humic substances. Our source is a younger source, formed in fresh water, and protected by a thick layer of sandstone for millions of years. It comes from the basin where it was protected and not the rim where it is cracked open.
Why are adding humic acids so important…aren’t they in the soil already?
Humic acids used to be abundant in our soil and water systems. However, modern agricultural methods have depleted the soil and our city water systems filter humic substances out. Even in organic agriculture it’s important to add humic substances as stimulants for microbes and food for worms, whether that’s in the form of tons of compost or pounds of humic acids. Additionally, while humic acid will remain stable in the soil, fulvic acid is used up rather quickly. In conventional farming humic acids are an important FIRST STEP when trying to transition towards more sustainable methods. In sustainable and organic farming the addition of humic acids play an important role in the holistic system and promote soil and plant health naturally.
In what systems and ways are humic substances used?
BioAg’s humic and fulvic acid products can be used in almost any system. They are used for organic, biodynamic, sustainable and conventional farming as well as bioremediation, compost teas and as an additive to premium crop products. Different products have different strengths, but generally they can be used in soil, hydroponics, aeroponic, dry broadcast, irrigation, landscaping, turf and golf care, home gardens, clones and cuttings etc… If you have a question about your specific system, please do not hesitate to ask us. Just contact us by clicking on the picture below.
How much should I use and when should I use it?
Humic substances are naturally derived. They are often used in agriculture to help achieve sustainability and in bioremediation to help reclaim polluted soil and water. As such, concentrations will vary depending on the needs of the crop or soil, the micro-climate, the soil type and desired results. However, general application rates can be found on our technical data sheets, located under each product or in the members only section. It is best not to exceed these rates, especially without running some tests. Humic substances are best applied in smaller amounts over the life of the crop rather than a large amount all at once. However, for some applications this is just not practical. If you are a farmer, turf manager, orchard manager, greenhouse grower, product developer or otherwise and want recommendations on using our products with your system please contact us.
Do you make a liquid humic acid product?
In general we only make a fulvic liquid (not available in OR or CA). Our humic products are made using a dry to dry conversion, which means they are not over-heated and denatured. They are shipped dry for easy long-term storage (as liquids can degrade in your shed over-time) and for lower shipping costs. Our products are HIGHLY concentrated and very soluble. However, 10% of the product is insoluble and will need to be settled out before being sprayed through small jet nozzles. The remaining 10% will degrade over time and can be added to the soil or garden. In general 1 pound of Ful-Humix is equal to one-two gallons of competitors liquid products.
What particle size and quantities do you offer?
Our powder humic acid products come in fine, small and granular sizes for easy application in multiple systems. Our mission is to provide products that are sustainable and readily available for today’s crops. Our manufacturing method does not use heat, helping to maintain the integrity of the dry product. However, please note that 10% of the product is insoluble and should be settled out before being used in large spray applications. Our fulvic product works seamlessly with all systems and does not need to be filtered. Our products come in all sizes, from 100 gram packs to multiple tons. For large orders please contact us.