Five Reasons to use
Humic acids have played an important role in agriculture since the beginning of recorded time. The first written record of the term humic acid appeared in 1786 and nearly ten thousand scientific documents have been written since. It has been said the humic acid molecule is the most probed molecule in all of soil science. And yet after 230 years, there is still much unknown; there are still mysterious attributes to this high carbon / hydrogen molecule. What we do know to date is that every humic acid deposit around the world has unique and distinctive qualities. Some deposits are well suited for use in oil drilling while others are better for contamination remediation. There are also a small number of deposits that are especially beneficial for use in agriculture.
Humic Acid Categorization
In the early 1930s, a number of German scientists hypothesized the grouping of humic acids into various classifications. This grouping of humic acid was done through a method using "absorption spectra". The understanding at the time was that differing humic acids would have different absorption rates to exposed frequencies. Scientists at the time classified humic acids into four different groups: Type A, Type B, Type Rp and Type P.
Each of these groups had a different absorption rate pending on the density of the molecular structure. In the end, it was found that classifying humic acid into specific types was useless. When type A was tested verse Rp from the same source the difference was statistically insignificant. In 1972 a number of Japanese scientists retested the 'Humic acid types' hypothesis with more advanced equipment but also came to the same conclusion.
Today there are many different humic suppliers, each with a unique tale relating to why their particular brand is superior to another. And with many companies, it is just that - a tale. How do potential clients weave through the endless theories and lists of benefits that humic acids offer? How do clients read humic acid labels? Is 12% humic acid better than 3%? What about the fulvic fraction? As of late 2016, the ISO (International Standards Organization) had not approved any standardized method of extraction or scale to measure humic or fulvic acid.
At Alpha Agri we are faced with the same dilemma as many potential clients, with the exception that we are on the opposite side of the conversation. How does one prove uniqueness in an increasingly crowded humic acid marketplace?
The answer to this question is remarkably easy. It is simply found in product performance, the true testing ground for any product, including humic acid.
1. Truly Soluble Humic Acid
Since 2001, as a supplier of humic acid in commercial greenhouses, we have not had a plugged drip line or filter. This is especially significant considering the various water types and the many greenhouse acres we treat every day of the year. Our humic acid can be mixed with the majority of nutrients. It has been used in many modes of greenhouse production and field vegetable crops. When humic acids are used in drip, spaghetti, or pivot irrigation, growers trust our humic acid.
Many attempts have been made in the past two decades to produce a humic acid that remains suspended in liquid nitrogen for a prolonged period of time, our humic acid will remain in suspension in most 28% and 32% U.A.N for 100+ days. This is a remarkable accomplishment in the humic industry as many humic acids need constant agitation to maintain suspension.
One of the most challenging solubility issues with humic acid is mixing with liquid calcium products. Though we cannot completely guarantee that our humic acid will mix with every brand, we have been successful with most pH neutral liquid calcium products.
2. Tested C.E.C
Humic acid should have a high cation exchange capacity (C.E.C). A high capacity allows the humic acid to bind to nutrients, to synthetic chemicals or to metals. With a higher C.E.C., humic acid has a superior ability to exchange ions. The humic acid we manufacture is four and a half times more powerful than soils with 10% organic matter. When tested, our humic acid (Humika™) analysis measures at 307 meq/100g.
In 2016 we coined the term "humic bus" to describe how humic acids are carriers/chelators of the nutrients in the soil. Many humic deposits contain impurities like aluminum, arsenic, cobalt, zinc and mercury. Not only are some of these impurities dangerous to human health they make poor quality humates. A higher level of impurities in humic acid will lower the exchange capacity. One could say that the bus seats are full and can no longer carry essential nutrients. (The actual reason humic acids might be used.) Physical evidence of low C.E.C humates usually coincides with a large amount of sludge in tanks and the constant need for agitation.
3. Low use Rates (L.A.R)
High quality humates are easily distinguished from their low quality counterparts by their low prescribed application rates. As previously stated, high C.E.C. humates have a great ability to bind nutrients. Low C.E.C on the other hand will need large volumes of product to carry the same nutrients. We have found that our humic acid is highly effective at 500ml (16 oz) per acre or only 0.66% in 28% U.A.N (Ratio or 1 to 150). These are extremely low use rates demonstrating the purity of the humic acid. (Industry standards range from 4-12L per acre / 1-3 U.S Gals per acre or 4 to 24 times more than our humates)
One of the financial benefits of using L.A.R humates is the reduced freight charge. Pending on the application used it is possible to transport up to 40000 acres worth of humic acid on one semi load. At a dealer level, inventory storage area is maximized and costs incurred to transport product to growers are reduced. Perhaps the single largest benefit is seen at the farm level, small amounts of product are added to the fertilizer tanks, and more acres per hour are planted or side-dressed.
4. Return on Investment
Data is more convincing than any other piece of information; that is why our humic acid has been field tested since we started. More than forty trials have been completed ranging from greenhouse peppers to soy and corn. Not every trial has been successful but we can confidently say that growers get a four-to-one return on investment. At the end of the day, profitability is what pays the bills, not a theory of what humic does in a laboratory.
5. Client Retention
Clients who began with us in 2002 are still using our humic acid; this kind of brand loyalty is found in few products. The reasons are simple; our humic acids deliver what we promise - nothing more and nothing less. The programs for using the humic acid are easy to understand and do not require extra equipment or time. Our humic acid is flexible, compatible and safe to use.
In the last few years, many humic companies have come and gone, promising more than they could deliver. After 16 years we know the humic acid we produce intimately; we know its limitations and its strength. Clients have come to trust what our humic acid does for their operations, for many it is as much a part of their operation as NPK.