Foundation: ORGANIC MATTER, HUMATE, HUMIC ACID, FULVIC ACID, AND HUMIN:
Humic substances play a vital role in soil fertility and plant nutrition. Plants grown on soils which contain adequate humin, humic acids, and fulvic acids are less subject to stress, are healthier, produce higher yields; and the nutritional quality of harvested foods are superior. The value of humic substances in soil fertility and plant nutrition relates to the many functions these complex organic compounds perform as a part of the life cycle on earth. The life-death cycle involves a recycling of the carbon containing structural components of plants and animals - through the soil and air - and back into the living plants. Man became distracted from the importance of organic compound cycling when it was discovered that soluble acidic based N-P-K "fertilizers" could stimulate plant growth. Large industrial concerns took advantage of the N-P-K discovery to market industrially processed "fertilizers" from mineral deposit. Continued use of these acidic fertilizers in the absence of adequate humic substance has caused many serious problems. The largest problem being the destruction of microorganisms, the life giving plants, fungi, protozoa, and small animals that help make soils productive. Man needs to reconsider his approach to fertilization techniques by giving higher priority to soil humus. The urgency to emphasize the importance of humic substances and their value as fertilizer ingredients has never been more important than it is today. Humic substances are recognized by most soil scientists and agronomists as the most important component of a healthy fertile soil. To understand how humic substances function, it is important to understand what they are.
ORGANIC MATTER - Organic matter is defined as a grouping of carbon containing compounds which have originated from living beings and been deposited on or within the earth's structural components. Soil organic matter includes the remains of all plant and animal bodies which have fallen on the earth's surface or been purposely applied by man in the form of organically synthesized pesticides. A fertile soil should contain from 2-8 percent organic matter; most soils contain less than 2. In acid, leached soils, which are often sandy, substantial portions of the organic matter is in the form of plant debris and fulvic acids. In neutral and alkaline soils a large percentage of the organic matter is in the form of humic acids and humin.
HUMIC SUBSTANCES - Function to give the soil structure, porosity, water holding capacity, cation and anion exchange, and are involved in the chelation of mineral
elements. The elemental analysis of humic substances reveals that they are primarily composed of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and sulfur. Humic substances have been shown to contain a wide variety of molecular components. Some typical components are: polysaccharides, fatty acids, polypeptides, lignin, esters, phenols, ethers, carbonyls, lipids, peroxides, various combinations of benzene, acetal, ketal, and lactol, furan and aliphatic compounds.
HUMINS - are that fraction of humic substances which are not soluble in alkali (high pH) and are not soluble in acid (low pH). Humin are not soluble in water at any pH. Humin complexes are considered macro-organic (very large)
substances because their molecular weights (MW) range from approximately 100,000 to l0,000,000. In comparison the molecular weights of carbohydrates (complex sugars) range from approximately 500 to 100,000. The chemical and
physical properties of humin are only partially understood. Humin present within the soil is the most resistant to decomposition (slow to breakdown) of all the humic substances. Some of the main functions of humin within the soil are to improve the soils water holding capacity, to improve soil structure, to maintain soil stability, to function as a cation exchange system, and to generally improve soil fertility.
HUMIC ACIDS - Humic acids comprise a mixture of weak carbon chains and carbon rings which are not soluble in water under acid conditions but are soluble in water under alkaline conditions. Humic acids consist of that fraction of humic substances that are precipitated from aqueous solution when the pH is decreased below 2.
Humic acids readily form salts with inorganic trace mineral elements. An analysis of extracts of naturally occurring humic acids will reveal the presence of over 60 different mineral elements present. These trace elements are bound in humic acid molecules in a form that can be readily utilized by various living organisms. As a result humic acids function as important ion-exchange and metal-complexing (chelating) systems.
FULVIC ACIDS - fulvic acids are a mixture of weak aliphatic and aromatic organic acids which are soluble in water at all pH conditions (acidic, neutral and alkaline). Their composition and shape is quite variable. The size of fulvic acids are smaller to humic acids with molecular weights which range from approximately 1,000 to 10,000. Fulvic acids have oxygen content twice that of humic acid. Because of the relatively small size of fulvic acids molecules they can readily enter plant roots, stems, and leaves. As they enter these plant parts they carry trace minerals from plant surfaces into plant tissues. Fulvic acids are key ingredients in high quality foliar fertilizers. Foliar spray applications containing fulvic acid mineral chelates, at specific plant growth stages, can be used as a primary production technique for maximizing the plants productive capacity. Once applied to plant foliage fulvic acids transport trace minerals directly to metabolic sites in the plant cells. Fulvic acids are the most effective carbon containing chelating compounds known. They are plant compatible, thus non-toxic, when applied at relatively low concentrations.
Foundation and soil
Foundation is a good source of energy for beneficial soil organisms. Foundation provides the energy and many of the mineral requirements for soil microorganisms and soil animals. Beneficial soil organisms lack the photo synthetic apparatus to capture energy from the sun thus must survive on residual carbon containing substances on or in the soil. Energy stored within the carbon bonds function to provide energy for various metabolic reactions within these organisms. Beneficial soil organisms (algae, yeast, bacteria, fungi, nematodes, mycorrhizae and small animals) perform many beneficial functions which influence soil fertility and plant health. For example the bacteria releases organic acids which aid in the solubility of mineral elements bound in soil. Bacteria also release complex polysaccharides (sugar based compounds) that help create soil crumbs (aggregates). Soil crumbs give soil a desirable structure. Other beneficial soil microorganisms such as Actinomyces release antibiotics into the soil. These antibiotics are taken up by the plant to protect it against pests. Antibiotics also function to create desirable ecological balances of soil organisms on the root surface (rhizoplane) and in soil near the root (rhizosphere). Fungi also perform many beneficial functions in soils. For example, mycorrhizae aid plant roots in the uptake of water and trace elements. Other fungi decompose crop residues and vegetative matter releasing bound nutrients for other organisms. Many of the organic compounds released by fungi; aid in forming humus and soil crumbs. Beneficial soil animals create tunnel-like channels in the soil. The channels allow the soil to breath, and exchange gases with the atmosphere. Soil animals also aid in the formation of humus, and help balance the concentration of soil microorganisms. A healthy fertile soil must contain sufficient carbon containing compounds to sustain the billions of microscopic life forms required for a fertile and a healthy plant. A living soil is a fertile healthy soil. Foundation will provide the carbon necessary to promote the continual growth of soil microorganisms.
Humus functions to improve the soil's water holding capacity. The most important function of humic substances within the soil is their ability to hold water. From a quantitative standpoint water is the most important substance derived by plants from the soil. Humic substances help create a desirable soil structure that facilitates water infiltration and helps hold water within the root zone. Because of their large surface area and internal electrical charges, humic substances function as water sponges. These sponge like substances have the ability to hold seven times their volume in water, a greater water holding capacity than soil clays. Water stored within the top-soil, when needed, provides a carrier medium for nutrients required by soil organisms and plant roots. Available water is without doubt the most important component of a fertile soil. Soils which contain high concentrations of humic substances hold water for crop use during periods of drought. Growers, who apply humate-based fertilizers and integrate production practices which preserve humic substances, can frequently harvest a crop during periods of dry weather.
Humic substances are key components of a loose soil structure. Various carbon containing humic substances are key components of soil aggregates. Complex carbohydrates synthesized by bacteria and humic substances function together with clay and silt to form soil aggregate. As the humic substances become intimately associated with the mineral fraction of the soil, colloidal complexes of humus-clay and humus-silt aggregates are formed. These aggregates are formed by electrical processes which increase the cohesive forces that cause very fine soil particles and clay components to attract each other. Once formed these aggregates help create a desirable crumb structure in the top soil, making it more friable. Soils with good crumb structure have improved tilth, and more porous openings. These pores allow for gaseous interchange with the atmosphere, and for greater water infiltration.
Degradation or inactivation of toxic substances is mediated by humic substances. Soil humic substances function to either stabilize or assist in the degradation of toxic substances such as: nicotine, aflatoxin, antibiotics, phenols, and most organic pesticides. In the microbial degradation process not all of the carbon contained within these toxins is released as C02. A portion of these toxic molecules, primarily the aromatic ring compounds are stabilized and integrated within the complex polymers of humic substances. Humic substances have electrically charged sites on their surfaces which function to attract and inactivate pesticides and other toxic substances. For this reason the Environmental Protection Agency recommends the use of humates for clean up of toxic waste sites. Many bioremediation companies apply Foundation to waste sites as a part of their clean up program.
Growers interested in cleaning up their soils (destroying various toxic pesticides) can accelerate the degradation of poisons (toxins) by applying Foundation, one of the best humate substances on the market. Growers who farm soils low in humus need to include the purchase of Foundation in their fertilizer budget. The cost of Foundation can be more than offset by reduced costs of other fertilizer ingredients.
Foundation can buffer (neutralize) the soil pH and freeing up carbon dioxide. Foundation functions to buffer the hydrogen ion (pH) concentration of the soil. Repeated field studies have provided experimental evidence that the addition
of Foundation to soils helps to neutralize the pH of those soils. Both acidic and alkaline soils are neutralized. Once the soil is neutralized, and then many trace elements formerly bound in the soil and unavailable to plant roots, because of alkaline or acidic conditions, become available to the plant roots. Foundation also liberates carbon dioxide (C02) from calcium carbonates present within the soil. The released C02 may be taken up by the plant or it may form carbonic acids. The carbonic acids act on soil minerals to release plant nutrients.
Soil enzymes (complex proteins) are stabilized by Foundation within the soil by covalent bonding. Stabilization renders these enzymes less subject to microbial degradation. Once stabilized and bound to the humic substances harmful enzyme activity is greatly reduced or ceases to function. When some components of humic substance react with harmful soil enzymes they are more tightly bound. For example, phenolic- enzyme complexes are frequently attached to clays, further stabilizing the enzymes. These enzyme stabilization processes help to restrict the activity of potential harmful plant pathogens. As the potential plant pathogen release enzymes designed to break down the plant's defenses, the harmful enzymes become bound to humic substances. As a result the pathogens are unable to invade potential host plants.
Soil temperatures and water evaporation rate are stabilized by humic substances. Humic substances function to help stabilize soil temperatures and slow the rate of water evaporation. The insulating properties of humic substances help maintain a more uniform soil temperature, especially during periods of rapid climate changes, such as cold spell or heat waves. Because water is bound within the humic substances and humic substances reduce temperature fluctuations, soil moisture is less likely to be released into the atmosphere.
Foundation and influence on plant growth and development.
Plant growth is influenced directly and indirectly by humic substances. Positive correlations between the humus content of the soil, Plant yields and product quality have been published in many different scientific journals. Indirect effects are those factors which provide energy for the beneficial organisms within the soil, influence the soil's water holding capacity, the soil's structure, and release of plant nutrients from soil minerals, increased availability of trace minerals, and in general improved soil fertility. Direct effects include those changes in plant metabolism that occur following the uptake of organic macromolecules, such as humic acids, fulvic acids. Once these compounds enter plant cells several biochemical changes occur in membranes and various cytoplasmic components of plant cells. Some of the biochemical improvements in plant metabolism, are influenced by humic substances,
Uptake of major plant nutrients is mediated by humic substances. One stimulative effect of humic substances on plant growth is enhanced uptake of major plant nutrients: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). When adequate humic substances are present within the soil the requirement for N-P-K fertilizer applications is reduced. As the level of humic substances in soils become depleted the misleading demand for higher concentrations of N-P-K results. Many growers have over the past several years reported increasing demands for soluble acid fertilizers in order to maintain crop yields. Such observations indicate something is wrong within the soil. Increased leaching of nitrate fertilizer into ground water is a warning of problems to come. These trends reflect losses in soil humic substances. Growers could reduce their fertilizer application and maintain plant requirements and by retain the fertilizer ingredients within the plants rooting zone by the application of humate based fertilizers.
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