What are Humates?

Apr 1, 2015
Merriam-Webster defines “humate” as “a salt of humic acid”. Humic acid is a combination of organic substances created as a result of the decomposition of plant and animal tissues that have been compressed over millions of years in the earth’s soil. Humates occur in all soils, waters, and sediments that build up within the earth. In their most basic form, humates are a black, coal-like powder substance mined from the earth. Their size, molecular weight, elemental composition, structure, and the number and population of functional groups vary, depending on the origin and age of the material; which is why BioFlora® has made it a top priority to select sites with the greatest consistency. In this article we discuss how humates work, the benefits they offer growers and consumers, and where to find them for use in agricultural food crops or home gardening.

How do Humates Work?

Humates are a natural result of the process of humification, in which organic matter is formed from the remains of plant and animal life over a period of thousands of years. When combined, organic materials create biochemical and chemical reactions, resulting in the creation of complex molecules. These trace minerals form molecules, which provide a variety of benefits to the earth’s soil. Over the course of time, this mineral-rich soil content is buried and compressed deep into the earth’s surface to form concentrated deposits of rich prehistoric macro and micro minerals. These mineral deposits (humates) are then extracted from the earth for use in agriculture and other industries. Not all extraction methods are created equal, however. Our Integrated Life Sciences Research Center® (ILSRC) has developed a proprietary process to extract these natural mineral deposits from the earth. This process yields, specialized, ionic products capable of promoting bioavailability at the cellular level. This mineral extraction process allows us to obtain a distinctive multi-mineral composition, all of which can then be applied to a wide variety of industries and products.

What are the Benefits of Humates?

Humates are a critical component of soil fertility and plant nutrition. Plants grown in soil rich with humic substances produce higher yields, provide better nutrition, and are less subject to stress, compared with plants grown in soils lacking these nutrients. The benefits of humates and other humic substances are extensive. They’re a rich source of energy and beneficial bacteria which aid overall plant health. These bacteria also protect against plant pests, thereby providing a natural form of protection. As a result, they are a safe addition to crops of any size, or to home gardens. Some of the many benefits of humates include:

Improved water holding capacity

One of the most important functions of humates is the ability to hold water. They act as a sponge, holding up to seven times their volume in water. Especially in the southwest, water is one of the most important components for crop growth. Growers who apply humate products to crops are frequently able to harvest the crops during seasons of drought.

Reduced cost of other fertilizers

Humates may enhance uptake of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in plants. As a result, use of N-P-K fertilizers may be significantly reduced. This has the ability to save growers a significant amount of money on the cost of fertilizers.

Improve seed germination rates

Application of humates during seed germination has been shown to improve seed germination rates as well as seedling development. An increased germination rate saves growth time and also improves returns. A higher number of successful germinations means less waste and a more abundant harvest.

Stimulated root growth

Humates help stimulate root growth. A number of case studies have been completed to examine the effects of BioFlora® products on crops, compared with a control group with no added enhancements. The results show that the application of humates, either alone or in combination, encourage roots to grow larger and more robust.

Improved growth of foliage and fruit when applied as a foliar

The fulvic acid fraction of humates applied as a foliar can improve the growth of foliage, roots, and fruit. Increased growth of the leaves leads to increased carbohydrate content within the plant, which is then transported through the root into the surrounding soil where it provides nutrients for microorganisms. Enhanced carbohydrate creation improves the quality of the crop and can, potentially, increase yields.

More effective option vs. traditional N-P-K fertilizers

Soil scientists and agronomists recognize the important role of humic substances in maintaining a healthy soil. When compared with N-P-K fertilizers, there is no question of the supremacy of humates in their ability to improve soil yield, year after year. They are not only more effective, but also much more economical and safe. Agricultural farmers would be wise to include humates with reduced chemical inputs of N-P-K.

Where Can I Find Humates?

Products containing beneficial humic substances as well as other beneficial minerals for organic farming and bioremediation can be found through the BioFlora® Products page. Today we have over 30 unique, patented products that benefit growers, retailers, and consumers alike. Through our continuous innovation in life sciences, we have evolved from product to program-based solutions, with our biotechnology being the driving force of our products. Designed to enhance plant growth and beneficial bacteria and fungi, while increasing disease suppression, these efforts have been propelled by the plant physiologists, microbiologists, environmental scientists, biochemists and technicians at the ILSRC.  Their continued scientific exploration has contributed to worldwide groundbreaking research, which continues to result in the cutting-edge biotechnology behind our product line. For more information on biotechnology, read our article, “What is BioTechnology?”. BioFlora® is committed to the development and refining of products that utilize these organic acids in partnership with the Integrated Life Science Research Center®, whose perseverance to understand the complete benefits of these substances is at the forefront of the agricultural scientific community.