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17 Feb 2023

Humates or fulvic acid? Use the right product

Emily Davidson

Regenerative and sustainable are the current buzzwords in farming and humates have a major role to play in this process, improving the soil physically, chemically and biologically. As well as this, they are used in conjunction with fertilisers and chemicals to improve efficiency. However, there are one or two misconceptions about the correct product to use and it is oft repeated that “fulvic acid is best for foliar”. This is not always the case, as explained below.

There are a couple of key differences between humate and fulvate / fulvic** molecules that need to be taken into consideration when deciding which to use for mixing with liquid fertiliser and foliar feeds. Both chelate nutrients and increase NUE, but the modes of action are different.

  • Humates are alkaline and are therefore suitable for mixing with urea and other alkaline products.
  • Fulvic acid has a low pH and should be used with any acidic chemicals. It will not mix with urea.
  • Fulvic molecules are tiny, compared to humates and are actually small enough to enter plants via the stomata. For this reason, they are ideal for using with trace elements feeds and for correcting acute nutrient deficiencies quickly. Also ideal for mixing with any systemic PPP. They will also increase the efficiency of chemicals and therefore chemical use (particularly Glyphosate) can be reduced.
  • Humate molecules are large and cannot enter plants. They act externally and for this reason are generally used as a soil treatment. They stimulate root growth and by increasing root exudates, increase nutrient uptake from the soil.
  • Both fulvates and humates dissolve the waxy coating on the epidermis of the leaves, allowing greater uptake. For this reason, use in conjunction with other adjuvants and growth regulators is not advised.
  • Neither product should be used with pre-emergence herbicides.

A jar test is always advised before mixing, but the first thing to check is the pH as this will indicate compatibility. One final reminder: always use a clean container when dissolving products!

**Humintech’s Fulvital® is a complex mixture of fulvic acid and fulvate molecules, both of which are recovered in the extraction process. For this reason, the two terms are interchangeable here.

Find out more about Humintech here.

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