11 Hot Tips to Profit from Humates

Humates are the most exciting yield building, profit boosting tool available in crop production and if you have yet to discover their multiple benefits, it’s time to realise their potential. Trial a small area and you will become a humate convert. We are yet to experience a grower who has not been impressed with the humate response. Often the level of success is based upon how this tool is utilised. Here are some tips to help maximise humate benefits:

1. Young plants are more responsive to both humic and fulvic acid.Younger tissues have more active transport mechanisms to move nutrients to sites of metabolic activity. Foliar application is most successful is this context.

2. Humates are excellent brix-builders – enhanced carbohydrate production can be detected with a refractometer within 24 – 48 hours (increased quality and yield).

3. A combination of humic and fulvic acid has been shown to be most effective for promoting root growth.

4. It may take up to three applications of soluble humates to achieve sufficient concentration in the roots to allow 20 – 30% of the humic acid to be transported up to the shoots and leaves i.e. you will always see root growth before shoot growth when top dressing humates.

5. Humic acid in small amounts has been shown to “structure water”. The water molecules become more organised and arranged like fragments of ice structure. The water gains the desirable properties of “melted water” improving plant nutrition (Masaru Emoto).

6. Humates can be used to lower nitrate levels or prevent the accumulation of nitrate in plants with obvious stock health benefits. In this situation humates also increase potassium uptake which is normally inhibited by excess nitrates.

Recipe for Nitrate Reduction:
2% Magnesium sufate (2 kg per 100 L)
150 grams of Sodium Molybdate
150 grams NTS Soluble Fulvic Acid Powder™

7. If carbon sequestration is to be a new income stream in agriculture, then humates are a major tool. Humates are the most profound promotant of the creatures that build stable carbon in the soil (Cellulose digesting fungi).

8. Don’t discard the insoluble sludge (15%) when dissolving NTS Soluble Humate Granules™ as it is the sponge-like, mineral-dense humin fraction which is an excellent fertility builder.

9. Humic acid is a powerhouse tool for drought resistance. The large surface area and internal electrical charges help hold water in the root zone. Humates serve as sponges which can hold 7 times their volume in water. That stored water also facilitates nutrient transfer.

10. The combination of humic acid with liquid lime, dolomite or guano, liberates CO2 from calcium carbonate boosting photosynthesis.

11. Fulvic acid is proving a potent input to seriously stimulate clover growth in pasture to improve the legume to grass ratio.

  • P.Quinn

    very interested in more info on humates. do u have more ?
    Cheers P.Quinn

  • cj mccullagh

    will humates be beneficial to a cotton production system

  • Graeme Sait

    Hi CJ.

    Yes humates have proven very beneficial in cotton production for the following reasons:

    1). Humates stabilize and magnify fertiliser inputs to help reduce input costs.

    2). Humates are the most powerful known promotant of mychorrhizal fungi which are important creatures in cotton production.

    3) Humates chelate all minerals in the soil increasing their uptake.

    4). Humates help improve soil structure and associated gas exchange. This is particularly important in some of the heavier cotton soils.

    5) The foliar application of 15 kg of urea with 1 kg of NTS Soluble Humate Granules is a highly effective strategy to deliver an inexpensive nitrogen boost.

    6) Fulvic acid can be foliar sprayed to compensate for a a lack of sunlight. This can help to maintain production in ongoing cloudy conditions.

    7). Humates can help to neutralize chemical contaminants in the soil associated with
    pest management.

    I trust this has been of help. I suggest that you trial Soluble Humate granules in an area and you will be amazed at the difference in root growth in the treated area

  • Mauricio Escobar

    I notice that the Nitrate reduction formula has changed a little in time:
    On ACRES 2006 plant manager seminar 1 you suggest 2% Magnesium Sulphate, 50 grams Sodium Molibdate, 1 liter Fulvic Acid.
    On this article you go to 150 grams of Molibdate, is there a reason for this increase in Molibdate?

  • Graeme Sait


    You are very observant to notice the change in the NTS Nitrate Reducing Recipe. The molybdenum content was trebled because we found it more effective in cases of large nitrate excesses. The original 50 grm recipe still works but 150 grams works better. Molybdenum is required to convert nitrates to proteins via the nitrate reductase enzyme (which is molybdenum-dependant). The higher the nitrates, the more molybdenum needed to reduce levels.

  • nilesh mundada

    as the whole world is motivating organic farming to reduce toxic residues,but we know organic farming does not have commercial feasibility,in this case humate should be made mandatory to be used with pesticides,fungicides,fertilizers.to eliminate their residue,this may be used as a tool for organic farming.

  • Brenton

    Can you explain where humates are sourced from.

  • Graeme Sait

    Please see below text which is an excerpt from Gary Zimmer’s article Humates and Humic Substances (Acres USA, January 2004, Vol 34, No1):

    “Humate is a common term used to describe dry-mined carbonaceous materials found in areas where coal is mined. They are correctly called leonardites or oxidized lignites. For many years the most commonly used humic product was a black liquid extract called humic acid, obtained by mixing a strong base liquid material such as sodium hydroxide, or more commonly potassium hydroxide, with a dry humate material….”

    Julie Sutherland

  • Paul Maiewski


    How do you use the ‘Nitrate Reduction Recipe?’ As a foliar? At a specific growth stage?

    I am specifically interested in its use on potato. I suspect it may reduce the incidence of hollow heart?

    Paul Maiewski
    massachusetts USA

  • Graeme Sait

    Hi Paul,

    The Nitrate Reduction Recipe is designed as a foliar application, although there may be some benefit in soil applying the components if foliar spraying is not possible (application rates may need to be increased). Generally, the recipe is applied if there has shown to be an excess level of nitrate (either via a sap nitrate meter or a laboratory leaf test). Ideally, the crop fertiliser program should be designed to avoid the potential of a nitrate excess, by spacing nitrogen applications throughout the crop cycle opposed to as a one off application at planting. We have worked with potato growers who have significantly reduced their chemical nitrogen applications by treating the seed with a Trichoderma/Mycorrhizae mix (Nutri-Life Platform) and foliar spraying with Nutri-Tech Triple Ten (10.10.10) in combination with a nitrogen-fixing bacterial inoculum (Nutri-Life Bio-Plex).

    Ensuring adequate calcium levels is also critical for reducing hollow heart in potatoes. A calcium foliar spray should be conducted three times early in the crop cycle (prior to row closure). Ground applications of liquid lime, fulvic acid and molasses can also help to solubilise soil calcium and subsequently increase crop calcium levels.

    Maintaining uniform soil moisture is another key aspect of reducing the likelihood of hollow heart, and monitoring equipment should be used to ensure the crop is not under or over-watered.