Humus has been known and discussed for centuries. Humates and humus are related. The references to “humus” date back more than a millennium when it generally referred to the soil itself. Over time, “humus” referred to organic matter of soils, composts or other aspects of organic matter. Today, humus refers to decomposed organic matter. Humus is a complex, formed in soils, composts, peat bogs and parts of plant residues. Solid organic matter represents several types of humus in an advanced state of decomposition produced by plant residues from eons ago and thereafter super imposed by layers of mineral matter. Solid organic matter formation is a process where decomposed plants and animals turn to humus, change to peat, then to lignite, because of tremendous concentration of living bacteria which convert the organic matter to humic acids. Humate is compressed, natural organic humus, containing most of the known trace elements necessary for development of plant life. This may be because eons ago, humus itself was plant life. Organic materials and substances play an important part in the formation of fertile soil due to the fact that they are a source of plant nutrients. Organic matter has also a significant effect on the water holding capacity of many soils and plays a role in the plants’ abilities to consume nutrients from the soil. Legions of studies demonstrate that organic compounds such as humate have a definite and positive effect on the growth and development of plants. The positive effects of adding organic matter to soil have been recognized for centuries. There is a wide body of scientific theory that concludes humus influences soil fertility through its effect on water holding capacity. From humus soil, three separate types of acid can be separated, humic, fulvic and ulmic. Together, these compounds comprise “humate.” Humate can be utilized as a soil conditioner and soil supplements. It acts chemically with soils, whether alkaline or acidic, to protect plant roots from excessive amounts of soluble fertilizers placed too close to the seed at planting. It also has the same effect on growing plants when applied as a side or top dressing. For optimal plant development, humate is applied at rates of 100 to 600 lbs. per acre depending on soil conditions, climate conditions and the particular crop. With good soil action, humate can show soil improvement within a few weeks.
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