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Replenishing Humic Acids in Agricultural Soils
Open AccessReview

Commercial Humates in Agriculture: Real Substance or Smoke and Mirrors?

by Graham Lyons 1 and Yusuf Genc 1,2,*
1
School of Agriculture, Food and Wine, University of Adelaide, Waite Campus, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia
2
South Australian Research and Development Institute, Plant Genomics Centre, Waite Campus, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Mike McLaughlin
Agronomy 2016, 6(4), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy6040050
Received: 27 September 2016 / Revised: 24 October 2016 / Accepted: 26 October 2016 / Published: 28 October 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Use of Commercial Humates in Agriculture)
Soil humic substances (HS) are known to be beneficial for soils and plants, and most published studies of HS and humates, usually conducted under controlled conditions, show benefits. However, the value of commercial humate application in the field is less certain. This review attempts to answer the question: How effective are commercial humates in the field? Commercial humates, especially K humate, are used widely in agriculture today as “soil conditioners”. A wide range of benefits is claimed, including growth of beneficial soil microbes; deactivation of toxic metals; improvements in soil structure including water retention capacity, enhanced nutrient and micronutrient uptake and photosynthesis; resistance to abiotic stress, including salinity; and increased growth, yield and product quality. Despite this, there is a surprising lack of solid evidence for their on-farm effectiveness and findings are often inconsistent. The industry relies largely on anecdotal case studies to promote humates, which are often applied at unrealistically low levels. It is recommended that products should be well characterised, physically and chemically, and that careful field studies be conducted on foliar humate application and pelletised humates at realistic rates, targeted to the seedling rhizosphere, for a variety of crops in a range of soils, including low C sandy and saline soils. View Full-Text
Keywords: commercial humates; potassium humate; humic substances; abiotic stress; plant growth; yield; lignite; agriculture commercial humates; potassium humate; humic substances; abiotic stress; plant growth; yield; lignite; agriculture
MDPI and ACS Style

Lyons, G.; Genc, Y. Commercial Humates in Agriculture: Real Substance or Smoke and Mirrors? Agronomy 2016, 6, 50.

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