More and more humus fertilizers can be found on the shelves of gardening stores and the demand for them is increasing every year. But not everyone has heard of them and only a few people know about their composition and use.
Today we will talk about this type of fertilizer’s detail. The main component of this fertilizer is humus, which is formed by the decay of various natural compounds at very low oxygen levels.
The classification of humates is very simple and straightforward: it is based on the solubility of the basic substance in acids or bases.
TYPES OF HUMIC SUBSTANCES
They are really not that many, they are Humin (insoluble in water), Humic substance (soluble in two units of moderate acidity), and Fulvic acid (they are soluble in any moderate acidity). These are often the basis for large-scale production of nutrients, i.e. fertilizers valuable for plant organisms.
Incidentally, the name Humic substance or humic acid fertilizer comes from the more familiar “humus”, i.e. “soil”. This name implies that humates should only be considered as natural components and are, in fact, the structural elements of the soil.
The amount of humus in the soil, usually in its fertile layer, can reach 94% or even 96%. At the same time, peat contains a considerable amount of humus, they account for 50-73%.
It is obvious that humus substances, as structural nutrients of the soil, cannot but be one of the main substances for the normal growth and development of any plant organism.
Humus substances considerably improve and enrich the nutrition of the soil, improve the exchange of water and air, and promote the normalization and acceleration of processes related to the reproduction of useful soil microflora.
Humus fertilizers react with various compounds in the soil, transforming them into compounds that can be used by cultivated plants.
As a rule, humic fertilizers improve the uptake by plants of elements such as N, K, and P, which are essential for the proper growth and development of any plant organism.
In fact, humates have a unique feature: they can bind various heavy metals and even radioactive elements, if present in the soil, and turn them into compounds inaccessible to crop roots so that harmful substances do not enter the fruits and berries. So it won’t get into our bodies after we enjoy them.
COMPOSITION OF HUMUS FERTILIZERS
In most cases, these fertilizers contain, in addition to the most important nutrients, humus potassium or humus sodium. In addition, these fertilizers are almost always rich in various minerals, which are particularly important for the initial development of plants and for the ripening of fruits and berries. These substances are synthesized from peat as well as from gum and other natural components.
In addition to the positive qualities mentioned above, humus fertilizers can significantly speed up the germination of seeds and increase their germination rate, and in the case of seedlings, they can significantly improve their immunity and increase their resistance to various stresses, such as at transplanting, during sharp rises or falls in temperature, and under lack or excess of water and other unfavorable environmental conditions.
In addition, humus fertilizers can also stimulate growth. For example, it has been noted that if green plugs are soaked prior to planting in a greenhouse, the strength of root formation will be significantly higher (up to 50% for difficult-to-root crops such as bilberry) and roots on the plugs will form more strongly.
When humus fertilizers are applied as foliar fertilizers, i.e. surface sprays on plants, their crop yield increases, flowering activity, and general decorative effects improve, and the risk of accumulation of nitrates and other harmful substances in fruits, berries, and root crops is reduced many times.
Most humus fertilizers are water-soluble concentrates that are dark gray or sometimes simply black. When the concentrate is dissolved, i.e., when it forms a working solution for treating plants or applying it to the soil, it usually acquires a brownish tint.
Currently, in addition to liquid humus, there are also forms in paste or powder (granules). You should know that the properties of these substances are the same and you should not think that the so-called dry humus fertilizers are more effective than liquid ones.
In fact, it is better to buy liquid humic fertilizers, because in this case, it takes only a few minutes to prepare a working solution. If you intend to apply and therefore buy and transport large quantities of humic fertilizers, it is better to buy them dry (powder or granules).
Do not forget that humus fertilizer can also be used as a supplementary fertilizer that can be easily combined with the main fertilizer. Only in this way, you will be able to achieve proper assimilation and development of the plant. Considering the application of humus fertilizers, it is necessary to slightly reduce the number of basic fertilizers.
An undoubted advantage of humus fertilizers is that they are fully compatible with a wide range of compounds, including various fertilizers as well as herbicides and pesticides.
APPLICATION TO VEGETABLE AND HORTICULTURAL CROPS
As we have already pointed out, by using humus fertilizers, it is possible to significantly improve the germination of seeds and increase the yield of various plants.
Humus fertilizers are suitable for enriching any type of soil and for most crops, especially those grown in compacted clay soils.
Humic fertilizers are especially recommended for transplanting young plants when there is a significant amount of rainfall during the growing season, and in late spring frosts on garden plots that are not always watered promptly or adequately.
As a foliar fertilizer, a 0.1% solution of humus fertilizer is most often used, and to apply it to the soil, a 0.2% solution of this substance can be used.
Most importantly, when dissolving humus fertilizer concentrate, room temperature water must be used, not below 59°F (15°C), but also not above 104°F (40°C).
Humus fertilizers dissolve best (without sediment) in soft water, i.e. rainwater, melted water, or settled water.
On vegetable crops (especially during the wet season), humus fertilizers can greatly reduce the risk of diseases such as rot, phylloxera, scab, and a host of other fungal and bacterial diseases.
Read more about the use of humus fertilizers on the most common crops below.
Cucumbers, squash, chard
For these vegetable crops, humus fertilizers can be applied under these plants at any stage of development throughout the season.
Humus fertilizers are most effective when applied during unseasonably cold weather or in excessively wet years, i.e., during unfavorable periods, which may result in reduced yields.
Quite acceptable is a pre-sowing treatment of humus fertilizer and seeds, such as soaking in a 0.05% solution for one day.
After such immersion, the seeds have increased germination rate, germination activity, good seedling growth, and high immunity to various infections. The technique of seed preparation for these crops necessarily includes drying after immersion and germination by conventional methods.
During the growth and development of seedlings of these cultures, it is acceptable to apply to the soil a 0.1% solution of humic acid fertilizer at a dose of 250-300 g per square meter.
Fertilizing the soil in this way reduces the total number of “under seeds” (small, weak seedlings), as well as increases the resistance of seedlings to black stems and eliminates possible errors in caring for seedlings.
Fertilization in the soil can be alternated with foliar applications, for example, once a week in the soil and the following week (also once) by spraying the plants with the same concentration of fertilizer, but using about 25-30 grams of the solution per plant.
Treating these plants with a 0.1% solution of humic fertilizer during the budding period will help reduce the number of “hollow flowers”. Treating plants with humic fertilizer usually results in the formation of more well-arranged fruits, while fruits of atypical varieties either do not appear at all or are very small in number (no more than 1%).
When treating cucumbers in years of excessive rainfall, half of any approved fungicide can be added to the preparation so that powdery mildew prevention treatments can be made.
Tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, potatoes
These crops respond very well to humus fertilizers. Considering the high requirement of plants for adequate amounts of potassium and nitrogen in the soil, humus fertilizers will increase the uptake of these elements by the root system.
At the same time, humus fertilizers and other potassium fertilizers must be applied to these crops because they are in great need of potassium, especially tomatoes.
Given the complexity of humus fertilizers, it is advisable to reduce by half the dose of basic fertilizers, especially nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers, when using these fertilizers.
With regard to humus fertilizers for these crops, it is also possible to start with seed preparation. Soak the seeds in a 0.05% solution of humus fertilizer for 24 hours, after which they are allowed to germinate without drying.
Soaking the seeds of these crops in a solution of humus fertilizer accelerates their germination for 2-3 days, improves their germination activity, and reduces the number of plants that form weak root systems.
Before sowing seedlings, they can be treated with 0.1% humus fertilizer, spending 35-40 grams of the solution per plant. Such seedlings are usually less diseased after transplanting and start growing faster.
Later, when you start “oiling” stop applying humus fertilizer to the roots and spend time only on foliar feeding, i.e. spraying the plants themselves.
Corn, sunflower, and beans
The effect of humus fertilizers on these plants is usually almost imperceptible. It can be seen if humus fertilizer is applied and used to treat weakened plants, as well as soaking seeds (0.1% fertilizer for 24 hours) before planting.
For tree crops, it is not advisable to apply fertilizer under the roots but to apply foliar fertilizer, i.e. to treat the foliage of the plant. In this case, the concentration of the solution can be increased to 1%. Trees respond best to foliar application of peat humus fertilizer.
By foliar application of humus fertilizer, the number of ovaries of the tree crop increases, usually by 25-30%, and it is less prone to fragmentation. Do not treat at once, for greater effect it is better to treat before harvest and treat plants every 20-25 days, starting from the germination stage.
It is perfectly fine to apply humus fertilizer in the planting holes in autumn and spring when the seedlings are placed there, which is highly recommended if the seedlings are weak.
Here it is necessary to use a fortified dose of fertilizer (5-10%) and to pour two to three liters of such a solution in each hole. Then, once the seedlings form leaf plates, foliar sprays (0.1-0.2% solution) can be applied throughout the vegetative period.
It is quite reasonable to use humus fertilizers on soils contaminated with heavy metals and other chemicals. Their application will level harmful substances in fruits and even improve their taste.
The biggest role of humus fertilizers in shrubs is for improving the resistance of various species to late spring frosts. Foliar spraying with a 0.5% solution of humus fertilizer proved to have a slightly lesser effect on currants and gooseberries than on other shrubs.
The first treatment should be applied in early spring when the buds start to bloom. During this period, it is best to apply fertilizer below the roots, distributing about 5-6 liters of a 0.1% solution in the occlusal zone.
After applying this fertilizer, it is best to water the soil. If you want everything to be perfect, loosen the soil before applying the fertilizer, water it, and then cover the soil with a 0.4inch (1 cm) thick layer of humus.
If the shrub is developing normally, you can leave the fertilizer alone until flowering and apply the same dose as above during flowering. You can then fertilize the shrub during ovary formation and a final application in the fall before the leaves start to fall off.
Humus fertilizers are used on flowering crops to improve the overall ornamental value of the plant, prolong the flowering period and form more flower buds. Flowering plants grown in pots are watered with 0.05% fertilizer so that they develop stronger and can even withstand long-term transport before being planted on the plot.
In addition, this fertilizer can be used to propagate flower varieties (such as roses) using green cuttings. To do this, the cuttings should be covered with cling film in the greenhouse before they are taken, and after they are taken they should be placed vertically in a 0.5% solution of fertilizer so that one-third of the cuttings are submerged in the composition.
The time to soak the cuttings can be from 12 to 24 hours, usually the warmer the room where you soak the cuttings, the shorter the soaking time should be, so at 86°F (30°C) is enough for 12 hours and at 59°F (15°C) takes 24 hours.
In addition, you can soak bulbs and tubers in a 0.25% solution of humus fertilizer before planting, which helps the plants grow more actively and flower earlier (from 3-4 days to a week and a half).
In addition, soaking tubers in such a solution for one hour reduces the likelihood of rotting by 70%. If you want to reduce the chances of rot by 95%, then add any approved fungicide to the solution.
That’s all we wanted to tell you about humus fertilizers, if you don’t understand something or have any questions, then please write in the comments and we will be happy to answer.