Humic acids (shale) are comprised of a mixture of weak aliphatic (carbon chains), aromatic (carbon rings), sugar, amino acid, phenol groups, carboxyl groups, ester, amine, and trace minerals.
Humic Shale has taken over 75 to 250 million years to create given that it comes from the times of the Dinosaurs. This was during the time that the continents were one landmass called Pangaea. During this time there was animal and plant life unlike any that grows today. Through the years the forest litter composted on the ground, as it does today in our forests. However, because of the differences in the ecosystem, there was a diversity of microorganisms that are not found today that broke down this plant mater into the base for what is called Humic shale today.
Humic shale was covered for millions of years during the continental shift that took place during the extinction of the dinosaurs. Because of this violent shift in continents, the ecosystem collapsed. The continents buried this material under tons of dirt and rock along with the microbes that feed on the material for thousands of years digesting the decayed remains of tropical rain forests into a sponge-like material. This now spongy decayed ancient plant matter and the anaerobic microorganisms have performed a miracle in creating a super food for our plants today.
This now composted material is unlike any that can be made naturally today, the fundamental reason being the changes in our ecological composition. Thankfully this was not lost, we can use the Humic Shale to our benefit in our own gardens and crops.
With this said, even in Pangaea there were different ecological conditions much like what we see in our world today despite the fact that it was one landmass. This is the fundamental reason we use not just one Humic Shale but 3 from 3 separate locations. This means not only a massive difference in the bottom line mix of Humic shale we use but an addition of complexity to the final product as well.
It sounds like Humates (Humic Shale) are the answer, But they are only part of the story. Humates have been shown to provide a significant increase in crop yields when combined with other natural organic materials to promote the digestion of the material within the root area.
There has been a consistent result of increased root growth in all crops tested showcasing dramatic increases in length, density, and radius of plant roots. Root system vigor is very important to the nutrient uptake capability of plants. Plant stability is enhanced, and plants are better able to find and absorb water with a broad-based root system.
The humic matter has been shown to increase the chlorophyll content in plants and can prevent or correct chlorosis.
Improvement in the uptake of nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and iron, as well as innumerable trace elements essential for plant health.
“The active nature of Humic acid” works to enhance a plant. In addition, biologically active compounds found in healthy humus can enhance plant to grow.
Because of the chemical bonding interactions of Humic acid, plants are able to grow in soil with more widely varying pH values. Finally, plants which are healthy and receive all of their required nutrients are better able to combat disease and pests.
Why are Humic and Fulvic acids so different?
The main reason humic and fulvic acids are so different is due to the source of the raw material. There are 5 major sources of raw material to make humic and fulvic acids out of; Rutile sand deposits, Pete Moss deposits, Lignites (sometimes referred to as Pre-Lignitic Coals), Coal, and Leonardite or Leonardite Shales. These raw materials can all be classified as Humates. The big difference between all these products is how old they are and how deep they are buried in the earth.
Let me walk through the 5 sources listed.
Rutile sand deposits are mostly found in the Florida area. They are the youngest of the 5 given they are not buried very deep. This makes them the weakest source of Humates available.
Peat Moss deposits, commonly found on top of the ground, can be found all over the Northwestern and Southeastern United States generally in forest type geographical areas. They make good potting mixes and are the second youngest of the 5. You will know you are dealing with a Peat Moss deposit when the Ash content is constantly referred to.
Lignites or Pre-Lignitic Coals are the most common sources of Humates on the market. This product is usually an overburden to a coal mine. There is no BTU value to this product, so the mines sell it as Humates. This product never became Coal, hence the use of the “Pre” prefix. The third youngest of the 5, it has a very high level of petroleum-based chemicals and is a poor choice for a Humic additive.
Lignitic Coal the fourth oldest is a raw source that contains a much higher level of Humic acid than all other sources. But, do not be fooled by Humic acid percentages. Higher is not always better. If you look at the high percentage of Humic acids on the market, you will also notice a large amount of sediment on the bottom of the barrel. This is the “Humin” portion of Humates. These add no value to the soil but they are great for compost piles. They will not dissolve or go into solution at any pH, unlike Humic acid and Fulvic acid. The Dakota’s, Utah, Idaho, and Colorado are loaded with this type of Humate.
Leonardite or Leonardite Shale deposits are the highest quality products on the market. They have oxidized past the coal stage yet are buried extremely shallow. Their Humic content may not be as high as Lignites, but their Fulvic content is much higher. Many producers of Humic and Fulvic acids think and classify there Humate deposits as Leonardite Shales when they are really Lignites.
Note: The molecular weight of a high-quality Humic acid is around 10,000 decreasing down to lower quality Humic acids with molecular weights as low as 1,000.
Among these elements within the Humic shale there are thousands of organic solids that can not be separated for analysis. We use a refining process to remove certain heavy metals form the final Humic Shale we use.