Humates and regenerative soil.

Humates including fulvic acid are derived from humus. Humus (stable carbon as organic matter) is created in nature via mechanical (biological) rather than chemical processes, over time. The humus content in the soil is a byproduct of the “biological cascade” an interface of plant exudates, bacteria and fungi.

Humus is basically the remains and exudates (outputs) of bacteria converted by fungi. Plants aid this process in feeding the soil life with photosynthates (sugars exuded from the roots) The following link is a good short reference; Microbial Traits, not Plants, Determine Abundance of Organic Matter. Humus is essential for longer term carbon storage in soil.

Compost must also obtain an end process of humification to provide the soil and plants with accessible carbon and nutrients, capable of longer term delivery to the plants/ crop. The carbon content of the humus will remain in the soil and deliver benefits for decades, unlike compost that has not completely achieved this end process. The humus has countless benefits for bio- intensive soils and is a cornerstone of regenerative carbon farming.

By using strategies like “No dig” (lower than the root zone, 70mm-300mm depth) we allow the bacteria and fungi a stable roof over their heads and the best access to decomposing matter provided from previous root systems, promoting a foundation for unhindered humus production.This practice is best achieved by using a broadfork, allowing oxygenation to 300mm without turning soil, also allowing compost and other amendments a way down via the tyne holes to the lower root zone.

Humates can be applied directly to the soil, mixed in with your fertilisers, or as a foliar spray. It is available in different forms for these two purposes.

We use humates as a boosting regenerative input in a number of applications.

To encourage humic production in hot compost we add humic acid powder to the mix.

By adding soluble humate granules(dissolved) to Effective Microbes before we spray them on plants or surrounding soil.

By coating our Tailored Organic Fertilisers with both soluble humate granules and humic acid powder when we make the mix.

To hasten the development of humus naturally in soils depleted of organic matter we foliar spray the plants, drenching the soil with a soluble humate tea either with soluble humate granules or fulvic acid powder (fulvate), promoting nutrient pathways within the plants and assisting plant exudation. See below for preparation.

We foliar spray humic before fruiting for increased root and mycelial development, once plants are developing fruit or leafy greens are establishing we switch to fulvic based foliar sprays.

We foliar spray leafy greens and vegies with fulvic , promoting more beneficial bacteria so as not to stain the produce.

Humates are a naturally occurring material derived from residues of ancient ecologies. Leonardite is an example of a humate rich mineral amalgam. Humates are high in humified organic matter and humic acid, which is a powerful fungal promotant. Cellulose digesting fungi are important for making stable humus, but have been destroyed in many soils on the planet. Humates also contain a growth promotant that enhances cell division and elongation, increasing nutrient uptake by up to 40%. (reference: Agriculture Solutions).

Humates have a strong cation exchange capacity, an ionic bond that store and release nutrients (N.P.K) and trace elements when required by the plant, minimising leaching and run off (therefore lowering fertiliser needs, financial and environmental costs) and also assisting in root zone moisture retention.

Over time when optimum humus, organic matter, levels in your bed soil are achieved (+10%) you will benefit from greatly reduced midsummer watering requirements and making midday veg harvests more feasible. see Paul and Elizabeth Kaiser interview with Curtis Stone


Preparing soluble humates.


  • Mix 10g soluble humic acid granules to 10L water. Mix well then leave for 1 day so sludge can settle at the bottom, and doesn’t clog your sprayers. You only need to apply this concentrated liquid at a rate of 3ml per square metre, so you will need to dilute it to spread it evenly over your plants
  • For fulvic acid powder; mix 12grams to a small amount of water eg a cup and blend in, then add to 10 litres and leave overnight, continue as below.
  • When possible add 500ml to 1 litre of stable effective microbes (or a worm wee) in the 10 litre solution.
  • Add the liquid into your spray bottle or spray pack. Suggested dilution is 20:1, so you will then spray 60ml per square metre, this should be enough to achieve 70% coverage of leaves, which is recommended.
  •  Spray in early morning ideally, or late in the afternoon, when the plant leaves are best able to absorb it (stomata are open).
  • The sludge at the bottom is great for adding to your compost.


Further notes.

NTS Granulated Humic Acid 70% (non soluble) in a slow release form. (ACO Certified)

 We add this to our Complete Organic Fertiliser, COF, as well as our compost. It helps to stabilise NPK, store carbon, enhances composting and is a powerful promotant for microbial and fungal activity. Can be purchased in Tasmania through us.

NTS Soluble Humate Granules (ACO Certified)

Also used in our Complete Organic Fertiliser, COF, We use humates, which are a powerful fungi promotant. Through naturally evolved process they make other nutrients in the soil available to plants, whilst also helping build stable organic matter (carbon) in the soil. We use these humate granules for spraying our crops mid growth to increase cellular nutrient absorption, stabilise soil carbon and make soil nutrients available to the plant. Can be purchased in smaller quantities in Tasmania through our online store ActiveVista.