After a recent trip to Italy and Spain, the question on whether to use liquid or granular humic material has been stirring in my mind. These markets are dominated by liquid humics, which are made from a full range of raw material sources.
From China, America, Canada and Australia, these materials become equal when the active ingredient is extracted.
Now when you get to the finer details, there are differences between the liquids made from each of these materials, and the efficiency with which the raw material is converted to liquid. However, the demand for humics to be applied as a raw material is next to zero. Why is this?
Why add the extra cost of liquefying humics when the raw, insoluble material has so many benefits?
There are some short answers to this: established irrigation systems, more practical in an environment with low rainfall, etc. The catch is, how does this affect the issue of low organic matter? Most of the organic matter is extracted from the material during liquid production. What is left is the active ingredients (humic and fulvic acid), some carbon and traces of the remaining minerals present in the raw material mixed with lots of water.
If humic material was to be applied as a raw material like it is in North America, you would be able to boost your levels of organic matter while remediating the soil from years of chemical abuse. We all know that the raw humic material is insoluble, but I often find this term misleading. Raw humic material may be relatively insoluble, but research shows that the response time of granular humic material in the soil is a matter of weeks. In fact, within 12 weeks Black Earth’s Mini Granule Fines will be 100% dissolved.
So why not just plan ahead, apply this material before you seed your crop? By the time your seedling requires the necessary minerals the humic material has already boosted the microbial activity, broken down the soil particles and is helping to retain the moisture in the soil.
Key Aspects to Consider When Deciding
So this brings us to the decision - liquids or granules? Key aspects to consider are: application method, levels of soil organic matter, solubility and of course return on investment. If you have an established irrigation system then liquids are a low cost and easy application method. If you only grow one crop per season, then a pre-seeding application is easy.
If your soil's organic matter is low, granular application is a must! There are so many variables to consider in this question that it is really a case by case decision. You need to consider the requirements of crop, the cost of freight, the yield response, and also the market price of your crop. So to put my mind at ease, this question does not have a single answer. It is not going to be the same for every farmer, for every climate, and for every market.
What you should do is ask someone. Tell us your story, where you are farming and what type of system you are operating and we can provide our recommendation.