When Every Drop of Water Counts!

Posted by Brett Halliday

Aug 8, 2014 8:01:00 AM

Walking through the fields, it is clear to see that the summer is starting to take its toll. Kicking up dust as you trod through the crop for an inspection. For some farmers, this is a normal thing and they see it year after year. But does it need to be?

At Black Earth, we are always receiving feedback from our customers that their soils are holding moisture through the hot summer months and it is making all the difference. So, for all of you who are not using humates, or want to know how to best optimize the use of your humates, here are a few recommendations for optimizing moisture retention.

are dusty fields a regular part of your summer

Firstly, you need to assess your soil type.

For simplicity, we will stick with heavy clay and sandy scenarios. Humic acids increase moisture holding capacity in all soils; however these two extremities provide excellent results and will have your plants living in soil heaven.

Heavy clay soils are compact and create an environment where moisture cannot be held through the summer months.

When you do get rain, the water will likely run off the surface. And, any moisture that is below the root zone does not have enough aeration to move up through the soil. Therefore, the top zone of your soil spends all day baking in the sun and leaves nothing for your plants. So to fix this, you need to aerate your soils to allow for capillary movements and include humic acids that will hold onto that moisture for when your plants really need it. The CEC of humic acid is 450 meq/100g and fulvic acid is 1,450 meq/100g. With the average soil having a CEC of 15-25 meq/100g, you are going to drastically improve your holding capacity.

When you are farming in a sandy environment where you can’t even hold onto nutrients, let alone moisture, you have another difficult challenge.

Organic matter is of primary importance and is vital to the retention of moisture. When you apply humates, you are not just adding humic and fulvic acids, you are also adding organic carbon. This will help hold onto moisture and create an environment that invites microbes for sustaining plant life and developing a beneficial soil profile.

So, when do you apply, and how much?

When you ask this question, a questionable answer is always provided. Now, it’s not because we like to make it hard on you, it’s that there are many variables that need to be considered that are specific to your farms soil type, location, crop, and operational capacities. There is a general guideline that we use at Black Earth which incorporates both liquid and dry applications during the year that will have drastic results in your moisture retention.

For assistance in determining the best application method and rates for your property, just give us a call at Black Earth and we are happy to help. Don't forget to download the research results of humics in agriculture settings.

See the Research

Topics: water retention, agriculture, humic acid, soil structure, soil additive