The term ‘phenomenon’ describes something extraordinary or remarkable. It is often used when reporting record-breaking sporting successes or the marketing achievements of pop culture icons. The term is rarely used outside of this reporting of events and persons. Australian swimming star, Ian Thorpe, is a sporting phenomenon, and the rocket-like rise of the Internet is a media phenomenon. Now a rapidly accumulating body of scientific research suggests that a single, low-molecular weight, organic material, called fulvic acid, could justifiably be termed an agricultural phenomenon. Solid science has now catalogued a vast array and variety of benefits associated with this material, and some of these will be analysed in this article.
What is Fulvic Acid?
The majority of growers interested in improving soil and plant nutrition will now be familiar with humic acid. Fulvic acid is, in essence, the principal ‘active’ ingredient in humic acid. It is the driving force behind the performance of all humate-based materials. Humic acids are exceptional materials in their own right, but many of their beneficial features are actually related to their fulvic component.
Fulvic acid is more biologically active than humic acid. It contains more oxygen, less carbon and is markedly more acidic than humic acid. Fulvic acid has a much lower molecular weight, providing more potential for mobility within the plant, which in turn facilitates a greater influence on metabolic processes. Fulvic acid is the ‘fast food’, the ‘Colonel’s recipe’ in the success of humates in agriculture. It is far more versatile than humic acid, and it is arguably the most valuable input in biological agriculture.
Fulvic 1400™ – Bio-Active Fulvic Acid Concentrate
NTS have identified an exceptional quality fulvic acid and secured exclusive marketing rights for this standout product.
Fulvic 1400™ (Bio-Active Fulvic Acid Concentrate) was released on July 1, 2000, and the first shipment sold out within ten days. It continues to be a NTS top seller today.
The Electric Life of Plants
Fulvic acid is a powerful organic electrolyte, which can balance and energise all cells (microbe, plant, animal or human). An electrolyte is a substance, soluble in water and other mediums, which is capable of conducting electrical current. In a 1926 publication called ‘A Bipolar Theory of Living Processes’ by Dr George Crile, it was demonstrated that the physical well-being of plants, animals and microbes is determined by proper electrical potential. In Dr. Crile’s famous, much-repeated Amoebae experiment, he reduced the normal 20 Millivolt electrical potential of the amoebae to zero, and the amoebae began to disintegrate in much the same way that human cells change form and structure as death approaches. The addition of an electrolyte dramatically reversed the situation, with the amoebae immediately resurrecting and returning to its former healthy state. The significance of the restorative powers of fulvic acid in the human situation has not been overlooked. Fulvic acid is the ‘hot’ new kid on the block in alternative medicine (check the Internet). Fulvic acids contain electrolytes that are essential for the well-being of plants. They serve as tiny battery chargers, providing a constant trickle-charge for each cell. Maintaining maximum electrical potential in plants equates to optimum growth, yield and plant health. Fulvic acid can restore electrical balance that has been disturbed during stress periods (i.e. storms, temperature extremes and disease), and this can be the key to the restoration of plant health.
The Fulvic Soil Cleanup
Modern agriculture showers the soil with toxic residues. Residues from herbicides, pesticides and fungicides combine with heavy metals from acid-treated fertilisers, toxins from polluted water supplies and even unwanted industrial pollutants in our rainfall. The end result can be a soil-life environment that is far removed from the elementary comfort zone preferred by beneficial microorganisms. Fulvic acid is the solution to this toxic overload. This incredibly absorbent material is a powerful detoxifier. Humic acid has a very high CEC of 450, but fulvic acid is like a toxin-sponge with a CEC of 1400. If a child accidently ingests poison, the first treatment is invariably activated charcoal, which absorbs the toxins in the body before they can continue causing cellular damage. Fulvic 1400™, with its CEC of 1400, acts in much the same way in the soil, although here the toxins are not just isolated and concentrated, they are also biodegraded more rapidly.
The ‘Honeypot’ Effect
Leading US microbiologist, Professor Elaine Ingham, has demonstrated the fact that even the most biodegradable of chemicals like Glyphosate herbicides do not rapidly break down in soils that are ‘microbially challenged’. Unfortunately the majority of our soils now fall into this ‘challenged’ category, often due to toxic residues. When fulvic acid absorbs and stores these toxins, it also precipitates the biological degradation of these unwanted materials. In soils with limited microbial activity, fulvic acid can be such a potent microbial promotant that sparse populations of microbes are drawn to the fulvic colloid like bees to a honey pot. This ‘honey pot effect’ catalyses rapid and efficient biodegradability in soils where it could normally be expected to take months or years until the poisons were naturally removed.
Humic acids also exhibit these detoxifying qualities, but the fulvic detox response is more pronounced, due to a greater capacity to ‘bind’ with organic and inorganic pollutants, and also due to the fact that fulvic acid is more leachable than humic acid and can cart the remaining toxins along on its journey down through the soil profile.
The Fulvic Dissolver
Fulvic acid has a unique capacity to dissolve insoluble materials. Research suggests that iron, a poorly transported mineral, essential for all plant life, is dissolved, complexed and transported into the plant much more efficiently in the presence of this organic acid. A low-molecular weight piggyback ensures easy access and improved translocation of the iron cation.
Fulvic acid also solubilises potassium. Potassium is the most expensive of the minerals from a fertilising perspective, but large reserves are present, in insoluble form, in all but the lightest of soils. Potassium released by the ‘fulvic dissolver’ will reduce fertilising costs.
Silica is the flavour of the month in soil science circles. Fulvic acid has a particularly strong solubilising potential for silica. Water-soluble silica performs a similar role to calcium, strengthening cell walls and building brix levels.
Research also confirms enhanced phosphate solubility and stability, but silica, potassium and phosphate are all more susceptible to fulvic solubilisation in the presence of iron. Fulvic acid has an affinity for iron and can actually transport three to ten times its own weight of this metal. The mineral products most susceptible to disintegration by fulvic acid are those that contain the highest percentage of iron. NTS Soft Rock ™ contains phosphorous (10%), silica (25%) and iron (2%)*. The solubility of this product could definitely be enhanced by fulvic acid. Rock dust also contains good iron levels, and most rock mineral fertilisers will perform better with fulvic acid.
*These percentages may vary. Please refer to Product Information Sheet for up to date analysis.
A Chelator And Penetrator
Fulvic acid is a highly efficient chelating agent, and the benefits of chelation are further magnified by an increased permeability of plant membranes achieved by cell-sensitizing agents in the acid. This increased permeability translates into improved uptake of all nutrients and moisture. In fact, any material that is applied in conjunction with fulvic acid, will be absorbed more efficiently. A related improvement in the efficiency of herbicides is one obvious benefit of this particular feature. There is also obvious potential for improving the performance of applied fertiliser when the desired element can be chelated, rendered more penetrative and also more efficiently transported into the plant via a piggyback on the back of the ultra-small fulvic molecule.
Oxygen Enhancement, Brix-Building And Drought Resistance
Oxygen is the most important element for microorganisms, and it also comprises an essential ingredient of the photosynthesis trio – sunlight, carbon dioxide and water (H2O). The fulvic acid molecule itself contains significant oxygen levels, but several researchers have also confirmed that oxygen is absorbed more intensely in the presence of fulvic acids. During the most vigorous phase of the growth stage and during the initial reproductive (fruiting) stage, biochemical processes are most active, and there is a heavy oxygen requirement to sustain these processes. Fulvic acid, supplied at these stages, relieves oxygen deficiency and increases metabolic activity.
Similarly, some of the adverse effects of dry air during drought can be reduced if the cell is able to assimilate increased quantities of oxygen. Improved drought resistance is also related to the brix building capacity of fulvic acid. Fulvic acids change the pattern of metabolism of carbohydrates, resulting in the accumulation of soluble sugars (high brix). These sugars, in turn, increase the pressure of osmosis inside the cell wall, which helps the plant to withstand wilting in hot conditions. This high brix and improved oxygen uptake are drought resistance features and when we also consider the sponge-like absorbency of the fulvic molecule, there is the potential for substantial benefits for dryland farmers.
The Fulvic Phenomenon – Other Benefits
Fulvic acid contains an auxin-like growth response that enhances cell division and elongation. Root cell division is magnified with obvious benefits for all root crops. Potatoes have proven particularly responsive to fulvic acid promotion. Fulvic acid also directly influences numerous enzymatic processes, including the intensified metabolism of the proteins RNA and DNA. This is relevant to broadacre cereal growers chasing a premium for prime hard wheat. Fulvic acid contains considerably more free radicals than humic acid, and this is part of the optimal plant health package.
Seed treatment with fulvic acid can be very productive. Succinic and fumaric acid compounds, found within fulvic acids are biological promotants, encouraging earlier growth, more roots and more shoots. Several research projects have reported increased crop yield from seed treatment alone. Finally, fulvic acid can substitute for or interact with sunlight to enhance photosynthesis. This can be particularly valuable during prolonged cloudy periods.
All these listed benefits are documented at length, with full research references, in Dr William Jackson’s award-winning, 1000-page book on humic and fulvic acids, entitled ‘Organic Soil Conditioning’. Fulvic acid is indeed a phenomenon – it is the single most productive input in agriculture – a potential magnified by versatility.
Fulvic 1400™ Versatility
1) Fulvic 1400™ can be combined with all sulphate-based trace elements to provide an inexpensive chelating option.
2) Unlike humic acid, which is incompatible with calcium nitrate, Fulvic 1400™ can be combined with calcium nitrate to chelate the calcium component and stabilise the nitrogen component.
3) Unlike humic acid, Fulvic 1400™ is compatible with all fertilisers containing soluble phosphate, including phosphoric acid. Phosphate uptake is enhanced, and soil phosphate levels are stabilised.
4)Fulvic 1400™ will increase the uptake of any material, including fertilisers and systemics.
5) Fulvic 1400™ can lengthen the performance time of urea by up to 80 days.
6) According to recent South American reports, fulvic acid can increase the uptake and translocation of phosphorous acid based fungicides. Fulvic 1400™ is compatible with phosphorus acid.
Note: Humic acid in the form of soluble humates, although not as versatile, is still preferable to Fulvic 1400™ for soil applications, as this material has more long-term stability.