Let’s take a look at the benefits of using humic or fulvic as plant fertilizer in your hydroponic setup.
Humic and fulvic acids are considered the “missing link” in agriculture and it is only in recent years that agriculturists and experts are rediscovering the benefits of its application to both conventional farming setups and hydroponics setups.
What makes these two acids so important to maintaining healthy systems?
There are no known disadvantages of using humic and fulvic acids for agricultural purposes. There are however, plenty of stunning advantages that many hydroponics growers may not have been aware of.
Fulvic acid on the other hand, is a low molecular weight humic acid that has a lighter color – it’s usually yellow or light brown once reconstituted and applied to a hydroponics system.
Humic and fulvic acids are not really fertilizers as they do not contain nutrients. They are however, extremely potent soil and system conditioners, and both conventional farmers and hydroponics growers will benefit greatly from using them.
HA and FA should be used in conjunction with nutrient mixes and/or fertilizers designed for hydroponics systems.
While it is true that hydroponics systems do not have soil, HA and FA can still help as these act primarily on the nutrients available in the system. The absence of soil does not reduce the effectiveness of these compounds at all.
1. Promotes Beneficial Fungi
Humic acid is a powerful revolutionizing agent in agriculture because it directly promotes the growth of different kinds of beneficial fungi, including the all-popular mycorrhizal fungi, which is now being mass-produced and is commercially available to hydroponics growers because it helps improve nutrient uptake in plants and also helps reduce the incidence of root diseases.
As you may already know, root diseases can become prevalent in hydroponics setups because the roots of the plants are constantly in contact with the nutrient solution.
By adding humic acid, fulvic acid, and mycorrhizal fungi to the equation, you will be creating the perfect environment for your crops to thrive minus the threat of molds and root issues.
2. Increases Cell Growth, Elongation, and Heightens Nutrient Uptake
By buffering the immediate surroundings that affect plants, humic acid is capable of improving nutrient absorption of plants by as much as 40%, and it can also help prevent the incidence of the dreaded condition called nutrient lock.
Nutrient lock is triggered by one or both of the following conditions: there are too many mineral salts in the system or the pH level has fluctuated so much that the plant roots can no longer utilize available nutrients.
So there are plenty of nutrients in the nutrient solution, but not enough of it is being utilized by the plants, leading to plant malnutrition. Humic acid is able to improve the uptake of nutrients by working on the permeability of the plant’s cellular structure.
Additionally, it also contains an auxin-like promotant that increases the rate of cellular elongation and growth. All in all, if you want a much bigger harvest this year, there really is no reason for you to no try applying humic acid and fulvic acid.
3. Improves The Quality of Your Nutrient Solution
Humic acid is known for having a high CEC or cation exchange capacity. What does this mean?
What it essentially does is it binds to micro elements in the soil or water and holds them in a form that is easier for plants to directly absorb for sustenance and growth.
It has plenty of negatively charged ions that attach themselves to positively charged cations in the nutrient solution. The cations contain nutrients like calcium, magnesium, etc. In short: humic acid essentially frees the nutrients available in the solution so your plants can actually use them.
Think of HA and FA as a means of turbo-charging your systems ability to sustain its crops. The process of binding negatively charged ions to positively charged cations is called chelation.
Both soil humus and peat moss contain natural FA and HA, but the commercial variant can offer up to five times what occurs in nature. With this in mind, it is easy to imagine what the regular application of humic acid can easily do to you crops, especially if they have been struggling for quite some time now.
4. Regulates The Depletion Zone
The area around the roots of the plants (whether it’s soil or a nutrient solution) can be come easily depleted because plants uptake macro and micro nutrients continually.
What HA and FA do is they reduce this depletion zone precisely because they can bind to positive cations, and they essentially act as large storage boxes where plants can just reach in and get nutrients whenever they need to.
Humic acids have a natural affinity to plant roots, so what happens after they bind to positive cations is they are drawn to the living root structure of the plant, where the root network is ready for the uptake of nutrients.
The process takes place repeatedly, throughout the day, and with sufficient application of humic acids, you can be assured of a truly bountiful harvest, even if you haven’t been growing crops hydroponically for a long time.
5. Improves Hydroponic Media
One of the more recent observations of experts is that humic acids are actually capable of improving the quality of grow media, like clay, which is the base material for expanded clay pellets.
Continuous exposure to humic acids can make clay softer, more porous, and aerobic too. One of the reasons why expanded clay pellets are often combined with perlite or vermiculite is due to its less than stellar record when it comes to aeration of the plant roots. Low oxygen conditions are never a good thing in hydroponics, and can easily lead to a host of problems that can greatly affect the quality of your harvest.
What is interesting here is that despite the fact that clay is not really organic matter per se, it still yields to the complex compounds found in humic acids. In addition to improving the aerobic capacity of clay, experts have also discovered that the clay, after long exposure to humic acids, can also drain moisture more quickly.
And let’s not forget that in addition to its clay-binding properties, humic acids are also capable of stimulating plant growth, increasing nutrient uptake, and they can also help remove toxic chemical compounds and heavy metals from the plant’s immediate environment.
Whether you are a conventional farmer or a modern hydroponics grower who is always on the lookout for the latest innovations in soil-less cultivation, you really cannot go wrong with applying humic acids.
Humic acids come in powder and liquid forms. While it’s alright to add the powder directly to your hydroponics system, it would be best to combine the powder with purified water before mixing it with the rest of the nutrient solution.
In the event that you are able to purchase liquid humic acid, you can definitely add the liquid form to the nutrient reservoir directly. Unlike nutrients and fertilizers, you don’t have to apply extremely large quantities of humic acid to begin stabilizing your system.
When it comes to humic acids, a little is sufficient, so adding more doesn’t really benefit your plants more. Just be sure to reapply regularly to maintain the supply in the system.
If you are interested in using humic acids for foliar spraying, add 20 mg/ml of humic acids for every 20 liters of water. For general system maintenance, dissolve 100 mg/ml of humic acids for every 100 ml of water.