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The ferment activity of humic and fulvic acid preparations.

By Boris V. Levinsky, PhD
December 2001

    In recent years most of the soil and agrochemical scientists have paid serious attention to the research of humus acids (humic, ulmic, and fulvic acids) and their action on plant growth and development and the direct processes running in soils.  William R. Jackson in one of his books “Environmental Care & Share” writes:

“The ecological significance of the biological effects of humic substances becomes more meaningful when we consider the overall impact of these humic materials on the productivity and fertility of soil and water ecosystems. In addition to facilitating the dissolution of most otherwise insoluble metallic salts, humic substances are involved in a variety of reactions in soils, sediments, and water with major nutrients such as ammonia, nitrates phosphates, and silicates. Research indicates that these interactions not only considerably increase the retention and residence time of the nutrients in the growing media, but also enrich and biologically condition the growing media. These interactions and effects together have profound influence on the biological production process”

    In various research works and publications scientists make an attempt to announce that fulvic acids play the most important role in those processes, because of their mobility and lower molecule size. These statements are often made without scientific validity and without direct research confirmation.  In fact, this theory conflicts with much of the "serious" research works, much of our practical application experience, and also with simple common sense, based on our understanding of the chemical nature of these complex and unique compounds.

    To help confirm my statement I would like to share some results obtained by Russian scientists during extensive research in 1983. (“Theory of action of physiologically active substances” Dnepropetrovsk, 1983.). They have proved that ferments executing carbohydrate, nitrogen and phosphorous exchange are tightly connected with humus acids (humic and fulvic); they are extracted with them and fully preserving their activity.

Table 1

Ferment activity of Humic and Fulvic Acids of Sod – Podzol soil.

Activity of ferments per 100g of Humus Acid

Humic Acids

Fulvic Acids


Organic mineral background


Organic mineral background


Invertease, mg glucose





Protease, mg amino nitrogen  





Urease, mg NH4





Phospotease, mg P2O5





Peroxidase, mg Ag





Polyphenolxidase, ml 0.1 KIO3





    The humic part of the humus acids had a higher active concentration of hydrolytic ferments, than the fulvic part.  The activity of the Invertease ferment of humic acids was higher by 5-6 times, the Urease 3.5 times and the Protease 1.5 times compared to fulvic acids. 

    This data shows that ferments of the soil’s oxidized enzymatic system are connected with different types of Humus. Polyphenolxidase, executing in soils oxidizing synthesis of Kinones for further heterocondesation of humus acids, is mostly concentrated being a part of humic acids. Its active concentration is 3.5 times higher than that of fulvic acids.     

    Just one ferment, Peroxidase, taking part in oxidizing decomposition of Humus is almost fully extracted together with fulvic acids.

    The data of the research proves that of the 6 most important soil ferments, 5 are more active in humic acids, and just one in fulvic acids.  This indicates that the complex structure of humus acids cannot be divided into "the most important or the least important ones", because they are all unique creations of Mother Nature, acting together in a system and they can never act separately in their real natural action.