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Research With Leonardite
by 360 Organics

Preliminary experimental work with leonardite (Tri-Lig) by the U. S. Bureau of Mines  indicates that its presence in soil appears to increase aeration, tilth, and workability as well as better water movement (increases soil capillary and noncapillary space).  The cation exchange capacity of the soil is markedly increased thus, improving longer-term retention of applied inorganic fertilizer.

Leonardite (Tri-Lig) increases the buffering properties of soil and chelation of metal ions under alkaline conditions, according to Dr. Senn of Clemson University.  The humic fractions also act to effect a biological stimulation of growth in that they serve as a substrate for microorganisms, as well as direct plant growth stimulation by providing a slow release of auxins, amino acids, and organic phosphates.

Leonardite (Tri-Lig) tends to promote the conversion of a number of mineral elements into forms available to plants.  The increased availability of phosphate in the presence of humic acids has been shown .  Also, it has been shown that humic acids are effective in converting iron into available forms, which protect plants from chlorosis even in the presence of a high concentration of the phosphate ion.  Humic substances facilitate the translocation of iron and phosphorus from roots to shoots of the sunflower.  In the absence of humic acid, iron forms insoluble precipitates with phosphorus.  Additionally, phosphate accumulation in plant tips is linear function of increasing concentration of humic acids even though the higher rates of humic acid (above 5 percent) decrease crop yields.  DeKock suggested that humic acids might serve as carriers of iron by facilitating translocation across cell membranes.  Humic acid stimulates root initiation of hypocolyl segments of beans (8,11) and low concentrations (3.6 percent of humic acid stimulates tomato seed germination.

Freeman found that using leonardite as a soil additive in field experiments resulted in larger yields in potatoes and soybeans.  Similar results were obtained with potatoes in Homestead, Florida.  Leonardite (Tri-Lig) added to fertilizer used as a side dress for tomatoes, at the rate of 15 pounds per acre, obtained a 16.7 percent yield increase in Florida, and used as a seed drill application, it resulted in an increase in seedling and young plant growth and yielded untreated plants.  Inclusion of 0.1 to 5 percent by volume of a Florida humate in the potting media utilized to grow table palms and philodendron improved length, quality, color and fresh weight of tops and roots of those plants.  Verzi  in and unpublished report found that addition of leonardite (Tri-Lig) to agar or soil at the rate of 0.5 grams per liter (30 lbs. per acre) would inhabit ammonia toxicity to citrus roots and result in larger root systems and top growth of the plants.  These tests are now being carried out in large established citrus groves to determine if there is some correlation with young tree decline and soil ammonia toxicity or some other factor that leonardite (Tri-Lig) might correct.  Tissue studies of leaves from these trials and other similar greenhouse studies indicate a significantly higher level of zinc on the foliage of citrus trees when leonardite (Tri-Lig) is added to the soil at rates between 35 and 80 pounds per

A study by the Fujienda Agricultural Experiment Station, a citrus experiment station in Japan, indicated that addition of 45 kilograms of humate per ten acres aided in the movement of calcium carbonate and magnesium to a depth of 30 centimeters below the soil surface.  They theorized that the humic acid formed a chelate with the calcium and magnesium to aid in its movement through the soil.  In this same report they stated that this same application indicated penetration of the humic acid to a depth of 20 to 30 centimeters into the soil in a period of six months.

They also observed increased aggregation of the soil and increased water permeability in alluvial clay soils.  Available P2O5 was markedly increased in amount with no increase in phosphate absorption coefficient.


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