Its well known that fertilizers are analyzed on the basis of their value of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium or Potash (N-P-K). They provide and enhance nutrient sources for the plant, but the difference between the two lies in the benefits to the soil itself. Some of the downfalls of using fertilizer is how hard it can be on the soil health, how much of it gets washed away by water and deposited to water bodies like rivers or lakes, and how it’s effectiveness is compromised in sub-optimal soil conditions. Over time the chemicals and overuse of fertilizer can take its toll on soil. So what can we do to improve soil for grass or gardens if this is the case?
What Are Humics?
This is where the relationship between fertilizer and humics comes in to play. Humics are best known as soil conditioners and make your soil perform better even when they are applied in marginal soil conditions. Humic products help to retain water, promote nutrient uptake into the root systems and plants, and build a fertile soil that promotes a healthy growing environment. They are like probiotics for your plants and soils. Humics come in different forms. The most well known being Compost. Not all compost contains humics, but ours here at Rocky Mountain Compost does. Other forms of humics are in a liquid version and can be applied topically. We have that also.
When used together with fertilizer, humics can help the longevity, uptake and efficiency of fertilizers by holding them in the root zone longer while increasing the uptake and retention of nutrients in the plant. They work as compliments to each other and the benefit you see is a more efficient use of your fertilizer and the money you have spent to add it.
Understanding the differences and the role each can play in your fertilization program can help you get healthier soils. Adding humics to your existing process is one of the best ways to begin a more balanced approach to help restore soil and plant health.
See also the article on Topdressing:
For lawns: aerate your lawn and spread ½” layer of compost over the lawn to increase the microbial activity and health of your lawns. For flower beds and gardens spread a 2-3” layer in and around your plants which will work into the soil over time. Or mix into the soil before planting.
If you have some problem soils that have saline or sodium or heavy clay, then a good soil test in needed. Interpreting the health of your soil in this specific way will help get it to where you want it much faster.