Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: October 9, 2012
Publication Date: February 4, 2013
Citation: Mao, J., Olk, D.C., Na, C., Dinnes, D.L., Chappell, M. 2013. Chemical properties of humic and fulvic acid products and their ores of origin. In: Xu, J., Wu, J., and He, Z., editors. Functions of natural organic matter in a changing environment. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer. p. 1067-1070. Technical Abstract: Commercial products consisting of humic and fulvic acids are thought to boost plant growth and economic yield in cropland agriculture. The specific mechanism for their benefit is unknown, in part because little information is available on the chemical nature of these products. We examined the chemical nature of eight humic acid products, three fulvic acids, and seven of their source materials, lignite and leonardite ores and humic shales. All samples were from the United States and Canada. Analysis by 13C cross polarization/magic angle spinning nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy found that the humic acid products and the ores were dominated by large signals at aliphatic C (ca. 30 ppm) and aromatic C (ca. 130 ppm). These products were distinguished from one another by their relative proportions of aromatics and aliphatics and relative percentages of smaller signals for carboxyl C (approximately 175 ppm) and ketones/aldehydes C (ca. 200 ppm). These samples were also analyzed for their concentrations of seven carbohydrates and 19 amino acids through anion exchange chromatography and pulsed amperometric detection. All ores and humic acid products had extremely low concentrations of carbohydrates and amino acids. Although these products share the same dominant chemical traits, they cannot be considered as chemically similar until the chemical mechanism for their effect on plant growth is identified and the corresponding compound(s) or functional group(s) is/are measured in these products and ores. Until then, field efficacy established for one product cannot be transferred to other products.