Economically feasible methods to improve soil fertility and increase crop

Economically feasible methods to improve soil fertility and increase crop

Published in magazine “Saimnieks” , April 2019

University of Latvia, Department of Environmental Science, Faculty of Geography and Earth Sciences, Department of Environmental Protection. Chairman of the UL Senate

Dr.habil.chem. Prof. Maris Klavins

The term “humic substances” describes a wide range of substances, and the main thing that determines their properties and applications is the material from which the humic substances are derived. Humic substances can be extracted from soil, peat, compost, as well as from water as well as from fossil materials – coal and lignite. Differences in the properties of humic substances depending on their source have been studied and proven, but these differences are particularly significant when it comes to their use in agriculture. The origin of humic substances primarily affects their availability to plants, their ability to stimulate plant development and the presence of the trace elements necessary for their growth. Thus, there are huge differences between, for example, peat humic substances and lignite-derived humic substances. Unfortunately, brown coal humic substances, or substances extracted from burnt coal, is the product offered by manufacturers in China, Russia and other countries. Although visually similar to peat humic substances, their use can threaten with permanent effects on soil fertility.

Director of the Latvian Institute of Humic Substances, Product Quality Consultant at “Ražošanas Tehnoloģijas” Ltd. Olegs Kukainis

Soil mineralization, which is the result of irrational application of fertilizers, is now a major problem in improving the yield and quality of agricultural products. Therefore, the aim of the Latvian Institute of Humic Substances is to create economically viable and environmentally friendly fertilizers and their application methods.

The benefits of the spraying method are evident today. Therefore, most of our humic substances and microbiological products are intended for spray application. These include plant growth activators and regulators, as well as soil improvers and composters for straw and root residue treatment. We offer all of these products to consumers in 5-liter white plastic cans. These products are ideal for use in spraying equipment. For farmers with watering equipment we produce products in brown packaging – these humic substances are not so well purified that the product can be used in sprayers, but it is richer in organic matter and, importantly, 30-50% cheaper.

The basic ingredients for the manufacturing of products are humic substances (salts of humic acids), which are obtained by special technology and have a rich set of natural properties. When sprayed on leaves, they act as a growth promoter because they contain natural phytohormones and amino acids, they act as a catalyst for nutrient uptake and as a protective film when used in combination with pesticides. Once in the soil, humic substances act as a sorbent for minerals and trace elements, preventing them from leaching from the soil during rainy periods, and are also nutrients for soil microorganisms, without which fertile soil and strong plants are impossible.

There is a lot to write about the usefulness of humic substances, but the format of this article does not go into details, so read and use the information on our site as well as on other humic substances researchers and users.

We produce humic substances from two raw materials – peat and sapropel. This choice is due to the fact that peat and sapropel can produce more biologically active humic substances than those obtained from lignite. The producers of these humic substances (China, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Russia, etc.) usually point to abnormally high levels of humic substances in their product, although their application rate is 2 – 5 kg per hectare, which is several times higher than our 0.5 l / ha, and do not contain the soil micro-organisms necessary for the plants.

Last year, the Latvian Institute of Humic Substances developed and started production of a completely new product – granular humic substances with a natural content of trace elements and beneficial soil microorganisms – in cooperation with “Ražošanas Tehnoloģijas” Ltd. They are incorporated into the soil together with the seeds using the same sowing machine. This new technology allows the enhancement of a so-called rhizosphere around plant roots, which contains the trace elements available to the plant roots, and intensively develops microbiological processes that supply the plant with the nutrients it needs – fixation of nitrogen from the air, phosphorus in plant-available form etc.

Therefore, we want our farmers to use the most economically advantageous methods, using the fertilizers used for complete plant nutrition rather than contaminating water bodies and soil desalination. More organic matter, more humic matter, less plowing and soil damage with additional tractor rails.

We wish you good luck and rich harvest!

Leading researcher at the Latvian Institute of Humic Substances, Head of Science and Development, “Ražošanas Tehnoloģijas” Ltd.

Simona Larsson, PhD.

The latest trends in agriculture are the science of microbiology as a benefit of soil fertility and crop productivity. Assessment of soil biological activity allows to determine the influence of organic and mineral fertilizers on biological processes and intensity. Assessing the fertility of sustainable soils involves detecting changes in the relationship between different groups of microorganisms and their biological activity in the soil. The major part of soil fertility is made up of microorganisms, which are often defined in science as ‘microbiological activity’. According to many authors, enzyme efficacy is mainly determined by bacteria and actinomycetes.

The effect of fertilizers is short-lived because they first activate microorganisms that use readily available nutrients. Changes in the amount and activity of organic and humic substances are generally slower. One of the world’s leading soil scientists and an ardent promoter of organic farming, Elaine Ingham, PhD, has said that there is no such problem as a lack of soil fertility, but a lack of microorganisms in the soil because microorganisms are the ones that make up soil fertility.

Soil micro-organisms vary in relative proportions depending on the granulometric composition of the soil and other factors. Desired relative proportions of soil micro-organisms are: – aerobic bacteria 70%, – anaerobic bacteria 13%, – actinomycetes 13%, – fungi / molds 3%, – algae, protozoa, viruses 0.2 – 0.8%. The action of these microorganisms results in soil suitable for plant growth and development. The highest concentration of microorganisms is near the roots of plants – rhizosphere, about 2 mm around the roots. Products developed by the Latvian Institute of Humic Substances have been tested and species of microorganisms have been identified. Scientific research of various crops has been carried out for several years, and the studies confirm the beneficial effect of microorganisms on crop productivity.

It should be mentioned that humic substances obtained in Latvia from peat or sapropel are 3-4 times more biologically active than humic substances obtained from leonardite or lignite (fossilized peat). The age of humic substances extracted from fossil sediments (lignite, leonardite, coal) is estimated to be several million years, but humic substances in the water can be only a few hundred years. In Latvia, it is not possible to obtain peat and soil humic substances at such a considerable age. Therefore, it must be said that humic substances in Latvia are much more valuable because they contain several species of microorganisms, the interaction of which has a favorable effect on plant growth and development. By contrast, humic substances from fossil, millions of years old, sediments no longer contain all the microorganisms needed by plants and, in the long run, can have negative and lasting effects on soil fertility in agriculture. The humus substances from Latvian peat or sapropel are environmentally friendly and environmentally friendly.

Associative and antagonistic relations. The dependence of one micro-organism on another’s extracellular products such as amino acids and growth promoters may be considered as an association. It is known that plant growth hormones and similar substances are produced by several bacterial genera, i.e. Azotobacter, Arthrobacter, Pseudomonas and Agrobacterium commonly found in the rhizosphere.

Microorganisms affect root bud development and lateral root development. Fungi living on the root surface facilitate the absorption of nutrients through the roots.

Plant growth-promoting bacteria are a diverse group of bacteria that are capable of promoting the growth of many crops and increasing yields through a variety of mechanisms, including nitrogen fixation, phosphorus solubilization, abiotic stress reduction, quorum sensation (a process whereby bacteria interact to regulate bacterial community), biofilm formation, phytohormone production and antiparasitic activity. Scientists of the Latvian Institute of Humic Substances have isolated from the soil a “pearl” – plant growth hormone producer that, under appropriate conditions, releases phytohormones containing natural plant hormones, cytokinins and auxins, which are beneficial for plant growth. The plant growth regulator, at negligible concentrations, influences physiological processes and regulates the growth rate, the development of plant parts, the growth and maturation of fruits and seeds, and the aging of plants.

Chief agronomist of the Latvian Institute of Humic Substances, Commercial Director of “Ražošanas Tehnologijas” Ltd.

Agr. Vivita Viksnina

The last two years in agriculture have been difficult and drastically different. In one season the harvest was slackening and harvesting was difficult, but in the second season the drought prevented a good harvest. Each year, we were able to learn from the mistakes, become wiser for the future, and search for and find new solutions that reduce the risks of the weather and its impact on the planned harvest. By forming partnerships, cooperating, ensuring their fields, farmers can significantly reduce risks. However, this spring, I would like to draw the attention of farmers once again to smart farming using the methods and techniques known to us. Products made in Latvia – humic concentrates – can be used to reduce weather stress on crops.

Humic substances are a vehicle for efficient use of nutrients in the soil, and when calculating crop fertilizers, it should be borne in mind that combining fertilizers with humic substances can reduce the fertilizer dose by 20-30% per hectare, achieving the same productivity. The effectiveness of the pesticides used increases by up to 25%, which again results in money savings. Every farmer wants to cut costs and achieve higher yields not only this year but also next year. How to protect and improve the soil? We are always looking for new solutions to this issue, but today we can manage wisely and use sustainable farming methods with natural products made in Latvia: organic peat or sapropel compost promoters and soil improvers, humic concentrates containing live microorganisms.

Farmers most often use synthetic plant regulators to harvest crops and crop in the autumn, while Latvian scientists have an alternative and natural product registered as a microbiological product at the plant protection service. Yes, the product contains live microorganisms, but their excreted substance contained in the packaging of this product is a much cheaper and more effective plant regulator than synthetic plant regulators. The substance contains cytokinins and auxins, which are present in such concentration that the crops grown under Latvian conditions have a strong root system. By slowing down the apical motion, the crop creates shorter segments, thus protecting them from lodging, and promoting additional productive stems, up to 30% more. The grain is larger and the yield is 21% higher. The question is whether to spend money on synthetic plant growth regulators, or use a natural preparation that is produced here even in Latvia? Yes, and oilseed rape, which is grown in large areas of Latvian countryside, increases yields by up to 47% with the use of the natural microbiological preparation GreenCytokinin. How to apply, at what point and for how much? You can read more about it at or call and we will be happy to answer.

I wish the farmers – for the next seven years – good weather and a great harvest! See you at seminars and country days.