Originating from the word fulvus (Latin for yellow), fulvic acid is named for its natural golden honey color. Fulvic acid is a natural acidic organic polymer. This means that it is not a single molecule, but rather a combination of many different molecules with similar chemical properties.
Fulvic acids, along with humic acids, are compounds found in humus— organic material that was metabolized by fungi and microorganisms over millions of years—and are some of the most biologically rich substances available. Thanks to its molecular structure, fulvic acid has specific advantages over other humic substances.
In order to isolate fulvic acid, it must undergo an additional extraction process using either acid or cold purified water to separate it from humic acid. (For best results in the garden, use only high-grade, non-chemical, cold-water extracted fulvic acid.)
Humic substances, such as fulvic and humic acid, commonly used in hydroponic and horticultural applications are sourced from areas rich with deposits known as humates. These humates include materials like peat moss, lignite, Leonardite and humic shale, and they are found in areas rich with mineraloid deposits, such as aquatic ecosystems, bogs, marshes and dry lakebeds.
The quality of the products is directly related to the source of the humates from which they were derived. Fulvic acids extracted from Leonardite prove to be the best quality products on the market due to their high percentage of fulvic content.
While fulvic acid is often recognized as an ingredient in several horticultural products, many people might not realize what specific features and benefits this powerful supplement has to offer. The simple incorporation of fulvic acid into an existing nutrient schedule promotes a noticeable difference in the health, vitality and overall productivity of indoor and outdoor gardens.
One of the most important features that fulvic acid offers the horticulture industry is its natural ability to chelate nutrients. The word chelate is derived from the Greek word chele, which literally means claw. Fulvic acid acts like a claw to bond with macro- and micronutrients that might otherwise be inaccessible to the plant.
Without the help of the fulvic acid, many of the larger molecules that are unable to permeate cell walls would not make it into the plant and get washed away in runoff water. However, once minerals fuse with the fulvic acid, they become bioactive and chemically available to the plant where they are needed most.
This is because fulvic acid—due to its low molecular weight—can easily penetrate the cell walls of plant tissue, allowing the larger nutrient molecules to piggyback their way into the plant. Once the chelated minerals are inside the plant, the fulvic acid acts as a delivery system to transport the nutrients to the parts of the plant where they will serve the best functions.
The increased uptake of nutrients with the help of fulvic acid maximizes the efficiency of the nutrients in any synthetic or organic fertilizer (amazingly, one fulvic acid molecule has the capacity to transport dozens upon dozen of minerals into the cells of a plant).
It naturally increases the plant’s metabolism and increases enzymatic activity, making food more available to satiate the plant’s growing appetite. Furthermore, it helps the plant retain and fully utilize nutrients. This heightened efficiency results in fewer nutrients needed over time, which saves money for gardeners!
Fulvic acid can be used indoor or outdoor in soil or hydroponic systems, and is completely safe for organic gardeners. It can be added to a nutrient solution and watered in as a root drench, or it can be applied as a foliar feed.
Fulvic acid also contains over 70 nourishing trace minerals and when mixed with water, these vital trace elements and minerals become readily available to the plant. When used as a root drench in soil gardens, fulvic acid helps improve soil structure by delivering macro- and micronutrients directly to the root zone, encouraging healthy growth.
If used as a foliar spray, fulvic acid will increase the amount of internodes or bud sites on a flowering plant. It also promotes sturdy stalks and stems while correcting minor deficiencies that might be present within the plant.
Another benefit of fulvic acid is that it increases drought tolerance in plants. By increasing the permeability of the cell walls in plant matter, fulvic acid allows for plants to intake more water. With the heightened capacity to retain water, plants stay quenched for longer periods of time. This drought tolerance and water retention aid in monetary, as well as resource, savings. Also, hydrated plants are happy plants.
As if that is not enough, the list of functions that fulvic acid performs goes on. It acts as a highly effective natural immunity booster for plants. By infusing plants with an abundance of minerals and trace elements, fulvic acid helps to boost their resistance to a host of environmental problems, such as disease, mold, fungi and insect infestation.
Fulvic acid also works as a natural detoxifier and protective agent. It removes toxicity from poisonous herbicides and pesticides from the plant’s system. It acts as a natural antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals by scavenging for unpaired positive or negative electrons and supplying them with an opposite charge.
Fulvic acid is also an excellent pH buffer that will slightly lower pH, help to stabilize drastic fluctuations and retain a steady pH balance. This is important because plants rely on a specific pH range to make use of vital nutrients.
If the pH solution of a nutrient mix is too low, or acidic, certain macro- and micronutrients are rendered useless to a plant and it might become deficient in those minerals. If the pH level of the feed solution is too high, or alkaline, the mixture could potentially burn plants. An ideal pH range for most plants lies within the range of 5.5 to 6.5.
Simple, yet complex, the myriad functions of fulvic acid is astounding. In prehistoric times on Earth, the planet was rich with humic substances and fulvic acid was abundant in the natural environment.
Dinosaurs roamed the land and lush verdant plants grew to gargantuan sizes. Environmental conditions were prime for oversized life forms. Through evolution, these legendary giant species of plants and animals have gone extinct, but they left their biologically rich remains locked within geological burial grounds.
Over the millennia, they have become the raw materials of the fulvic acid we rely on and utilize in our modern gardens. Although plants no longer grow to the mammoth proportions that they reached 65 million years ago, growers, gardeners and green thumbs worldwide can mimic what Mother Nature perfected in ancient times.
By supplementing a normal nutrient regimen with fulvic acid, farmers can increase the fertility of their crops and encourage bountiful harvests that yield fruits and veggies rich with nutritional sustenance. For yields that are worth their weight in gold, try fulvic acid—a golden opportunity for your garden.