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Soil pH - Humic vs Iron vs Lime

Posted by Nate Bahler on Jan 5, 2022 11:36:10 AM
Nate Bahler

It can be confusing when you see a bag of fertilizer with all sorts of numbers and letters and instructions on it, right? 

Many people are familiar with your typical NPK fertilizer macronutrients - Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium, but there are other common industry micronutrients and supplements that you might not be as familiar with.  

Humic acid or fulvic acid, iron and lime are 3 typical fertilizer add-ons that can take your lawn care program to the next level.  We'll break these three supplements down for you. 

What is Humic Acid?

Humic acid is a natural supplement that treats your soil by allowing the already available nutrients in your soil to be accessed by plants. This essentially allows your plants to do less work to get the nutrients they need. 

Humic acid is comprised of liquid peat that is derived from peat bogs.  It does not fall under the micronutrient or macro nutrient category but is considered a supplement. 

Humic Acid can be used with a starter fertilizer or can be used with a fall fertilizer application.  

What are the benefits of Humic Acid? 

  • Allows soil to hold more moisture. 
  • Increases soil fertility. 
  • Increases plant nutrient uptake.
  • Humic Acid serves as a food source for microbes in the soil.  As these microbes feed on Humic Acid, they release nutrients that become available to grass roots. 

Humic Acid and Lawn Diseases: 

Believe it or not - Humic Acid as a supplement in lawns can actually help reduce lawn disease pressure.

By making all sorts of micronutrients plant available in the soil, we are allowing the plant to have whichever nutrient it needs right in that moment.  If it needs magnesium, it can have it.  If it needs calcium, it can have it. 

This makes for a healthier and stronger plant that can be more resistant to disease pressure. 

Do I need Lime for Healthy Soil?

Lime is a micro nutrient required for soil structure. It's the one micro nutrient that is essential to soil health but is not included in a typical N/P/K fertilizer bag.  

In New England, we tend to have a lower soil pH. Lime increases pH and improves nutrient availability. In acidic soil, many nutrients are inaccessible.

Lime conditions your soil and increases calcium levels. Calcium is essential to cell wall division which contributes to every aspect of plant growth. 

Does Iron Benefit My Lawn?

The benefits of iron were born in the golf industry to aid in turning lawns more green.  In the golf industry, it had a place as a sprayable application that acted as a topical "stain" for grass plants to give it a greener appearance. 

Lawn care companies work with products in a granular form.  Iron in a granular form - it doesn't work in the same way as a spray.  The plant cannot access iron through its roots.

While granular iron as a supplement can still be useful for lawns that have an iron deficiency, it is very very rare to find iron deficient lawns in New England. 

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