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Bryant RedHawk

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since May 15, 2014
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Part Nakota, part Irish. The Nakota took over long ago but still lives in two worlds, the European world and the first people's world. He lives on a small (15 + acres) piece of mother earth deep in the woods. Was trained in the cooper's arts as a child, since the family owned a cooperage. He has been a carpenter, and timber wright but love all aspects of farming.He holds a BS in Chemistry and Biology and a MS in Horticulture. Worked for the USDA for 16 years. Currently working on his PHD in Microbiology, the thesis is plant communication through the micro-biosphere network. Redhawk and his wife Wolf are setting up to be fully self sustaining, growing all their own foods and collecting rain water. "Soon we will be self sustaining and closer to being off the grid" he said when asked about future plans. They continue their own research both in Agriculture and soils with the hope to make the world more like it used to be, before mankind began screwing up the Earth Mother. This is the only way humankind will survive, we must fix what we have broken.
Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Recent posts by Bryant RedHawk

Hau Robin, indeed we do know more now than we did when I started college in 1967. We know more today than we knew in 2000 and by the middle of 2020 we should have at least doubled our knowledge from 2000.
With so many people scrambling because of the global warming freak out, new studies are being published every month now when before it might have been every 6 months to a year between same subject papers.

Humus may or may not be considered food for microbiome and plants, that is one of the big questions right now.
We know for instance that humus will have many minerals and other nutrients but we don't know if these end up in plant roots without any middle men playing a role.
I suspect that the humus materials feed more microorganisms than it does plant life, but the experiments are still running so no solid data at this date, hopefully before Christmas we will have solid data and some conclusions.
We just have to wait and see how things develop (I helped design some of the experiments but I am not running the study), this study has involved more researchers than most of the work I done.

We also have around 20 masters students doing a lot of the "grunt" work, so it's a fun, exciting time.


When I get home (my farm) I'm going to do some changes to methodology being used.
3 days ago
The single largest problem with humus (and humic acid) is all the misinformation that is in circulation and part of that is calling things that are not humus or humic acid, humus or humic acids.
Organic matter in the soil is often called humus, but it is far closer to being compost rather than humus.
Many people are now selling organic materials and calling these materials humus, but what they are selling is more like compost.
This misidentification continues because "experts" continue to use the wrong terminology when they are talking about soils and how to improve those soils.

Humus is not something you can work into the soil, the very nature of humus is that of complete and total decay of organic matter, humus occurs only at the molecular level, so our eyes can't even detect it.
Humus, being molecular in nature means you would be hard pressed to hold any of the stuff in your hands since to find it you first have to locate organic matter that has been completely decayed, solid matter can not be humus because we can grab a hand full.
Compost is solid matter that is going through the process of decay, it is useable by humans because it has not finished the decay processes, once it does then it will be out of our sight and touch.
Humus can not come from coal because coal is plant material that became compost like and was then put under high pressure, which causes heating, and that turns it into coal eventually.
To think you could take coal and grind it up and get humus from that ground up material is showing lack of understanding what humus is.
Coal doesn't decay, if it did we would not be able to mine it and burn it as a fuel.
The deeper you look at everything represented as humus, the more you find that what ever is being called humus is most likely not humus but some form of organic matter.
Humus has been decomposed so much that it actually is no longer organic matter, it came from organic matter but since it has been broken down into molecules or atoms, it is no longer organic matter.
If you were to call humus "derived from organic matter" you would be closer to it's true identity.  

Plants and animals contain many of the same minerals and other nutrients (Like N,P,K as an example) we use most of those minerals and nutrients to build the cells and other stuff that make our bodies and fuel them.
Humus would be those minute pieces (minerals and nutrients) in the same forms that plant roots or animal digestive tracts take in so the organism will survive and grow or maintain the current structure.
Humus doesn't actually add "organic matter" to the soil, this is one of those misconceptions that has been bandied about for so long that many people say it as a fact, but it isn't. (sort of along the Urban legend type thing)

Humic acid is another item that has many misconceptions running around about it.
Humic acid doesn't stay humic acid, it gives up electrons quickly to become stable, but in doing this it no longer is an acid it becomes another molecule floating in the soil.
Humic acid is formed by rain water passing through humus, it takes on electrons from the humus molecules thus changing those molecules the water robs the electrons from.
Like Humus, Humic acid reacts rapidly once formed so it is here then not here, snap your fingers and you can get an idea of how long humic acid exists as humic acid.
It is the rapidity of change in these two substances that have made it so hard to study or even investigate, only recently have we come up with the right tools to be able to do proper study of the properties of these two keystone items of the soil.
(keystone items or beings are those that are so critical to the well being of the planet or ecosystem (soil is an ecosystem) that without them, the whole system falls apart).

Humans have a need to quantify everything which is probably one of the reasons there is so much wrong info floating around the different media, we have an innate need to be able to describe everything, it is what allows us to understand anything.
If we don't know the real facts of how something works we will either experiment to gain knowledge about that which we don't understand or we will invent what appears to be knowledge.
It is these human traits that push us forward in the quest for knowledge but these traits are also what lead us to make stuff up so we sound like we are knowledgeable.

If you want to find humus you have to look for it in a laboratory setting since out in nature it disappears almost as quickly as it forms.
This is because it can't exist until the organic matter that creates it has to be completely taken apart by the processes of decomposition, only then can humus come into being.
So as the last bits of say a tree limb that has a dead lizard gripping it disintegrate into those components that made up the solid parts of the limb, you see humus be created.
Once humus is created, it immediately binds with those molecules and atoms that make up the inorganic parts of soil at that instant, humus is gone.
We now have instruments that allow us to locate where the humus went and what it turned into and those instruments identify these substances as organic because they will contain the carbon atoms that were freed when the tree limb decayed away from the actions of bacteria and fungi.
This is why humus is such a mystery, it is still almost impossible to take any sample of soil and locate that substance known as humus (or humic acid since both seem to work in similar fashion).
However, if humus didn't exist, ever, then we would not have rich soil to grow plants in and those plants that did sprout would be lacking much of what makes them up.

Experiments have been done that were designed to locate, isolate and congeal into a solid, measurable form, the ions, minerals and elements that make up humus.
Most of these experiments have either failed from their design or the substance was found then it changed molecularly enough to not be the desired form humus any longer.
This is the type of investigation that creates bald scientists, they most likely pulled all their hair out from frustration.

3 days ago
hau Sahil, yes this is the time to get the winter greens into the ground (we are planting ours this weekend). It is also time to get the garlic and winter onions in the soil.
3 days ago
To repeat, Fulvic acids are rock mineral acids not organic acids. On that one point John Kempf is not correctly representing at least one of his companies products, according to your post S. Lowe.

As I have said many times, there is a lot of misinformation out there that is being believed which makes getting the correct information out there harder than it should be.
3 days ago
Rock on Jay, yep if there isn't a decay smell coming from the heap with added animals, you are in great shape. (get some plastic and sneak it under the heap around the edges at about week 3, any dark brownish liquid that comes out, that is humus in the raw form my friend)
4 days ago
the control panel thingy is up at the top of the page on the right hand side, there is also one labeled my profile.

You are almost in the same range as my farm so anytime you can build a heap, do it. I recon that we will get another warm spell before long and that will help kick start a compost heap.

If you have some milk, spoiled is best for this use, you can use about a cup (for a 4 x 4 x 4 foot heap) of milk to get some bacillus into the heap, that will get it going nicely.
If you also added some "bad" mushrooms or a mushroom slurry, that will give the exterior portion of the heap fungi which will kick start another portion of the heap, that usually is last to be decomposed (unless you were to turn the heap, which I don't do anymore).

Great to have you here Sahil, we have a great group of folks that can answer most questions posed.

4 days ago
Fulvic acids are acids which are created by the breakdown of rock minerals and remain soluble.

Humic acids are created by leaching rain water through the humus in a compost heap, it appears to go away quickly because it will bind with other organic materials or dirt particles almost as quickly as the humic acid forms and so don't remain soluble.

4 days ago
hau Sahil, where on planet earth are you located? Do you know your growing zone as defined by the USDA?

By going to your control panel you can place this sort of information under your name (take a look at mine to get the idea of what info is really good for potential answerers to have available to give good information)

Typically you can build a compost heap any time of year, if you do it when conditions are great for compost, it will sit there similar to how chickens lay an egg a day until they have a full clutch, then they activate the eggs by sitting on them so they will hatch all within hours of each other.

Give me some more info on your particular situation and location and I can and will give you specific ideas and suggestions.

4 days ago

Huxley Harter wrote:I used to think that humus was really nutrient rich organic matter that had no distinguishable plant or animal parts in it. Now it sounds like it's bare nutrients that haven't yet been taken up or secured by soil life.

Humus is organic material that has undergone complete decomposition, so complete that nothing of the original materials is distinguishable even under a microscope.
It is not "bare nutreints that haven't yet been taken up", it is a nutrient matrix that melds into the soil beneath. More specifically it is a nutrient matrix being re-used by new plants (circle of life).

Humus is how nature recycles plant and animal parts that have died and then fed the trillions of bacteria, fungi and all the other microorganisms of soil.
The nutrients could perhaps be construed as bare but they have been used to build plant parts and animal parts that are alive then died and are being recycled yet again.
However, grabbing a hand full is almost impossible since as it forms it melds into the soil it touches, virtually disappearing almost as soon as it forms.
Humic acid is even more fleeting in separate existence since it is liquid it seeps into the soil where it binds to particles of soil as soon as it touches them and this is such a complete binding you can't locate it except through chemical testing.
4 days ago

Elizabeth Geller wrote:

Bryant RedHawk wrote:
I would not know what anyone selling "Humic Acid" is actually marketing.

Here's the description from the Down to Earth brand:  Down To Earth™ Granular Humic Acids is a highly concentrated source of humic substances that is ideal for use on fields, turf and vegetable gardens. Carefully mined from one of the world’s richest deposits, DTE™ Granular Humic Acids is derived from the ancient remains of decomposed organic plant materials. Naturally occurring, unaltered oxidized lignite, DTE™ Granular Humic Acids are crushed, screened and graded to a particle size of 1-3mm."

I have no idea what any of that actually means, but there you go.

OK, so they are spreading misinformation out of the greed factor yes? humic substances would be very um, controversial in the biology/ microbiology world as well as in the Agronomy world. Notice they think there are deposits of something that has been found to infiltrate soil so well that you can't separate it from the soil particles. Then they say "ancient remains of decomposed organic plant materials" which does not fit any definition of humus or humic acid. Then they admit that they are selling ground up lignite not humus or humic anything.

So, I am going to call BUNK! on them. You will not ever find any "ancient" humus, it is impossible to do since it incorporates so completely with soil that you can't separate it and it would have been used up by plants anyway.

Redhawk  (PS, what that means is that they are selling you a "bill of goods" not selling real humus or humic acid)
4 days ago