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Characterization of commercial humic acid samples and their impact on growth of fungi and plants

Author(s): Asma Lodhi, Shermeen Tahir, Zafar Iqbal, Ansar Mahmood, Muhammad Akhtar, Tariq Mahmood Qureshi, Muhammad Yaqub and Asif Naeem

Journal: Soil & Environment
ISSN 2074-9546

Volume: 32;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 63;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: Humic acid | optical density | Fungi | plant growth

Naturally occurring humates like leonardite and brown coal or lignite are marketed under different brand names e.g. Pak Humates, Humate Fertilizer, Pak Humax, Humkara and Humide etc. However, their efficacy is needed to be confirmed before their use. Different studies were conducted for the comparison of four commercial humates for their physico-chemical, optical properties, plant growth promoting ability in terms of seed germination and seedling vigour in wheat (cv Sehr), mung bean (Mung-54), maize (C-12) and sesbania and their effect on growth of some fungi. Moisture content of four humates varied from 0.52 to 71.11%, while solubility in water varied from 30.2 to 98.2% and density differed from 1.67 to 4.17. A 2% solution of humates had pH and EC varying from 5.39 to 10.11 and 3.140 to 1.143 mS cm-1, respectively. Carbon and nitrogen concentrations varied from 22.95 to 36.56% and 0.658 to 1.183, respectively with a C/N ratio of 30.91 to 44.16. Humates dissolved in 0.1N NaOH were partitioned into humic acid and fulvic acid fractions. Of the total C in humates, 40.3 to 77.5% was ranged in humic acid and 22.5 to 59.7% in fulvic acid fraction. The HA was also studied for optical properties at 400, 500, 600, and 700 nm besides that at 465 and 665 to calculate E4/E6 (extinction coefficient); the later varied between 3.64 and 5.48. Optical density of the humic acid decreased at increasing wavelength and was correlated significantly with the carbon contents of humic compounds. Three fungi, Trichoderma harzianum, T. hamatum and Alternaria alternata showed maximum growth at 0.025% HA in the growth medium on the basis of colony diameter. Humates inhibited seed germination in wheat, maize and mung bean except for sesbania. Root length and shoot dry matter increased in wheat and maize but no effect was found in mung bean and sesbania. The studies revealed that humates available in the market vary widely and therefore some sort of quality monitoring is required for the benefit of end users.
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