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    Humic substances (HSs) are chromogenic organic assemblies that are widespread in the environment, including soils, oceans, rivers, and coal-related resources. HSs are known to directly and indirectly stimulate plants based on their versatile organic structures. Their beneficial activities have led to the rapid market growth of agronomical HSs. However, there are still several technical issues and concerns to be addressed to advance sustainable agronomical practices for HSs and allow growers to use HSs reliably. First, it is necessary to elucidate the evident structure (component)-function relationship of HSs. Specifically, the core structural features of HSs corresponding to crop species, treatment method (i.e., soil, foliar, or immersion applications), and soil type-dependent plant stimulatory actions as well as specific plant responses (e.g., root genesis and stress resistance) should be detailed to identify practical crop treatment methodologies. These trials must then be accompanied by means to upgrade crop marketability to help the growers. Second, structural differences of HSs depending on extraction sources should be compared to develop quality control and assurance measures for agronomical uses of HSs. In particular, coal-related HSs obtainable in bulk amounts for large farmland applications should be structurally and functionally distinguishable from other natural HSs. The diversity of organic structures and components in coal-based HSs must thus be examined thoroughly to provide practical information to growers. Overall, there is a consensus amongst researchers that HSs have the potential to enhance soil quality and crop productivity, but appropriate research directions should be explored for growers' needs and farmland applications.


    Heejung Jung, Sumin Kwon, Jae-Hwan Kim, Jong-Rok Jeon. Which Traits of Humic Substances Are Investigated to Improve Their Agronomical Value? Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). 2021 Feb 02;26(3)

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    PMID: 33540638

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