At this point, no scientists have been able to provide a descriptive and definitive molecular picture of humic substances. They are polydispersed polyanions and are supermixtures of many different acids containing carboxylate and phenolate groups and others, so that mixtures behave functionally as dibasic or tribasic acids. Humic acids can form complexes with ions that are commonly found in environments creating colloids. Research has shown carboxylate and phenolate group substituents link together for functionality. These delicate and relative ratios allow humic acids to form complexes with ions. Many humic acids have two or more of these groups arranged so as to enable formation of chelate complexes. The combination of these functional groups thus regulates bioavailability of metal ions.
The formation of humic substances is one of the least understood facets of humic sciences. There have been various theories posited on this matter (which I do not wish to delve into in great detail). If we had a clearer molecular picture, it would be much easier to infer what is occurring, and by extension the nature of these fascinating interactions. For example, if we knew urea, ammonium sulfate, calcium nitrate…. we would know their precise molecular makeup and be able to unlock their inherent mysteries.
Humic is a complex and fascinating creation. A plethora of unknown dynamics, such as chemical, biological, and bioorganic molecules, along with physical, biophysical, physiological, and other elements of combinatorial chemistry makes it difficult to make fair and clear judgments about interactions which are consistently occurring. It is long term combinatorial chemistry that creates these mysterious balances. To put this into perspective, God has endowed us all with five fingers. If we added one more, its impact would be difficult to assess. The same applies to the unique biosignature of humic chemistry. We cannot say how adding one thing or another is going to have a profound influence on these complex super mixtures and their unique web of interactions.
To give another example that illustrates these inherent mysteries, another component in humic chemistry is charged density. The molecules may form a supramolecular structure held together by a myriad of noncovalent forces. In a nutshell, there are major complexities that we cannot resolve by adding this and that such as enzymatic and autoxidation, peptides, amino acids, phenolic radicals, etc.
The best course of action is to do comparative work under controlled conditions in greenhouses and fields, assess plant performance, yield, and quality, allowing God’s unique creation to speak for itself. Some studies have been done to further identify these components, using various methods such as liquid chromatography and liquid-liquid extraction, which can be used to separate the components that comprise humic substances. The substances identified, according to some research, include mono, di, and tri-hydroxy acids, fatty acids, carboxylic acids, linear alcohols, phenolic acids, and terpenoids.
Humic substances are natural phenomena that have been developed in humic chemistry over lengthy periods of time. They reflect the mystery of the Lord’s intelligent and marvelous design. The proverbial proof is in the pudding. Again, with that in mind, the best course of action is to do comparative work under controlled conditions and allowing these plants to communicate these dynamic mysteries through their God-given metabolisms.