Humic Acid

MY BIOGRAPHY

I attended Lilydale High School in Melbourne, Victoria (Australia) and graduated from the University of Melbourne, majoring in Chemistry and also with studies in Mathematics and Physics. However, rather than pursue PhD studies for which my undergraduate course was designed, I opted to work in various fields to obtain a broader knowledge base. I have worked in private industry, government research, and teaching. I now live near Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. I have travelled extensively within Australia and overseas for discussions, lectures, and conferences. The main fields that I have worked in include:

  • Electrochemistry
  • Pharmaceutical R&D
  • Nutrient Recycling at Coral Reefs
  • HPLC/ GC-MS/ NMR/ FT-IR/ FT-MS
  • Humic Acids
  • Climate Change
  • Chemistry and Mathematics Teaching

I began researching humic acids in 1986, and largely completed the basic research by 1996. This was part of a project to identify and quantify fluorescent bands in coral skeletons. These bands led to the hind-casting of rainfall levels in tropical areas (such as Northern Queensland) where tree-ring analysis has little potential. For further information refer to my biography in Who’s Who in the World (Marquis, New York, USA, 1995-), and in Who’s Who in Science and Engineering (Marquis, New York, USA, 1995/6-).

My 6 most important publications are:

Klein, R., Loya, Y., Gvirtzman, G., Isdale, P.J. & Susic, M.Seasonal rainfall in the Sinai Desert during the Late Quaternary inferred from fluorescent bands in fossil corals. Nature, 345, 145-147 (1990), plus cover photo and article.

Susic, M. Replenishing humic acids in agricultural soils. Agronomy 2016, 6, 45; doi:10.3390/agronomy6040045. (available on the Internet at this site)

Susic, M. & Alongi, D.M. Determination of terrestrial markers in marine environments by gas chromatography–mass-selective detection compared to high-performance liquid chromatography-fluorescence detection. Journal of Chromatography A, 758, 243-254 (1997).

Susic, M. & Boto, K.G. High-performance liquid chromatography determination of humic acids in environmental samples at the nano-gram level using fluorescence detection. Journal of Chromatography, 502, 443-446 (1990).

Susic, M., Boto, K.G. & Isdale, P.J. Fluorescent coral skeletal bands result from terrestrial runoff. Marine Chemistry, 33, 91-104 (1991).

Susic, M. & Isdale, P. A model for humic acid carbon export from a tropical river system using coral skeletal fluorescence data. In Hydraulic and Environmental Modelling of Coastal, Estuarine and River Waters (ed. Falconer, R.A.,Goodwin, P. & Matthews, R.G.S.), PP. 588-597 (Gower, Aldershot, UK, 1989).

MY PHOTO OF MYSELF SIGHTSEEING IN BOGOTA, COLOMBIA


DINING OUT WITH MY WIFE ISABEL IN BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA


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15 Comments »

  1. excellent…. so professional…
    I produce humic acid , based in Indonesia use lignite for raw material extracted with alkaline condition.
    Your research is important for Indonesian Agro-industry and plantation.
    Thanks a lot Sir..

    Comment by humateposphat — 2009 @ 7:23 pm

  2. Mike:

    My compliments for your thorough knowledge on humic acids. Your article “A history of humic acid research” was very nice and informative, not biased, treating all in humic acid research fairly.

    Comment by Dr. Kim H. Tan — 2009 @ 2:06 am

    • Hello Kim

      I am very happy to hear from you again and I hope that all is well with you. I would like to give you some background information regarding my humic acid research. I have not been involved in this now for about 10 years or so, but at present I have the opportunity to do a small amount of work. I am extracting quite large amounts of humic acids from dry plant material and hope to make this information known later this year or next year under the title: “The Critical Experiment That Was Never Done.” I want to elaborate on our previous work where we showed that humic acids are formed in senescent plant matter well before this gets into the soil or near microorganisms.

      When I first began humic acid research in 1986 as an organic analytical chemist I was quite excited as it was part of a large project looking at fluorescent banding in corals which is now routinely used for rainfall reconstruction and climate work. However, my excitement soon turned to disappointment as I researched the literature. The limited literature that I consulted was very inconsistent and confusing, and then I came across the then recent 1985 paper by Farmer and Pisaniello, which made me realise that I would have to start from the beginning to make any headway. I had a great librarian (Ms Inara Bush) and I must give her much of the credit for going back in history and finding all sorts of obsure manuscripts and reports. One must remember that this was in the late 1980s and early 1990s when the Internet was only beginning and it was much more difficult than today to locate information. For example, she found the first report of humic acid extraction (by Achard) in the Natural History Museum, London, but they were reluctant to try to photocopy the article because of the age of the document. She somehow managed to convince them to do it! The University of Queensland and the State Library of Victoria also provided many articles, and my ability to read some German, even some of the old style writing, was extremely useful. Another set of articles about fumaric, maleic and 4-oxo-2-butenoic acids, which were key papers describing the conversion of furfural into these acids, were in Spanish. Since I can also read some Spanish (but no more languages) I was very lucky.

      After receiving hundreds of manuscripts and reports dating back to 1786 I decided that I could achieve something useful by deciding for myself what was more correct and what was less correct. The papers that inspired me were the one by Shapiro from 1957 and the one mentioned above by Farmer and Pisaniello. Especially the paper by Shapiro made me realise that I should work with organic solvents, so my main tool became solution FTIR because by default almost nothing else worked. Of course, I now also had a treasure of knowledge about the history of humic acid research and felt compelled to share it so that past errors did not have to be repeated. However, another disappointment has been the reluctance of long-time workers in the humic acid field from accepting the discoveries that I made. I have contacted most of the office-bearers worldwide from the IHSS, but with little response. Some of this lack of acceptance is understandable since few soil scientists would understand the complex organic chemistry involved, but on the whole, we need a new generation of researchers to forget the old dogmas and take a new approach. I am happy that in your recent book you have taken a much more enlightened view of the humic acid saga, and I know first hand that it has enlightened researchers in the field.

      Many regards

      Michael

      Comment by humicacid — 2009 @ 11:46 am

  3. Dear Mike,
    I am doing some research for a feasibility study in manufacturing humic acid and related fertilizers
    to be used in general agriculture.
    recently I am using some of humic acid on our agriculture sites which has significant result after
    improving cathionic exchange capacity.
    would like to have a chat with you.

    cheers
    iwan gunawan
    based in western australia
    email : iwangun@gmail.com

    Comment by iwan gunawan — 2009 @ 4:56 pm

  4. Sir, HA prepared in Trituration (hand grinding mortor) method is possible?
    so many metals are prepared in Homeopathy.

    Comment by Thiyagaraj — 2009 @ 2:15 am

    • Hello Thiyagaraj

      Could you please give me more information about what you want to do or prepare.

      Regards

      Michael

      Comment by humicacid — 2009 @ 11:45 am

  5. Dear Sir,

    I am in Larsen & Toubro. i want to know the methods to prepare humic acid from legnite. kindly send the possible methods if u have please send it to jeeva012@gmail.com.

    With lot of thanks

    Jeevananth

    Comment by jeevananth — 2009 @ 9:49 pm

    • Hello Jeevananth

      I recently sent a reply on how to extract humic acids from plant matter. It is exactly the same for lignite, and I have copied the reply here:
      “Any brown senescent plant matter contains quite large amounts of humic acids that can be extracted with NaOH or KOH. However, not all is extractable because some is strongly bound to proteins or other matter.

      Soak the plant matter at least 24 hr (better 2-3 days) in 0.1 M NaOH or KOH and agitate if possible several times. Take off the solution, wash the plant matter with some water, and collect this also. Filter the solution or remove all particulate matter in some other way. Add concentrated hydrochloric or sulfuric acid very slowly (dangerous reaction!) with agitation until the pH is ~1. Filter or collect the precipitate in some other way, then wash and dry (either oven or air dry). This material is humic acid and is reasonably pure. It can be further purified by dissolving in 0.1 M NaOH or KOH and precipitating again. The solid humic acid can be redissolved in 10% KOH for agricultural use to give soluble potassium humate. The amounts are such that the final product has a pH of 10-11, and this will need to be done by trial and error. The product can be used in solution or dried. Both the solution and the dried product will contain some unreacted potassium hydroxide that on prolonged standing will react with carbon dioxide from the air to form potassium carbonate instead of hydroxide, but this is not a problem.

      I recently performed fluorescence spectra on plant-derived and leonardite humic acids which I have not yet put on the website, and the spectra were almost identical, which means that the humic acids from these sources are almost identical.”

      Regards

      Michael

      Comment by humicacid — 2009 @ 1:47 pm

  6. I am very interested in research on humic acid, hope we can interact more.

    Comment by Xiao — 2009 @ 1:13 pm

    • Hello Xiao

      I look forward to your comments.

      Regards

      Michael

      Comment by humicacid — 2009 @ 6:26 pm

  7. Hello Tapu

    This is a reply I gave recently for plant matter, and it applies to low rank coal, and potassium carbonate can be substituted for potassium hydroxide: Any brown senescent plant matter contains quite large amounts of humic acids that can be extracted with NaOH or KOH. However, not all is extractable because some is strongly bound to proteins or other matter.

    Soak the plant matter at least 24 hr (better 2-3 days) in 0.1 M NaOH or KOH and agitate if possible several times. Take off the solution, wash the plant matter with some water, and collect this also. Filter the solution or remove all particulate matter in some other way. Add concentrated hydrochloric or sulfuric acid very slowly (dangerous reaction!) with agitation until the pH is ~1. Filter or collect the precipitate in some other way, then wash and dry (either oven or air dry). This material is humic acid and is reasonably pure. It can be further purified by dissolving in 0.1 M NaOH or KOH and precipitating again. The solid humic acid can be redissolved in 10% KOH for agricultural use to give soluble potassium humate. The amounts are such that the final product has a pH of 10-11, and this will need to be done by trial and error. The product can be used in solution or dried. Both the solution and the dried product will contain some unreacted potassium hydroxide that on prolonged standing will react with carbon dioxide from the air to form potassium carbonate instead of hydroxide, but this is not a problem.

    Regards

    Michael

    Comment by humicacid — 2009 @ 11:35 am

  8. Hi sir,

    Im from chile, im extracting with KOH from cow and goat manure, now I pretend to use vermicompost,
    Is it good material for agricultural extraction?

    Comment by Dante — 2009 @ 1:45 am

    • Hello Dante

      Vermicompost is excellent for extracting humic acids.

      Regards

      Michael

      Comment by humicacid — 2009 @ 4:34 pm

  9. Friend can we add chelated micro nutrients to humic acid and market it ?
    Pl provide help

    Comment by Rajan — 2009 @ 10:23 am

    • Hello Rajan

      You can add chelated micronutrients to humic acid and market the product. Natural products such as fulvic acid, humic acid and amino acids have weak chelating power, so you could dissolve the micronutrients in water and spray onto the humic acid in a fine mist. This would give a weak chelated product. Alternatively, you could purchase the EDTA-chelated (or similar products) and add them to the humic acid.

      To market the products responsibly and ethically you would need to conduct crop trials to test if the micronutrients are adsorbed (leave analysis) and if there is a cost reduction benefit for the crop.

      Note that there are many wild claims for the efficacy of humic acid products and potential customers have a right to be sceptical regarding any claims that you make, so the marketing process could be much more difficult than the manufacturing process.

      Regards
      Michael

      Comment by humicacid — 2009 @ 9:40 am


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