Humic substances are the naturally occurring biogenic, heterogeneous organic compounds resulting from the decomposition of plant, animal and microbial residues, over many thousands of years. Research into humic substances have found them to be beneficial not only for crop production, but for human and animal health also. Humic substances influence crop yields by affecting soil texture, water retention, nutrient buffering capacity and microbial diversity. Their stimulatory effects on plant growth and physiology can be ascribed to enhanced nutrient uptake, hormonal activity with root growth and proliferation, activation of antioxidant defense under various abiotic stresses. Furthermore, their potential to remove toxic pollutants from soil as well as aquatic systems might resolve the problem of degrading environment. Positive effects of humic substance on soil as well as crop without harming the environment make humic acid a sustainable solution for crop production. The antioxidant, immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory, detoxifying and nutritional properties of humic substances opens up new avenues for their medical applications. Still, more research is needed to completely explore their potential. This chapter will summarize and review information about the prospects of using humic substances in agriculture and medicine.
Part of the book: Humic Substances