Leonardites Rich in Humic and Fulvic Acids Had Little Effect on Tissue Elemental Composition and Dry Matter Yield in Pot-Grown Olive Cuttings uri icon


  • The use of humic substances in agriculture has increased in recent years, and leonardite has been an important raw material in the manufacture of commercial products rich in humic and fulvic acids. Leonardite-based products have been used to improve soil properties and to help plants cope with abiotic and biotic stresses. In this study, the effects of two commercial leonardites and an organic compost, in addition to a control treatment, were assessed for pot-grown olive plants over a period of fourteen months on soil properties, tissue elemental composition and dry matter yield (DMY). Three organic amendments were applied at single and double rates of that set by the manufacturer. The study was arranged in two experiments: one containing the seven treatments mentioned above and the other containing the same treatments supplemented with mineral nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) fertilization. Overall, organic compost increased soil organic carbon by ~8% over the control. In the experiment without NPK supplementation, N concentrations in shoots and P in roots were the highest for the compost application (leaf N 12% and root P 32% higher than in the control), while in the experiment with NPK supplementation, no significant differences were observed between treatments. Total DMY was ~10% higher in the set of treatments with NPK in comparison to treatments without NPK. Leonardites did not affect significantly any measured variables in comparison to the control. In this study, a good management of the majority of environmental variables affecting plant growth may have reduced the possibility of obtaining a positive effect on plant nutritional status and growth from the use of commercial leonardites. The leonardites seemed to have caused a slight effect on biological N immobilization. This is not necessarily an advantage or a drawback; it is rather a feature that must be understood to help farmers make better use of these products.
  • This research was funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT, Portugal) and FEDER under Programme PT2020 for financial support to CIMO (UIDB/00690/2020). The research was integrated in the activities of the operational group “Novas práticas em olivais de sequeiro: estratégias de mitigação e adaptação às alterações climáticas”, funded by PT2020 and EAFRD (European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development).

publication date

  • January 2022