The Synergistic Effects of Humic Substances and Biofertilizers on Plant Development and Microbial Activity: A Review

Main Article Content

Jose Franco Da Cunha Leme Filho
Wade E. Thomason
Gregory K. Evanylo
Xunzhong Zhang
Michael S. Strickland
Bee K. Chim
Andre A. Diatta


Agroecosystem and ecological cycling loops are open when considering the reutilization of inputs applied in farming areas. Non-renewable resources have been transformed or relocated from the air, water and land into the system and are flowing out as wastes rather than reusable, recyclable resources. This current environmental situation is promoting the development of methods able to optimize nutrient cycling, minimize use of external inputs, and maximize input use efficiency. Some humic products are derived from lignin found in wheat straw and biofertilizers as compost and manure teas can be made using residues. Also, these biostimulants might decrease the necessity of synthetic inputs. This review strives to enhance our understanding of the conjunctive use of humic substances (HS) and biofertilizers. The biostimulant effects of each of these compounds are shown in the literature. Thus, our review question is whether the combined application of HS and biofertilizers can promote synergy between both compounds and potentially more efficacy. The effects promoted by using HS plus biofertilizers on plants and microorganisms are very interconnected, so sometimes these effects can be confounded. For instance, the root elongation promoted by HS might increase hyphal fungi colonization. Therefore, this review as divided in three sections: Responses of plants, fungi and bacteria. The findings indicate that the source and application rate of HS will have a strong impact on whether plant growth and microbial activity significantly improved. The microbial species and plant type also influence the response to HS. The prospects of the conjunctive use of and biofertilizers to stimulate plant development and microbial activity in agricultural systems are theoretically substantial when considering the total number of studies included in this review.

Biostimulants, humic acid, humate, plant growth, compost tea, manure tea.

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How to Cite
Filho, J. F. D. C. L., Thomason, W. E., Evanylo, G. K., Zhang, X., Strickland, M. S., Chim, B. K., & Diatta, A. A. (2020). The Synergistic Effects of Humic Substances and Biofertilizers on Plant Development and Microbial Activity: A Review. International Journal of Plant & Soil Science, 32(7), 56-75.
Review Article


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