Leonardites are organic materials that have not reached the coal stage yet. They differ from lignite by its higher degree of oxidation in the coalification process (moor > peat > coal), a higher humic acid content and a higher number of carboxyl groups.
Commercial production of Leonardite has dramatically increased since the discovery of high levels of humic acid in the lignite coal bed. Leonardites are the result of a humification process that lasted up to 70 million years. Unlike other organic sources of humic acid, Leonardites are highly bioactive due to their molecular structure – up to five times more than common humus components. Thus, one kilogram of Leonardite corresponds to about five kilograms of other organic humic acid sources. Leonardite is not a fertilizer. It acts as soil conditioner, biocatalyst and biostimulant for plants. In comparison to other organic products, Leonardite particularly promotes plant growth (biomass production) and soil fertility.
Another advantage of Leonardite is its long-term effect. It is degraded more slowly than, for example, manure, compost or peat, because it contains more organic matter that is also more resistant to decomposers.