Editor’s note: The June issue of Superintendent magazine features a special supplement on golf and sustainability. We were fortunate to have several advertisers/sponsors involved in the supplement to make it possible and to help educate superintendents about sustainability. We asked the sponsors to share their philosophies about sustainability as it pertains to their products. It’s clear these companies take sustainability very seriously and are committed to its economic, environmental and social components. While their stories appeared in the June issue, we’re also sharing them in this newsletter. Today, a look at Humate International.

For more than 25 years, Brian Galbraith has hung his hat on the phrase “feeding the soil” when it comes to achieving healthy turfgrass. Galbraith, president of Jacksonville, Florida-based Humate International, isn’t going to change his beliefs now. In fact, they’re stronger than ever.

“If you can get your soil healthy, you’re going to grow healthy plants that are resistant to disease and even insects,” Galbraith says.

Products that can do that are called “sustainable.” Galbraith’s company sells liquid- and granular-based humate products based upon a relatively young, high-energy humate extracted from the Florida soil. They are not refined, but are left in their natural form to bring a broad base of macronutrients, micronutrients, trace minerals and microbial support materials to the soil system. Hence, “feeding the soil.” Humate International also sells microbial inoculants and support materials as well as fertilizers and specialty products built on humate.

Humates shouldn’t be looked at as an additional expense, Galbraith says. “Our humate can help superintendents cut back on inputs and save them money,” he adds.

Galbraith says his business is adding customers all the time. But many superintendents are in a mode to save money.

“What we’re finding with superintendents is that, because of the economic pressures put on them over the past four years, they’re doing everything they can to reduce the amount of products they’re purchasing,” he explains.

That’s when Galbraith reminds them of the importance of feeding the soil. When the soil is abundant in a high-energy organic such as humates, and contains a balanced microbial population for the company’s humates to work with, then the chemistry in the soil becomes more efficient, leading to healthier turf, he tells them.

Investing in humates costs money, but Galbraith insists that superintendents will see a return on investment in the long run when they save on other inputs, fertilizer, fungicides, and even water.

It’s not lost on Galbraith that more industry companies are using humates in their products thanks to the advent of sustainability, not to mention the data supporting that humates have a solid place in today’s world of golf course maintenance.

“We introduced this concept of applying microbes to the golf course market many years ago,” says Galbraith, who started his company in 1988. “It has been a tough slog. But when you have more companies talking about introducing microbes to the soil, [the concept] gains more credibility, which helps the whole market.”