What Is Bat Guano and What Are It's Uses

Wikepedia states: The word "guano" originates from the Andean indigenous language Quechua, which refers to any form of dung used as an agricultural fertilizer. Archaeological evidence suggests that Andean people have collected guano from small islands and points located off the desert coast of Peru for use as a soil amendment for well over 1,500 years. Spanish colonial documents suggest that the rulers of the Inca Empire assigned great value to guano, restricted access to it, and punished any disturbance of the birds with death. The Guanay cormorant has historically been the most abundant and important producer of guano. Other important guano producing species off the coast of Peru are the Peruvian pelican and the Peruvian booby.[1][6]

In November 1802, Alexander von Humboldt was the first European to encounter guano and began investigating its fertilizing properties at Callao in Peru, and his subsequent writings on this topic made the subject well known in Europe. During the guano boom of the nineteenth century, the vast majority of seabird guano was harvested from Peruvian guano islands, but large quantities were also exported from the Caribbean, atolls in the Central Pacific, and islands off the coast of Namibia, Oman, Patagonia, and Baja California. At that time, massive deposits of guano existed on some islands, in some cases more than 50 m deep.[7] In this context the United States passed the Guano Islands Act in 1856, which gave U.S. citizens discovering a source of guano on an unclaimed island exclusive rights to the deposits. Nine of these islands are still officially U.S. territories.[8] Control over guano played a central role in the Chincha Islands War (1864–1866) between Spain and a Peruvian-Chilean alliance. Indentured workers from China played an important role in guano harvest. The first group of 79 Chinese workers arrived in Peru in 1849; by the time that trade ended a quarter of a century later, over 100,000 of their fellow countrymen had been imported. There is no documentary evidence that enslaved Pacific Islanders participated in guano mining.[9] Between 1847 and 1873, there was a significant increase in Peruvian guano exports, and the revenue from this momentarily ended the fiscal necessity of the colonial head tax.[10]

After 1870, the use of Peruvian guano as a fertilizer was eclipsed by saltpeter in the form of caliche extraction from the interior of the Atacama Desert, not far from the guano areas. During the War of the Pacific (1879–1883) Chile seized much of the guano as well as Peru's nitrate-producing area, enabling its national treasury to grow by 900% between 1879 and 1902 thanks to taxes coming from the newly acquired lands.[11] Contrary to popular belief, seabird guano does not have high concentrations of nitrates, and was never important to the production of explosives; bat and cave-bird deposits have been processed to produce gunpowder, however. High-grade rock phosphate deposits on Nauru, Banaba Island, Christmas Island (Indian Ocean) and other raised atolls, long supposed to derive from bird guano,[12] have more recently been considered the result of marine sedimentation.[13][14]

Since 1909, when the Peruvian government took over guano extraction for use by Peru farmers, the industry has relied on production by living populations of marine birds. U.S. ornithologists Robert Cushman Murphy and William Vogt promoted the Peruvian industry internationally as a supreme example of wildlife conservation, while also drawing attention to its vulnerability to the El Niño phenomenon. South Africa independently developed its own guano industry based on sustained-yield production from marine birds during this period, as well. Both industries eventually collapsed due to pressure from overfishing.[1] The importance of guano deposits to agriculture elsewhere in the world faded after 1909 when Fritz Haber developed the Haber-Bosch process of industrial nitrogen fixation, which today generates the ammonia-based fertilizer responsible for sustaining an estimated one-third of the Earth's population.[15]

DNA testing has suggested that new potato varieties imported alongside Peruvian seabird guano in 1842 brought a virulent strain of potato blight that began the Irish Potato Famine.

How To Use Bat Guano As A Fertilizer

Gardening Know How - http://www.gardeningknowhow.com

By Nikki Phipps
(Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden [1])

Bat guano, or feces, has a long history of use as a soil enricher. It is obtained from only fruit and insect-feeding species. Bat dung makes an excellent fertilizer. It's fast-acting, has little odor, and can be worked into the soil prior to planting or during active growth. Let's learn more about how to use bat guano as a fertilizer.
What Do They Use Bat Guano For?

There are several uses for bat dung. It can be used as a soil conditioner, enriching the soil and improving drainage and texture. Bat guano is a suitable fertilizer for plants and lawns, making them healthy and green. It can be used as a natural fungicide and controls nematodes in the soil [2] as well. In addition, bat guano makes an acceptable compost activator, speeding up the decomposition process.
How to Use Bat Guano as a Fertilizer

As a fertilizer, bat dung can be used as top dressing [3], worked into the soil, or made into tea and used with regular watering practices. Bat guano can be used fresh or dried. Typically, this fertilizer is applied in smaller quantities than other types of manure.

Bat guano provides a high concentration of nutrients to plants and the surrounding soil. According to the NPK of bat guano, its concentration ingredients are 10-3-1. This NPK fertilizer analysis [4] translates to 10 percent nitrogen [5] (N), 3 percent phosphorus [6] (P), and 1 percent potassium [7] or potash [8] (K). The higher nitrogen levels are responsible for fast, green growth. Phosphorus aids with root and flower development while potassium provides for the plant's overall health.
How to Make Bat Guano Tea

The NPK of bat guano makes it acceptable for use on various plants. An easy way to apply this fertilizer is in tea form, which provides for deep root feeding. Making bat guano tea [9] is easy. The bat dung is simply steeped in water overnight and then it's ready for use when watering plants.

While many recipes exist, a general bat guano tea contains about a cup of dung per gallon of water. Mix together and after sitting overnight, strain the tea and apply to plants.

The uses of bat dung are wide ranging. However, as a fertilizer, this type of manure is one of the best ways to go in the garden. Not only will your plants love it, but your soil will too.

Article printed from Gardening Know How: http://www.gardeningknowhow.com

URL to article: http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/composting/manures/bat-guano-fertilizer.htm

URLs in this post:

[1] The Bulb-o-licious Garden: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/niphipps70

[2] nematodes in the soil: http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/pests/insects/root-knot-nematode.htm

[3] top dressing: http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/lawn-care/lgen/top-dressing-lawns.htm

[4] NPK fertilizer analysis: http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/fertilizer-numbers-npk.htm

[5] nitrogen: http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/understanding-nitrogen-requirements-for-plants.htm

[6] phosphorus: http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/phosphorus-plant-growth.htm

[7] potassium: http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/plants-potassium.htm

[8] potash: http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/garden-how-to/soil-fertilizers/using-potash-in-garden.htm

[9] Making bat guano tea: http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/composting/manures/using-bat-guano-tea.htm


Campo Minerals Bat Guano is available in small quantities at East County Lumber and Ranch Supply in Campo, California
Larger orders may be filled by calling Campo Minerals and asking for Tony at (619) 933-3756

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