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Bat Guano Fertilizer: Benefits and How to Use

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Bat Guano Fertilizer: Benefits and How to Use

Derived from the accumulated excrement of bats as well as various seabirds, guano is a highly nutritious product that is useful as an organic fertilizer.

Bat guano fertilizer is great for increasing plant yields and also suitable for lawns. Plants you can use it on include vegetables, nut trees, herbs, fruit trees, and even flowers and ornamentals.

Below you’ll find more benefits and uses of bat guano fertilizer.

What is Bat Guano?

As mentioned, guano is the collected and amassed excrement of bats and seabirds. It is the name some people call bat poop or feces. It is usually dried and pelleted for use in organic gardening.

The word originates from an indigenous language of the Andean region and has a general meaning of any dung used as fertilizer in agriculture/horticulture [1].

You can find it in caves all over the globe where these caves become storehouses of this natural fertilizer. The bat droppings also contain the remains of insects and other bat food.

These deposits are further processed at floor level by beetles, resulting in nutrient-rich manure. Islands off the coast of Peru are the main collection area for bird guano, as well as Baja (Lower California) and parts of Africa [2].

Guano’s properties make it highly useful and one of the best organic fertilizers and improver for plants.

Nutrients 

Guano is a rich source of nutrients for the garden, supplying nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium — NPK. It also contains carbon, calcium, and sulfur.

  • Plants need carbon for healthy growth.
  • Nitrogen has a similar and even more important function in plant growth.
  • Phosphorus helps to complete its normal production
  • Potassium helps grow strong stems and increases resistance to pests and diseases.
  • Calcium is important in supporting the cell structure of plants.
  • Sulfur is necessary for chlorophyll formation, among other functions. To tell if your plant has a sulfur deficiency, you’ll notice a pale green color or yellowing of the entire plant.

Guano content varies from species to species and according to regional diet. It may also contain remains of the exoskeletons of insects released as chitin.

Chitin is important to the soil as it releases nitrogen. It is also highly beneficial in boosting the immune system of plants.

Benefits

Guano provides multiple benefits for the organic gardener. The nutrients available encourage strong and healthy growth in all types of plants.

The high levels of nitrogen increase the green color as well as helping the plants to grow quickly, strongly, and healthily. Moreover, you can use it as a natural fungicide to control harmful soil-dwelling nematodes and protect plants from soil-borne diseases.

You can also treat lawns with guano to help strengthen and improve the quality and heighten the green color.

A further benefit to organic gardeners is in composting. Use guano in the compost heap as an activator to speed up the process of decomposition.

Composted guano, prepared correctly to avoid contamination by fungal spores, is ideal for use as a fertilizer. Moreover, it is a great booster for seedlings and young developing plants.

Additionally, the slow release of nutrients from bat guano enables plants, crops, and lawns to benefit over a whole season.

How to Use Bat Guano

Apply guano carefully by following the package instructions to ensure the correct amount and distribution. It is safe to use both indoors and outdoors if handled properly.

It is usually sold in packs in dry granulated/pelletized or powdered form and forked directly into the soil or spread as a top dressing.

You can also prepare the tea to use as a foliar spray or pour it on the garden soil. Applied onto leaves, the tea will act as protection against fungal diseases.

Use this fertilizer at any stage of growing crops. A spray or sprinkling of guano powder/pellets is useful around developing plants at any time in the growing season.

Moreover, compost tea is the most effective way of feeding plants indoors and in the greenhouse.

Tea Recipe

To make bat guano tea, dilute one cup of dung per gallon of water that is free of chlorine. You can use warm water; however, never use hot water.

Stir the mixture well and leave it to brew for a while, preferably overnight. It is best to do it well away from the family as it might stink and be extremely unpleasant.

When it is finished, this highly nutritious plant food will be ready to use as a foliar spray or pour it onto the soil around plants.

Alternatively, if fresh guano is available, a suggestion is to wrap half a cup of guano in muslin and steep in 4 gallons of water for 3-4 days and use as above.

Plants That Benefit From Bat Guano

All kinds of vegetables, flowers, cannabis plants, shrubs, fruit/nut bushes, or trees can benefit from a drink of guano tea or otherwise.

Herb gardens and vines are also improved with some guano fertilizer. Lawns can also benefit and achieve a healthy and greener appearance.

Where to Find It?

The easiest and safest way to acquire bat guano is in packaged dry form from the local gardening store or online. Buy it in small packages or in large quantities.

Additionally, you can find it in bat caves throughout the world in places like Jamaica, Chile, Cuba, Peru, and Mexico. However, there are potential dangers in harvesting. Miners can come in contact with dangerous bat-borne pathogens that can cause serious illness [3].

Takeaway

Guano has been known as a fertilizer for many generations. Today, it is becoming widely used again, mined by environmentally-friendly methods.

Picture via flickr/Joe Decruyenaere

Andre Campbell

Organic farmer and co-founder of Dre Campbell Farm. He appreciates everything in nature -- sunshine, plants, animals, and human life.

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