That’s why we’re so excited to chat with you about seabird guano! A completely natural substance with a truly amazing nutrient profile, seabird guano is arguably one of the most powerful plant fertilizers on the planet.
Even if you’ve never used guano before or aren’t even sure what it is, we’re going to cover everything you’re curious about.
What Is Guano?
Let’s cut to the chase. Is “guano” just another word for bird droppings? Technically, yes. But is seabird guano so much more? It sure is!
It has been used as a powerful soil supplement for centuries. In fact, the Spanish word guano developed from the word wanu in Quechua, a native language spoken mostly in the Peruvian Andes, but also in Ecuador, Chile, and other South American communities with Incan ancestry.
A Hero Helper For Plants & Soil
What makes seabird guano such a potent fertilizer?
It’s that 100% fish diet. Thanks to the birds’ fresh ocean buffet and the guano’s drying process (as it accumulates year after year, drying without being washed away by rain), seabird guano is a superhero for plants and soil.
Vigorous Growth & Soil Support
Altogether, the nutrient makeup of seabird guano encourages plants to grow rapidly and to develop robust flowers and foliage. That makes it perfect for leafy green vegetables, fruit trees, and any flowering plants.
Phosphorus (that “P” that you see on your fertilizer’s label) is especially important for fruit and flower development. Potassium (K) supports root systems and photosynthesis. Carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) are essential foods for the soil’s microorganisms.
Feeding the soil with these macronutrients and carbon stimulates microbial activity—helping all the microscopic soil inhabitants like bacteria and fungi thrive. Curious about what makes healthy soil? Check out our blog all about the living world inside your soil!
Another beneficial aspect of seabird guano is its combination of readily available and slow-release nutrients. Plants get the nutrition they need right away, and some nutrients become available to plants over the crop cycle. This makes seabird guano especially wonderful for abundant vegetable production.
Over the last several years, our seabird guano-based products have grown in popularity with our agricultural customers—large-scale organic farms that you know and trust. We’re excited to introduce home gardeners to an ingredient that the best organic farmers in the world are already using.
Food Safe & Family Friendly
If you’re feeling iffy about using guano in your home garden, we get it! Especially if you’re newer to using earth-based ingredients to feed and fertilize your garden, you might feel timid.
Rest assured, our seabird guano—like all our products—is rigorously tested for food safety so you can confidently use it to grow food for your family table.
All of our products go through treatment that eliminates harmful pathogens, while leaving the microorganisms that are beneficial to soil. Those beneficial microorganisms are thermophilic, which means they’re able to withstand the pasteurization process that kills off other microbes that you won’t want in your garden.
One of TRUE’s core values and points of pride is our dedication to food safety. In fact, we’re the first plant food manufacturer with a structured food safety system in place. True Organic™ is the only plant food available that is made with a food safety process that is ISO 22000 certified from Bureau Veritas (a world-class food safety management seal of approval).
Sustainably Harvested in Peru
This precious resource comes exclusively from a set of islands off the coast of Peru, where it is sustainably harvested and the seabirds are protected. On these rocky islands, happy seabirds roost, soak up the sun, and—yep—take bio breaks.
Their guano dries on the sun-bleached rock (called curing), where it’s harvested or “mined” by scraping and sifting. Because the guano is a finite resource in a delicate ecosystem, the Peruvian government helps keep an eye on the maintenance and harvesting.
“The Peruvians take a lot of pride in their seabird guano,” says True Organic™ Founder and CEO Jake Evan, who has seen first-hand how dedicated the Peruvian teams are to sustainably managing the guano process. “The priority is maintaining bird health and nesting grounds.”
Sadly, the history of seabird guano is a harsh one. Before manufactured fertilizers were commercially available, farmers world-round used a swath of natural ingredients to boost their fields’ growth—and seabird guano was one of the most highly coveted. Because of unsustainable practices through the 1800, the seabird population drastically declined, local people and resources were exploited, and wars were even fought over it. It wasn’t until the 1900s that the Peruvian government recognized how vital it was to protect the seabirds and their habitat.
Thankfully, Peruvian seabirds and their islands are now vigorously protected. An environmental team is dedicated to checking on birds to make sure they are thriving. Guano is harvested only when the birds aren’t there, so it’s not disruptive to the colony and never disturbs their nests. Only a certain amount of guano is taken every year, and the harvest rotates between multiple islands. You can see why it’s so valuable!
We can’t wait to see what you grow!
When we examine how seabird guano helps plants and soil, it’s a great reminder that nature provides all the ingredients for thriving soil, oceans, plants, and creatures. Just like when we use the word “manure” to designate something more than bovine excrement, guano is a complex, nutrient-rich substance that is much more than simply “waste.”
Here at True Organic™, our focus is that holistic vision of a thriving world, from helping you grow your own backyard garden to finding the most sustainable way to use nature's resources. We can’t wait to see what you grow!
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