Guano Organic Fertilizer News

Guano a tale of two birds

Gain a better understanding of the difference between guanos available on the markets, the real effective cost of the product and when do you need to use guano in this first article in a series of 12 by agronomist Robert Drewitt.

Guano, A Tale of Two Birds


Article 1 of 12 - written by Robert Drewitt, BcSc(Ag) | Agronomist | Agronomy Services Australasia Pty Ltd

© Copyright in this work is owned by Guano Australia Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times! This might have been the thoughts of the guano miners shovelling and bagging guano from caves to load into bags to bring back to Europe to fertiliser crops.  In 1609 Peruvian Guano was first discovered by the western world however, the Incas had been using guano for centuries with strict rules around protecting the sea birds that nested on the Islands. The guano trade began in a commercial form by 1840 when the United States started using guano as its main source of fertiliser. The use of guano created an agricultural boom. United States president at the time, Millard Fillmore said in Congress “The duty of the Government is to employ all means properly in its power to assure guano is imported into this country at a reasonable price.” In 1856 the US Government passed the Guano Island Act which allowed any unclaimed islands to be annexed. So began the hunt for guano to feed the world’s crops.

Today, over 150 years after the 1856 proclamation the world still demands guano as a source of nutrition for crops and pasture. Today however the world is a different place and deposits of guano are not as readily available. Guano has two main types; the fresh Guano from bats and birds that contains nitrogen and older Guano that has been either coralised, or in the case of inland deposits formed into sedimentary rock deposits. The older guanos are high in phosphorus and calcium but contain no nitrogen.

With respect to Australian agriculture the focus is on the older forms that are imported as a source of fertiliser for both the organic and non-organic farming industry. The current imported guanos fall into two main categories; inland, mainly Chinese guano and coastal or sea bird guano from South East Asia; where your Madura Guano Gold® comes from, is very important from an agronomy viewpoint as it determines both how available the phosphorus in the product is and if the product contains beneficial silica at significant levels.

This article is the first of twelve in a series, that will give the reader a good understanding of the difference between guanos available on the markets, the real effective cost of the product, plus when do you need to use guano. We will also look into phosphorus tie-ups, the Phosphorus Buffing Index, as well as Silica’s roll as a beneficial element both in the soil and in the plant.

© 2019 Agronomy Services Australasia Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.

To keep following this series of articles be sure to get your copy of Country News or check back at our News page over the next 12 weeks.

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Being so far away from our markets, durability is critical and the Silica is really good in terms of hardening up the skin and making the melons better to transport.Ord River WA irrigator David Menzel-Barradale
The problem with many organic fertilisers is that they have very low rates of nutrients, meaning you need to put out high rates. A product like Guano Gold has 12pc P, whereas Guano Sulphur Gold has 10.5pc P, obviously with additional sulphur. These figures compare very favourably with something like a single superphosphate product. Agronomically, it’s a good product in any setting, not just for organic producers.Garry Allison, Landmark Agronomist. Mount Gambier, SA
For the broadacre croppers, Guano Gold works really well in paddocks where they have had issues with nutrient tie-up. He said the majority of synthetic P products have large rates of water soluble P. The problem with that is that you can have instances where it ends up tying up zinc in the soil so you run into problems with zinc deficiencies. Not only does the slow release nature of the Guano Gold product work well over the entire season, it also contains zinc for the crop as well as the other nutrients.Moree agronomist Rob Drewitt
We strongly recommend the Guano Gold products to fellow farmers if they are looking at improving their Calcium and Silica levels using various methods of application such as foliar and granular.James and Aimee Thomas Falkirk Macadamia Farm
I have recommended Guano Gold products for 20 years and in all cases had excellent long-term results increasing in pasture productivity.Paul Baguely - PB Ag Consulting
They are high analysis products so you get your nutrients without having to put too much fertiliser out.Anthony Beutel, Googa Farm Organics
We have known since the 1930s that phosphorus is one of the main elements required to grow a successful crop of not just the (flax) plant but the seed. It was one of those products that was first out in a granular type form and it was so much easier to get an even coverage over the ground, rather than a powder form. Later on the product became a little more refined, so we could put it through our air-seeder. We also broadcast some of it, prior to seeding, when we are cultivating ground. The products have great characteristics in relation to phosphate and silica, which is exactly what we need for flax.Waltanna Farms flax-seed farmer & Ambassador for Guano Australia, Michael Nagorcka

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