Bone meal is an organic fertilizer that most growers use in organic gardening. Do you know there are some risks in using bone meal fertilizers? Not all bone meal fertilizers are safe to use for humans (100% safe for plants).
In this post you will learn the techniques to keep yourself safe while using bone meal. There is a way to use it, organic growers love to add this fertilizer to increase the phosphorus level of the soil.
What is bone meal Fertilizer?
As the name suggests it is a material that is derived from an animal of bones. It is found in every garden store. Bone Meal comes in two forms one is powder form another is granular form. People mostly use the powder form of bone meal fertilizer.
The manufacturers of bone meal ground up the bones of slaughtered animals to make it. The most commonly used slaughtered animal is beef. But every bag of it contains the bone powder of many different animals.
People use it due to the high amount of phosphorous in it. This is a type of fertilizer that releases the nutrient at a very slow rate.
Why expert growers use a bone meal?
Years ago, we humans add natural substances to the soil to make it better for growing plants. as time passed the technology gets advanced and people understand adding natural products to the soil is not enough for higher yield. The population grows at a rapid rate, this increases the demand for food which directly affects the agriculture industry.
Farmers started producing more food to full fill the demand of the public. But there was one big problem, plants grow slowly and produce lesser fruits. Then farmers demand the permanent solution which saves their plants from diseases and increases yield.
Researchers develop synthetic fertilizers which are 50 times more powerful than natural products that were added in soil. These fertilizers increase the growth rate of plants and double the yield. After a few years of use, people demand organic fruits and vegetables which does not contain any chemical.
Now farmers stop putting chemical fertilizers in the field but again slow growth rate and lesser observed by the agriculture department.
Then the father of fertilizers Justus Von Liebig comes with the idea of extracting phosphorus and other nutrients from the bones of dead animals. This way fields get proper nutrition and people get pure organic food.
He also discovered that Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and potassium are the main nutrients that plants need to grow healthy and strong.
Calcium, magnesium, zinc, etc are the nutrients that are also required but in limited quantity. If any of them is absent in the soil this results in improper growth of plants and herbs.
Soil erosion, plant uptake, etc deplete the nutrient layer of soil this is responsible for nutrient deficiency in plants. manure or compost are developed to supply the depleted nutrient back to the soil to make it suitable for growing plants.
Bone meal is the oldest phosphorus fertilizer available until today.
Why it is so popular?
phosphorus and calcium play important role in plant growth. The plant will die in the absence of phosphorus because plants use it for all metabolic reactions. The main use of it is to transfer the energy to different parts of the plant.
Firstly, the energy is converted into carbohydrates which water supply to all parts of plants.
Calcium is required in a lesser amount but plays a vital role. It is responsible for the successful division of plant cells. Also, it helps to transport the nutrients within plants. calcium deficiency slows down the growth rate.
Bone meal fertilizer is a natural way to feed your soil and plant all-natural nutrients. Today we have so many sources of plant fertilizers most of them are synthetic which is not good for the soil. So, use bone meal fertilizer to keep the health of your soil.
The Best way to use bone meal
According to a rough guideline for best results, one should mix 10 pounds of bone meal fertilizer to 100 square feet of garden. The annual application is enough for all fruits and vegetables. herbs need it in very low quantity. You can mix it into the soil to increase its nutrient content at any time of the year.
For example, the addition of it is very beneficial for growing root crops like onions, carrots, etc.
The presence of calcium in it gives strong and healthy cells of plants. it also prevents some minor diseases in some vegetables like tomatoes etc. it is rich in phosphorous, calcium and has traces of nitrogen and potassium.
If your garden needs potassium it does not mean you add bone meal into the soil.
Read the below guidelines to know when to add it to the garden and when not.
Calcium Deficiency: It is another essential nutrient that is required to grow healthy plants after the phosphorous. The fruits, root, and plant healthy shows the sign of calcium deficiency in plants. sometimes the calcium deficiency is only in the root which is hard to detect through the visual inspection.
Check the new leaves, if they are deformed mean they do not hold their natural shape this means your plant needs calcium. It also affects the root tips and sometimes stops the formation of new leaves completely. The roots became short and undeveloped, unable to penetrate deep in the soil for water and another nutrient. This also stops the supply of nutrients from the soil to plants through the roots.
Calcium deficient plants do not produce fruits because the nutrient transfer system stops working. Once this system gets destroyed the plant will die in a few days. Save your growth by checking their requirements.
There are many other organic sources of calcium are available but most of them contain a high content of calcium. If in case we add extra calcium to our garden this will negatively affect the entire garden production rate. High calcium means a high pH level of soil which is not good for the garden.
Keep in mind while adding bone meal to garden
Bone meal is highly useful in phosphorus-deficient soil. The researchers of Colorado State University published a report about bone meal fertilizer. It is mentioned in the report the plants only get benefits of phosphorus from bone meals when the soil pH level is below 7. This means one should check the pH level of soil before and after mixing the fertilizer to it. if you find the soil pH level goes up to 7 or beyond add limestone or other substances to make it alkaline.
The report revel that a higher pH level means the soil already contains a high amount of calcium and mixing the fertilizer to it makes the conditions worse for plants.
Almost all soils have some percentage of natural phosphorus except that soil which is used for farming from years. Too much phosphorus disturbs the growth of roots which directly affects the food transportation system of plants. once they did not get the food, they start showing the signs of starving and after few days they die due to nutrient deficiency. To reduce this problem please check the nutrition level of soil before altering it.
A top-dressing of bone meal attracts the dogs, raccoons, coyotes and other animals that like to eat meat. Mix it well into the soil and do not leave it on the upper layer if you do not want your garden to be destroyed by the animals.
How to use bone meal in hydroponics?
Nutrient-rich water is the key to the success of hydroponic systems. Plants get nutrients through water which contains a high percentage of water-soluble nutrients. The rule is the same for soil growing and soil-less growing high phosphorous.
Organic food lovers like to add bone meal fertilizer to their hydroponics to get pure food. Phosphorus and calcium, I bone meal is easily soluble in water. It is not easy to add bone meal to the hydroponics as it is easy in the soil. There are no guidelines to follow while adding it into the nutrient solution.
Add it similarly like you add other fertilizers but always measure the PPM before adding it to the reservoir. Take the measurements of phosphorous and calcium only because other nutrients are at a very low percentage.
Click to know more about Safety Guidelines for Fertilizers and Supplements in Canada