Advice on using bird guano for fertilizer / soil amendment

Discussion in 'Michigan Homesteading and Home Improvement' started by Lamarsh, May 8, 2018.

  1. Lamarsh

    Lamarsh

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    I started a pigeon loft about a year ago. As you can imagine, I am collecting my fair share of poop. Since I keep my birds very healthy, the poop is of very good quality, odorless and loafy (my birds get probiotics and all kinds of other nutrition, they are spoiled). I clean the loft daily and dump the poop in a 5 gal bucket. A few times a year I scatter the poop, about 1/4-1/3 of a 5 gal bucket worth, over my 10'x10' vegetable garden and mix it all in pretty evenly with a rake.

    I am wondering if this is too much nutrients for my soil, or not enough?

    Would it be better for me to add it to my soil as a tea by soaking it over night, straining and just adding the water to my soil?

    Really just generally looking for advice on dos and don'ts for this. I know there is a such thing as too much. This bird poop is super potent, it is odorless when I clean it up but after a month of sitting in the bucket it develops a very strong ammonia odor.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Lamarsh

    Lamarsh

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    Also, I'd love to use a fertilizer tea for my grass made from my pigeons' poop, but was always worried I'd make it too strong and kill the grass, so if anybody has any suggestions as to how to do that / the right ratio for the tea, that'd be awesome as well!
     

  3. Waif

    Waif

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    I like the idea of adding it to compost and after it cooks out ,rest it a year.
    Fowl is high nitrate manure ,and other "hotter" things for fresh use.
    Leaves alone could be enough material to compost with ,with maple my first choice....
    A crude tea recipe is in the link.
    http://poultryone.com/gardens-and-misc/manure-html
     
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  4. Lamarsh

    Lamarsh

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    Thanks Waif. Always coming through with the sage knowledge, my friend.

    The tea was one route I was looking into. Another route I've been reading about is drying the pigeon poop in the sun, powderizing it and simply spreading it (garden, lawn, whatever)--my only issue is finding a practical way to powder it up once it's dry. Any ideas?

    Also, I've already added about 1/4 of a 5 gal bucket of not dried pigeon poop to the soil in my vegetable garden about twice in the past 6 months, one time was several months ago, and the second time was about a week ago. I am wondering if that runs any risk of too much nutrients in my soil? If so, could I sort of dial back the nutrient amendment by adding easily compostable carbon such as shredded dead leafs? If it is a huge problem I'd like to get the affected soil removed before I plant my garden in the next few weeks.
     
  5. Waif

    Waif

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    Fresh=Hot ,as far as burning new/established plants. Yours should have leached out enough by planting time if you stop applying now.
    I would be gunshy about any direct application.
    If you still want to use fresh off a dropping board or whatever....A side dressing method might be safer. Out past plantings ,but in range of later roots near plant maturity.

    Even if only using soil beyond the gardened areas this year for next years garden application (or to cover garden with over winter) ,mixing manure with it appeals to me more than drying it.
    Dried will still hold high nitrates at least. Diluted and dispersed throughout other material appeals more for lighter influence when applied to or near plants. That hints of tea for fresh stuff after once side dressing all rows. Though only doing a couple rows would limit any damage if still too hot.....

    Raw manure contains things like disease that can spread or be prolonged as mentioned too in poultry articles that drying may not eliminate the way proper composing should.
     
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  6. Joshmo

    Joshmo

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    I've always kept things as organic as possible in my gardens. I've used chicken poo when I was out west in Oregon. Found the best way, for me, was to make tea. I also use a TDS meter, about 100$, and I keep th p.p.m under 1500. I use tea about every two weeks. Pay attention to what the leave of the plants do. They'll let you know if it's too much. For example, leaves are lighter color than normal, not enough nitro, too much can cause them to curl or spike downward at the tips, depending on what your growing. Most plants also don't use as much nitro while fruiting.
     
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  7. Lamarsh

    Lamarsh

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    Thanks guys. Does anybody know why when my 5 gal bucket starts to stack up the pigeon poop, maybe about 1/4 full, there begins to be a STRONG odor of ammonia. Like so strong it'll get your head spinning if you stick your nose close to the bucket.

    I wonder what that does to the poop as far as quality goes as fertilizer?

    I also wonder if the ammonia may kill any bacteria that may be in the poop, such as coccidia and such?
     
  8. Joshmo

    Joshmo

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    Probably just the poo breaking down and releasing the ammonia. I don't think it's enough concentration to kill anything. I'll have to research, that's a Damn good question.
     
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  9. Lamarsh

    Lamarsh

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    Thanks. Let me know what you may find out. Seems to happen after the poop sits for a while in a mass with other poop. It is an undeniable and strong smell of ammonia.
     
  10. Joshmo

    Joshmo

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    Found a few links with interesting information. I knew how bird droppings are different than mammals. Uric acid is quite simply, urine. So birds in some sense pee and poo from the same hole.
    http://www.askabiologist.org.uk/answers/viewtopic.php?id=589

    The next link is mostly about parrots but I think is very relevant. I never knew the white part of the poo is what holds most of the nitrogen.
    https://www.petcha.com/all-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-bird-poop/

    This last one was interesting, because it states pidgeon poo is not a very good fertilizer. I do see this as beneficiary, in a sense, as I am an optimistic person. In my opinion. If it doesn't hold as much nitrates/nitrites it will be less likely to burn up plants. On the downside, it will take more once you start using a TDS meter to measure how much your plants are getting and you're trying to feed them the max amount. I don't know what pidgeons will eat. I should say, chickens eat EVERYTHING! lol So the way the article reads is guano from birds with fish diets is the way to go for max nitro. You be the judge.
    http://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/what-load-guano-5-facts-you-didnt-know-about-bird-poop
    I would say, get a TDS meter. $100 (for a good one) and if you take care of it, it will last for years (I've had mine ten years now). You can buy solution to test it and make sure it is properly calibrated. I've been reading, after my recent research, that EC meters are the way to go, I may have to get one this year. Although, most of what I've been reading on the meters are for marijuana growing, I'm pretty sure it will hold true with most plants, vegetative and flowers alike. A plant is a plant, to an extent. So I'll include this last one so you can make your own educated guess.
    https://www.maximumyield.com/understanding-ec-tds-and-ppm/2/1343

    I always PH test my water, I NEVER water straight from the city hookup without letting it dechoranate for 24 hours (city water holds chlorine and kills the beneficial bacteria in the soil, just like we have bacteria in our stomach to help digest, plants have beneficials in the soil). and I always triple check all my numbers before feeding my babies. Through all the variables, I would say that PH is more important than ANYTHING else ( I relate it to Sweet or Sour, you want that middle ground) Nitros are next, if you're feeding the right amount but the PH is off, the plant isn't absorbing it at it's full potential. This can leave more salts in the soil, that's bad, of course. Too little Nutes, well, it isn't getting what it needs and doesn't produce.
    There are so many variables in growing, I don't think there is any "one for sure method." It takes time, patience and love to make things grow, unless you're growing crabgrass. lol
    Good luck with your garden. Keep posting pics so I know how you're doing. I'll try my best to do the same but I'm planning on being a first time homebuyer this year so I'm putting everything in pots, instead of the ground. On the plus side, I'll be able to experiment more. If I over feed, I can flush it out. Good luck to ya. Hoping to see some good garden pics. I'm working on getting my littlens hardened for full sun. Just started a few weeks ago. I'll post a pic shortly.
     
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  11. Lamarsh

    Lamarsh

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    Very interesting and helpful, thank you!
     
  12. Fishndude

    Fishndude

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    I once accepted some Pigeon guano from a Pigeon Racer, and he told me that bird poop won't burn plants the way animal manure can. I put a large amount on my gardens, and never had a problem. My tomatoes were incredible that year.
     
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  13. Lamarsh

    Lamarsh

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    That's good to hear. Would you mind giving me some details as to how you put it on? Was it dried up or sort of wet and fresh? If dried, did you go about crumbling it into a finer powder or dust? Did you rake it into the soil, or just spread it on top and let the rain and watering leech it down into the soil?
     
  14. Fishndude

    Fishndude

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    the stuff I got was dried in thick mats, from the bottom of his coop. He said he cleaned it every couple months, or so. I just shoveled it into big bags (wearing a mask) and then used a shovel to break it into smaller chunks, before turning it into the soil. I didn't make tea, or anything extravagant with it. I am a simple guy. Turning it into the soil worked really well, and was simple.