Bat Guano: What it is and How to Use it
What is Bat Guano?
Bat guano is essentially bat feces. It is harvested from the droppings of migrating bats to produce plant fertilizer. Due to its high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus, which are macronutrients needed for plant function, bat guano has shown to make an effective form of fertilizer for lawns.
Unlike other types of fertilizers, bat guano has no smell. This not only makes it easier to withstand in spreading, but also an organic alternative to lawn fertilizer. Typically, organic fertilizers have strong odors, deterring many homeowners from using them. This makes bat guano a great option for fertilizing your lawn on your own.
How is Bat Guano Harvested, Packaged, and Sold?
Guano is found in dry areas, such as on islands in the Pacific Ocean, where the rainwater tends to leach the nitrates plants need for growth. Thus, they are frequently sought out in the area, especially in caves where bats inhabit, so that they can be mined and sold. However, this has been found to cause a decline in the population of bats, due to the disturbance and destruction miners can cause to their habitat.
Most types of bat guano are harvested from the droppings of migrating bats rather than from those permanently residing in the area. It is sold in a powder form where it needs to be "scratched" into the soil like a conditioner in order to be activated.
Benefits of Using Bat Guano
Aside from being organic, using bat guano has other qualities that make it a beneficial type of fertilizer to use on your lawn:
- Helpful Microorganisms. Bat guano contains microorganisms that help improve soil quality by breaking down the soil to release plant nutrients in a form that makes it readily available to plants.
- Natural Fungicide and Nematocide. Bat guano helps the soil fight against disease organisms while destroying the first stages of nematodes, a parasite commonly found in soil.
- Non-odorous. There aren't many fertilizers that can claim to have no smell, but bat guano is one of them. The powdered form of the bat droppings leaves behind no discernible smell, making it especially beneficial to apply to lawns in the summer when the heat "enhances" the smell of fertilizer.
When to Use Bat Guano Fertilizer
Bat guano, like most fertilizers, should be applied in the spring and fall in cool climates and late summer in the warmer climates for lawns.
Despite its lack of a strong odor, the best way to put bat guano to work is to make bat guano tea. Although it sounds unappealing, it's actually a refreshing departure from other fertilizers, which are typically distributed in pellets or clumps of organic matter.
To make bat guano tea, place ½ cup of bat guano in a cheesecloth bag or coffee filter. Tie the top off and steep the bag for 3-4 days in water. Then, use the water on the lawn to fertilize plants with bat guano.
Bat guano can be a pricier alternative to lawn fertilizers, but it may be worth it for the lack of smell and easy distribution. You can still apply it in its natural form, or use the tea bag process mentioned above. At any rate, bat guano should prove to be an effective form of fertilizer that achieves healthy, growing lawns.