What is Feather Meal & Why is it in Potting Soil?
Feather meal is a byproduct of poultry processing. It is made from poultry feathers by grinding them under elevated heat and pressure, and then drying and grinding them again (more on this process later).
Feather meal is a high-nitrogen slow-release natural organic fertilizer, meaning that the nitrogen is released into the soil gradually over time. This makes it a good choice for fertilizing plants that need a steady supply of nitrogen, such as vegetables, flowers, and fruit trees.
Feather meal is also a good fertilizer for organic gardeners, as it is certified organic by the USDA. It is also a good choice for gardeners who want to avoid using synthetic fertilizers.
Most potting mixes labeled as organic or natural contain feather meal as it is inexpensive and a great source of long-lasting nitrogen.
Feather meal does not pollute, meaning it does not leach out of the soil into the water streams.
Feather meal is a good use of a waste product and making it useful in our potting mixes, gardens, and landscapes.
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Feather Meal NPK – What is the Fertilizer Analysis?
The NPK ratio of feather meal is typically 12-0-0. This means that it contains 12% nitrogen (N), 0% phosphorus (P), and 0% potassium (K).
Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for plant growth. It is needed for the production of chlorophyll, which is essential for photosynthesis. Nitrogen also helps to produce strong stems and leaves, and it is important for the development of flowers and fruits.
However, even though the analysis of feather meal is commonly listed as 12-0-0, most suppliers mention it is also a good source of phosphorus and potassium. I’m not sure where the disconnect is between stating it contains these elements yet the stated analysis does not include them as a significant source.
Feather meal is a slow-release fertilizer, which means that the nitrogen is released into the soil gradually over time. This makes it a good choice for fertilizing plants that need a steady supply of nitrogen, such as vegetables, flowers, and fruit trees.
Feather Meal is great to add to potting mixes, gardens, compost piles, landscapes, and lawns.
Is Feather Meal Organic in the Eyes of the Regulators?
Feather meal is also a good choice for organic gardeners, as it is certified organic by the USDA. It is also a good choice for gardeners who want to avoid using synthetic fertilizers.
How is Feather Meal Made?
Feather meal is made through a process called rendering. Rendering is a process of cooking feathers to create a protein-rich powder that can be used as fertilizer. Rendering is also a process used to create a variety of other by-products to create fertilizer.
The process of making feather meal begins by collecting the feathers from poultry processing plants. The feathers are then washed and ground to remove any dirt or debris. The ground feathers are then placed in a pressure cooker, where they are heated to high temperatures and pressures. This process hydrolyzes the proteins in the feathers, making them more digestible.
After rendering, the feathers are dried to a moisture content of less than 10%. The dried feathers are then ground into a powder, which is the finished feather meal product.
How to Use Feather Meal
To use feather meal fertilizer, simply spread it evenly over the soil around your plants. You can also mix it into the soil before planting.
Feather meal is a common natural, organic, and powerful fertilizer already added to organic or natural potting mixes that are labeled as containing fertilizer.
Here are some of the benefits of using feather meal fertilizer:
- It is a high-nitrogen organic fertilizer that is slow-release, meaning that the nitrogen is released into the soil gradually over time.
- It is a good source of phosphorus and potassium.
- It is certified organic by the USDA.
- It is a good choice for gardeners who want to avoid using synthetic fertilizers.
Feather meal fertilizer is a good choice for a variety of plants, including:
- Vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, corn, leafy greens, etc.
- Flowers: roses, lilies, begonias, petunias, geraniums, etc.
- Fruit trees: apple, pear, peach, plum, citrus, etc.
When using feather meal fertilizer, be sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer label.