Hydrolyzed Fish - an Excellent Alternative to Fish Emulsion
As we’d mentioned in a previous entry in this series on fertilizers from our oceans, the relative values of fish emulsion and hydrolyzed fish fertilizer are debated by their manufacturers.
We previously offered a version of how fish emulsion is made, so it only seems fair to tell the other side of the story now. As with our previous entry detailing how fish emulsions are made, which was prepared by an individual employed by the fish emulsion industry, this following blurb is a product of the hydrolyzed fish fertilizer industry.
Drammatic™ Organic Fish Fertilizer
We make our fertilizers from fresh fish carefully processed at low temperatures (under 90°F) to maintain the integrity of naturally occurring amino acids, vitamins, hormones and enzymes. This method produces a product called a “hydrolysate”.
Drammatic™ fish hydrolysates contain the natural oils and proteins of fish, which break down slowly becoming available to soil microbes over a longer period of time than chemical fertilizers or fish emulsions.
In contrast, the majority of fish fertilizers on the market today are known as “emulsions”. First the fish is cooked and the oil removed for paints and cosmetics. Then the protein is removed and dried to make fish meal for livestock feeds. The remaining wastewater is condensed into a brown, thick liquid called an “emulsion”.
Versus the emulsion process
Benefits of Hydrolyzed Fish Fertilizer
According to a report from the University of Washington, a “hydrolyzed fish fertilizer can create excellent plant growth and product yield, and is made from an aquatic renewable raw material source rather than the non-renewable petrochemical products being used so extensively.” In summary, a closely controlled enzyme hydrolysate:
1. Provides the macro nutrients required for healthy growth.
2. Provides the micro nutrients required for healthy growth.
3. Is easy to apply on the soil or directly on the foliage.
4. Improves yields and the quality of agricultural crops.
5. Reduces the overall cost of fertilizer, based on yield.
6. Use hydrolyzed fish as a pH stabilizer for pesticide sprayer solutions.
Of course we are always suspicious of claims directly from the manufacturer, so such glowing descriptions are usually best taken with a grain of salt. The following testimonial on the benefits of Hydrolyzed fish ferts comes from Weekend Gardener Monthly Web Magazine (we did correct some glaring spelling errors from the original ) -
Hydrolyzed Fish Fertilizer
This product is an excellent source of N-P-K (nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium) and contains trace minerals. Hydrolyzed means that it has been cold processed, which is very important.
Fish emulsion is heat processed, meaning that a lot of the nutrients and amino acids are totally destroyed during processing, leaving you with a product that has little nutritional value and a smell that is memorable.
Hyrdrolyzed, on the other hand, keeps all its nutrients and proteins and allows them to be readily available to the plant. It also makes those nutrients water soluble, so you can use them for foliar spraying or drip irrigation, with no worries of clogging. Because it does contain many minerals, it helps to keep the soil balanced and, in fact, improves soil quality just like an amendment. The N-P-K are 4-2-2, still fairly low, but used a little more frequently, I have seen this product do just as much for plants as a 20-20-20 based fertilizer.
In the end, the “competition” between the two kinds of fish fertilizers, complete with varying claims of relative effectiveness, seems a little silly. We see them as complimentary products, rather than fertilizers directly competing with each other. 5-1-1 Fish emulsion is great for a quick boost of Nitrogen, however being so high in Nitrogen, it’s not necessarily ideal alone as an everyday fertilizer.
Hydrolyzed fish fertilizers, like the 2-4-1 Neptune’s Harvest we’ve mentioned before, seem a bit more balanced and suitable for everyday use, therefore in our eyes they fall into a different category of use than fish emulsions. If anything, hydrolyzed fish ferts may be a little shy on nitrogen for optimum vegetative growth when growing hungry herbs like cannabis, so the occasional boost of from it’s 5-1-1 “cousin” is usually greatly appreciated.
With that said, for indoor herb gardening, we do find both products to be a little lacking in potassium. That just gives us an excuse to add another ingredient to our plant’s seafood buffet, a bit of our favorite plant tonic, kelp.