Bioliquid fertilizer (BLF; also known as organic liquid fertilizer) has become popular with ECHO’s network and smallholder farmers around the world. ECHO West Africa introduces and instructs on how to prepare this amendment in ECHO West Africa Note 1 (Sié Kansié, 2017). You can also watch this short video [Lightning Talk - Bioliquid Fertilizer | ECHOcommunity.org] sharing one approach to making and applying BLF.
In March (2022), we made BLF as outlined by Sié Kansié, 2017 with the utilization of pigeon manure and the new growth (leaves and stems) of Mexican sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia). We thoroughly mixed the ingredients until uniform in appearance. The container was covered with a breathable cloth, allowing for aerobic decomposition. We mixed the BLF daily for the duration of the trial. Each week (including the week of initial mixing: week 0), we thoroughly mixed the BLF and obtained a sample. Samples were sent to a laboratory for analysis.
Nutrient content over time
Nutrient levels increased over time during the first few weeks, before reaching a peak and leveling off. Nitrogen content was highest at the third week after initial mixing (Figure 1A). Phosphorus content peaked at week five (Figure 1B). Potassium content followed a similar trend as phosphorus, increasing rapidly until week five (Figure 1C). The average pH of the BLF was 6.76.
In summary, we saw that:
Figure 1. Total nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium content of the BLF over time.
These trends indicate that the optimum time to apply BLF is earlier (2 to 3 weeks) for nitrogen than other nutrients. Factors such as temperature, thoroughness of mixing, and sample handling may have impacted nutrient content values over sampling weeks.
Have you make BLF before? What ingredients did you use and what was your experience?
Sié Kansié, B. 2017. The preparation of organic liquid fertilizer. ECHO West Africa Note no. 1.
Thanks Stacey for sharing that information. Very interesting. I had not thought about taking ours to a lab for testing but I will.
We make ours in 250 gallon tanks using a variety of mixtures but most often comfrey leaves, manure, molasses and raw milk. In addition, we add something we make that we call MM (Mountain Micro organisms) which is similar to KNF-2. The difference is KNF is grown aerobically and MM is grown anaerobically. But they both look the same and have the same benificial effect on plants, soil and animals…including us. In fact, I just finished making a 4 liter batch that will be ready for me to drink in about 8 to 10 days.
That which we make in 250 gallon tanks if for injecting into our drip irrigation lines. For foliar sprays and as a starter for bokashi, we make in 55 gal barrels with a variety of mixtures but most often with only MM, molasses, milk or kefir. It ferments for 30 days or more before using. Blessings.
Thanks for the information. I have a couple of follow-up questions:
Does anyone have experience using this bio-liquid fertilizer with root crops, such as potato, or with rice fields? Are there any additional considerations to take into account?
Aside from the potential to burn leaves, are there any concerns (health concerns in particular) with application of this fertilizer to above ground produce or root crops soon to be harvested? I believe I read that application around the base of plants is better, but in case it gets on produce, does the fermentation time reduce or eliminate the potential for pathogens in the bio-liquid?
Thank you for these important questions! I’ve reached out to the ECHO West Africa Office who have been training and implementing bioliquid fertilizer for longer than we have in the ECHO Florida office. Hopefully they can get back to you about question 1.
I’ve referred your second question to our Research Associate who has been working more closely with bioliquid fertilizer in the recent past. We hope to get you answers/recommendations soon!
Great questions. My name is Guin, I’m a Research Assistant in the Ag division.
If you hope to replace your chemical fertilizers for your root crops you should avoid using any substitutes that would contain non-composted or fresh animal manure, at least four months prior to harvest. Root crops are in direct contact with soil and more susceptible to contamination by pathogens such as E. coli, listeria, salmonella, and other enteric bacteria found in animal manure used in biofertilizers, see:
ECHOs current recipe includes wood ash (wood ash contains potassium to increase water use efficiency by plants), nitrogen-rich tithonia leaves, and animal manure (a great source of nitrogen). However, bioliquid fertilizers can be composed of many different things. Commercial bioliquid fertilizers can use algae extract, bone meal, tested or sanitized manure, or even approved chemicals as a nitrogen source.
ECHO’s bioliquid fertilizer also states the user should have frequent stirring as a form of agitation that increases oxygen dispersal throughout the fertilizer. Higher amounts of oxygen decrease the growth of many pathogenic microbes commonly found in animal feces (manure). The wood ash also helps to raise the pH to above 7, because many pathogen microbes thrive in a pH of 5.2 to 6, see above literature for details.
Finally, another thing to consider about the frequency and amount of bio liquid fertilizer to use on root crops, relates to the specific need for larger roots than foliage. Higher amounts of N may increase foliage while compromising roots.
This is very helpful information. Thank you.