What Are the Benefits of Guano Fertilizer?

Rocks stained with guano from sea birds.
Guano fertilizer is added to soil to enhance its nutrient content.
A farmer spreading guano fertilizer.
Guano fertilizer pellets.
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  • Written By: O. Parker
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Images By: Stefan Krasowski, Ekaterina Garyuk, n/a, Doug Beckers
  • Last Modified Date: 21 March 2014
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Guano fertilizer is organic, sustainable, and provides plants with complete nutrition. Not just a fertilizer, guano is ideal for starting seeds and rooted cuttings as well. Using guano fertilizer in the garden also improves soil texture and drainage, and the high organic matter content adds to the soil for long-term improvement.

Guano is the excrement of bats and sea birds. The name originates with the Incas who used the term to describe sea bird dung, but modern usage includes bat dung under the same term. In the mid 1800's, guano was used extensively in agricultural practices in the United States.

Guano fertilizer is a naturally derived fertilizer that is suitable for organic growing practices. When growing plants organically, growers cannot use chemical fertilizers, but plants still need nutrition to grow. Using an organic, naturally derived fertilizer such as guano gives the plants the nutrition they need. In addition, guano provides complete nutrition for plants in concentrations higher than many other organic fertilizers. Higher concentration means fewer applications, saving time and money for the gardener.


When used to build up soil, guano fertilizer improves poor soil by adding organic matter and improving the drainage and moisture retention. Reaching a balance between moisture retention and good drainage is important; if the soil drains too fast, the plants will dry out too quickly. Alternately, if the soil to dense and compacted, it will hold water, and few plants can survive in heavy, wet soil conditions. Adding guano to the soil improves moisture retention in sandy soil and improves drainage in heavy clay soil.

Natural compounds in guano fertilizer also attack and destroy nematodes. Nematodes are microscopic animals that live in the soil and include a variety of species. By eliminating nematodes, guano fertilizer helps to protect plant root systems and, in turn, increases the ability of roots to absorb nutrients from the soil or planting medium.

Guano fertilizer also benefits soil by controlling fungus. Fungus in the soil can affect the health of plants by attacking the root systems. Guano has natural anti-fungal properties.

As a natural fungicide and nematicide, guano fertilizer makes a good medium for starting seeds and rooting plant cuttings when a sterile environment is important. Soil microbes that can cause damage to the developing systems easily damage plant seeds and cuttings. Using guano as a rooting or germination medium gives the seeds and cuttings necessary support, good drainage, and a sterile environment.


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