Diatoms are fossilized algae that are used in the form of soil and with different uses, such as organic and natural fertilizers or ecological insecticides for crops, among many other common uses. Since they are used in the form of white lands, they are also called White Lands. Therefore, it is a very beneficial natural fertilizer for soils.
In this article, we will talk about what diatomaceous earth is and what it is for, focusing mainly on the field of gardening.
What are diatoms or diatomite
Diatoms ( Diatomeae ) are single-celled algae that are part of marine phytoplankton . Currently, some 20,000 living species are known and they are an important constituent of the marine food chain. Although Diatoms are unicellular algae , they can be found forming colonies in filaments or ribbons (eg Fragillaria ), zigzag structures (eg Tabellaria ), stellate colonies (eg Asterionella ) or fans (eg Meridion ).
One of the most important characteristics of these organisms and that gives them a large part of their properties as a fertilizer , is their cell wall of opaline silica (hydrated silicon dioxide), known as frustule. These walls have a great variety of shapes that give them different aspects to the microscope, although in general they consist of two asymmetric parts with a division between them, which is what gives the group its name.
The fossil finds suggest that diatoms have their origin during or after the early Jurassic . In addition, the communities of these organisms are frequently used to study environmental conditions, climate change or evaluate the quality of waters.
What is diatomaceous earth
How are diatoms transformed into soil? As we have mentioned, Diatoms formed the marine phytoplankton thousands of years ago, in Prehistory, but they were not only present in the seas, but also in fresh water. Therefore, Diatoms are one of the first organisms that inhabited the Earth.
Over time, as the seas and lakes dried up, these algae formed settlements on their bottoms and, with the accumulation of layers of land over time, continued to fossilize their silica exoskeletons . It is for this reason that we can find Diatoms under various layers of earth in various places where there was a sea or lake before. Due to their high content of organic silicon and calcium, they acquire that white earth coloration .
What is diatomaceous earth or diatomite for: its uses
Now that you know what diatomaceous earth is and what exactly these are, we will tell you what diatomaceous earth is for. The most common uses for diatomaceous earth are as follows, although there are many more:
Diatomaceous earth can be used as an effective ecological and natural insecticide. It is very effective in getting rid of the annoying insects that attack and harm many of our crops, especially in warm seasons.
Deworming and food supplement
What is diatomaceous earth for other than being an ecological insecticide? Well, this use may surprise you a bit, but it is used in animals and even people use it.
Thus, a lesser known use of diatomaceous earth is its use to eliminate parasites that harm the health of our animals. Yes, diatomaceous earth is very useful to eliminate fleas that parasitize our cats or dogs in the summer seasons or to eliminate parasites from small pens or chicken farms. In addition, it can be used as a food supplement and is effective in eliminating intestinal parasites from our pets. We can also take it ourselves for the same purposes, but as long as it is its version suitable for consumption.
Ecological and natural fertilizer
Diatomaceous earth is a perfect fertilizer for farmland. On the one hand, it provides nutrients, such as calcium or silicon, which are very beneficial for the soil and, on the other, it improves cation exchange, facilitating the absorption of nutrients by the soil, improving the level of soil aeration, its sponginess and water retention .
Although cultivated soils already have their macronutrients, if we do not have the presence of some micronutrients, the plants will not be able to assimilate them. Diatomaceous soils provide important micronutrients to the soil and allow plants to assimilate other macronutrients present in the soil. In particular, diatomaceous earth helps the assimilation of phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium.
In addition, as diatomaceous earth is a natural product without additives, we will also be contributing to improve the health of the soil.
Diatomaceous earth nutrients for gardening and agriculture
The diatomaceous earth or diatomite brings to a total of 40 mineral nutrients , of which 6 are considered essential primary and secondary in agriculture and 13 are primary and secondary trace elements. Some of these nutrients are:
- Calcium carbonate
- Lime sulfate
Diatomaceous earth dosage
A very frequent question is knowing what is the indicated dose of diatomaceous earth for garden and cultivation and for human consumption and for animals. The best thing is that you contact a specialist who will advise you depending on the case, for example on the site where you are going to buy diatomaceous earth, but in Green Ecology we give you an orientation of the most common dose of diatomaceous earth for the garden and crops and for other common uses :
Diatomaceous earth dosage for garden and crops
To use it as a dusted fertilizer, use a mixture of the substrate or soil soil with diatomite in a proportion of 40 or 50 g of diatomite for every m2 of garden soil. To use it in a spray form, use 40g per liter.
To control terrestrial pests, use 100 g of diatomite for each m2 of soil and for aerial pests use between 10 g and 40 g of this soil for each liter of water to spray, adjusting the dose according to the size of the pest.
Diatomaceous earth dose for human consumption
There are two types of diatomaceous earth, food grade diatomaceous earth and non-food grade diatomaceous earth. So if you are looking for this product for human consumption, make sure that the packaging indicates that it is food grade and, therefore, suitable.
The best thing is that if you decide to take it, talk to your regular doctor about the most appropriate dose for you, since depending on your usual diet and your general health, this may vary. In addition, it is necessary to follow the indications regarding the dose or dosage indicated on the packaging, since it is recommended by the manufacturer of this product for human consumption. As an average idea, the usual thing is to take a teaspoon a day and take it for a maximum of 30 days in a row.
Diatomaceous earth dosage for animals
In the case of animals, the dose can vary greatly depending on the species, so it is always better to follow the instructions of the veterinarian who usually monitors the health of the animal you want to treat with this natural product.
As an example, the dose of diatomaceous earth for chickens as an external antiparasitic is a 2% solution in water, as an internal antiparasitic and nutritional supplement 5% of the food dose is mixed. In the case of the dose of diatomite for cats, this is 1/2 teaspoon for puppy cats for a month and two teaspoons twice a day for a month for adult cats. Finally, the dose of diatoms for dogs is indicated for the treatment of one month and the daily dose by weight is indicated. If the dog weighs less than 4.5 kg it is necessary to give it between 1/2 and a teaspoon, if it weighs between 4.5 kg and up to 8.5 kg two teaspoons, between 9 kg and 22.5 kg the dose is one tablespoon to a tablespoon and a half,
Where to buy diatomaceous earth
If you want to buy diatomaceous earth to use in your garden or orchard, or for your animals or own consumption, we recommend that you go to stores specializing in gardening and agricultural products . You can find this product both in physical stores, and in online stores that can take the material you buy to your home.
In addition, we advise you to follow the instructions for use on the container, since depending on the brand some aspects of its use may change, and that you also follow the recommendations of the gardening specialist who sells you the product in the store.