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Found some interesting recipes and/or info on the various N-P-K values of some common organic compounds. What do you use for inputs for your fish-less systems?

"Instructions for Preparing Organic Fertilizers
Organic fertilizers need not be expensive and can be made on your own. This recipe,
to the best of my knowledge, was created by Steve Solomon, founder of Territorial
Seed Company. All measurements are shown in terms of volume, not weight.
4 parts seed meal
1 part dolomite lime
1/2 part bone meal or 1 part soft rock phosphate
1/2 part kelp meal
1. Seed meal provides N and smaller amounts of P and K. Some states prohibit its use
in certified organic operations (not something a home grower needs to be
concerned about). Other options are afalfa meal, or rape/canola meal. The NPK
value of cottonseed meal is about 6-2-1. Bloodmeal can be substituted in place of
some seed meal, since it acts more quickly. Use three parts seed meal and one part
bloodmeal. Seed meals tend to be acidic, so lime is included to balance that.
Dolomite limestone is roughly half magnesium carbonate (MgCO3) and half calcium
carbonate (CaCO3). Calcitic limestone is pure calcium carbonate. Plants usually
need more Ca than Mg, therefore a mix of 2/3 dolomite lime and 1/3 calcitic lime
is recommended.
2. Bone meal and rock phosphate provide the bulk of the P component. Less bone
meal (NPK 0-10-0) is required since it releases its P more readily. The advantage of
using rock phosphate (NPK 0-3-0) is that it continues to contribute P to the soil over
many years. Bone meal is produced as a byproduct of the beef industry while rock
phosphate is mined.
3. Kelp meal (NPK 0-0-10) contributes K and micronutrients. It tends to be more
expensive than the other components. Another possible K source is Jersey
greensand. It has the same advantages and liabilities as rock phosphate (very slow
release) but does not supply micronutrients. Wood Ash is also a plentiful, viable source of K.
Formulas for Balanced, All-Purpose Organic Fertilizer, Fertilizer Ratio
Fertilizer Ratio (N-P2O5-K2O) Ingredients:


2-3.5-2.5  -1 part bone meal
3 parts alfalfa hay
2 parts greensand


2.5-2.5-4 - 3 parts granite dust
1 part dried blood
1 part bone meal
5 parts seaweed


4-5-4 - 2 parts dried blood
l part phosphate rock
4 parts wood ashes


3.5-5.5-3.5 - 2 parts cotton seed meal
1 part colloidal phosphate
2 parts granite dust


0-5-4 - 1 part phosphate rock
3 parts greensand
2 parts wood ashes


2-8-3 -  3 parts greensand
2 parts seaweed
1 part dried blood
2 parts phosphate rock

Substance Nutrient:       Elements Supplied:


Organic
Blood meal                   15% N, l.3% P, 0.7% K
Dried blood                   12% N, 3.0% P, 0% K
Bone meal                    3.0% N, 20.0% P, 0% K, 24 to 30% Ca
Cottonseed meal           6% N, 2 to 30% P, 2% K
Fish emulsion, fish meal 10% N, 4 to 6% P, 1% K
Hoof and horn meal        14% N, 2% P, 0% K
Leatherdust, leather meal 5.5 to 22% N, 0% P, 0% K
Kelp meal, liquid seaweed 1% N, 0% P, 12% K


Minerals
Calcite, calcitic limestone 95 to 100% calcium carbonate
Colloidal phosphate or soft
omission                             0% N, 18 to 20% P, 27% Ca, 1.7% iron phosphate, silicas, 14 other trace elements
                                      
Dolomite, dolomitic
limestone
51% calcium carbonate, 40% magnesium carbonate
Granite dust, granite meal,
crushed granite minerals      0% N, 0% P, 3 to 5% K, 67% silica, 19 trace

Greensand, glauconite          0% N, 10% P, 5 to 7% K, 50% silica, 18 to 20% iron
oxide, 22 trace minerals
Gypsum (calcium sulfate)      23 to 57% C, 17.7% S
Langbeinite                           0% N, 0% P, 22% K, 22% S, 11% Mg
Rock phosphate                    0% N, 22% P, 0% K, 30% Ca, 2.8% Fe, 10% silica, 10
other trace minerals
Sulfur                                    100% S


Manures
Composted cow manure          2% N, 1% P, 1% K
Guano (bat)                            8% N, 40% P, 29% K average, but varies widely, 24 trace
minerals
Guano (bird)                           13% N, 8% P, 20% K, 11 trace minerals

Rabbit                                    2.4%N, 1.4%P, 0.6%K

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Replies to This Discussion

I concur, Vlad. Thanks for the research on fe2+ lifespan. Now I sure wish I could keep my pH at 6 without bottled acid. Oak leaves aren't cutting it, and they have to be tossed out quite frequently to maintain acid benefit without stink and decay. Haven't tried wood yet. Also may try barley straw. I understand that rotting barley straw produces lignen that generates hydrogen peroxide in the presence of light, enough to eliminate free floating algae and eventually knock down filament algae (I don't mind algae, just stated that to make a point that there is significant peroxide produced). Now that hydrogen peroxide may help keep pathogens out of water, and keep water clear, as well as acidifying it. I'm not sure how the biofilter would be affected by peroxide, but passing the water across an iron surface (immediately before the media) may destroy peroxide and yield a continuous stream of Fe2+ into the growbed. Eh?

Jon, one of the things I remember I kept coming across in hydroponic literature early on, is that Iron's role, (other than being essential in aiding certain energy transfers, and important in the formation of chlorophyll) is not fully understood yet. I believe this is due in part, because of the fact that Iron will form complexes with just about ANYTHING, This can sometimes be 'good', sometimes 'bad'. Now, in the case of organic acids this complexing with Iron, would seem to be 'good'.

Take a look at how Iron Gall inks are made...Iron(II) Sulfate (ferrous) is mixed with Oak galls (tannins), these tannins in effect chelate the Iron(II), meaning the tannins bind the Iron in a complex and keep it "stable" in its ferrous form. This stability does not last forever though. In the presence of oxygen and given enough time, the ferrous iron oxidizes to ferric iron, but not nearly as quickly as it would have otherwise (without the tannic acid). 

Now, long ago the acidity of the ink (ranging from lemon juice like pH to cup of coffee like pH) would cause a problem with certain types of paper...So people took to adding crushed eggshells to bring the pH up to around neutral. The ink was still stable and usuable (iron still in the ferrous state, bound to the tannic acid). 

Now research in the realm of groundwater treatment (which is highly location specific it seems) indicates that when ferrous iron rich water is  drawn into installed groundwater recovery and treatment systems, the oxygenation that takes place causes the soluble iron to react and precipitate into ferric iron, which then fouls up parts in the recovery and treatment systems (filters, screens, meshes). This seems to happen pretty quickly. (No tannins or chelating complexes).

As anecdotal as all this is, it seems to point in a good direction at least, as far as using organic acids like tannins, and any type of RSG filter in an AP setting. My earlier, original suspicions about the binding effects of tannins with iron now seem wrong. I now believe that it might actually be a 'good' thing.

Hydrogen peroxide would seem to oxidize your ferrous to ferric in a heartbeat though...

2 Fe+2 + H2O2 + 4 OH-  2 Fe (OH)3 (precipitate)

They used it at the steel plant I worked at here to treat wastewater. It causes the soluble ferrous to precipitate into ferric. It was then collected and sent back to sintering to be reclaimed and turned into blast furnace feed. So my first thought on the peroxide is that it would be an example of "bad" complexing.

Remind me again...why is it that your pH stays so high even with all the nitrification taking place? Was it your media? Or something else?


I don't know, Vlad. My well water has always been around 8-8.2, and without any influence, my AP stays 7.8 or so. So last night I calibrated a Hanna pH pen that has been laying around, not in use since last summer. And began to test several tanks, surprised to find that the pen showed every tank from 6.8-7.2, and my well water tested 7.0 with the pen. So I recalibrated it and tested all tanks about four more times. Each test with the pen was the same, +- .2, and each test with the API test kit was also the same, though much higher than the pen. Part of the trouble I think is the API division between high range and low range. So I tested a well water sample with both high and low, and they disagreed with each other, the low reading 7.2 and the high reading 7.8, while the pen tested 7.0 for the same sample. The API kit is fairly new, so I think I'll go buy some litmus strips over the weekend and see if they support the pen or the reagent kit.

The peroxide theory was a passing thought, assuming all acids are created equal, without researching it thru. Back to organic acids, then. I have left my growing idle the last few months, working on a new greenhouse and too busy to fight the mites and whiteflies that set up basecamp in my shop where I've kept tilapia through the winter. I'm getting pretty excited about breeding temperate species right now, may even abandon the tilapia altogether. Bluegill are beautiful, but I'm finding crappie and green sunfish to be much tougher fish. Green sunfish are a junk fish here in the US, used mostly to make hybrid bluegills. They get their bad rap from overbreedinh and stunting, and they are aggressive pescivores with large mouths. They seldom get over a half pound in lakes. But I think they may be great in Aquaponics, where breeding will be controlled by their own appetites, and they taste good like other sunfish. Similar story with crappie. I hope to have some experience under my belt by the end of this year, and some nice sized fish for the table.

What a ramble. That's a lot of fish talk for a Fishless forum :D

6.8 to 7.0 is not bad at all! It sure would be cool if that turns out to be a realistic system pH reading. I know nothing about the 'high - low' API test kit, since I have a regular old Tetra Test pH kit (reagent) and a Sibco Si (handheld) pH meter. The dinky test strips I have are crap, and I generally only use them to quickly gauge weather a new concoction is an acid or a base, but yours may be more accurate...

I'm assuming that your letting your well water sit out over night in a glass when looking to get a realistic reading of it's pH? Not doing so will often give you an un-realistic low pH reading since the carbon dioxide has not off-gassed yet. (Though if your only gauging  your API kit against the Hanna, and not looking for a real indication of your well waters pH, it shouldn't really matter).

Yeah, as far as acids and Iron goes, I'd pretty much stay away from anything with "blablaOxide" in the name...hehe

Get this...Hydrochloric acid plus Iron equals...Iron(II) Chloride plus a bit of hydrogen gas. Apparently, there will be two molecules of hydrochloric acid, whose parts will seperate. The hydrogens will bond together to create hydrogen gas, and the two chlorides will bond with the Iron. Since each Chloride has a -1 charge, and the Fe has a 2+ charge (two electrons) in its valance shell, these two electrons will each bond with one chloride. The Iron forms two bonds, one single bond to each chloride. Of course this doesn't take into account any other stuff that would be present in an AP environment, but still...And the chloride could be useful to the fish since it's usually added by people (in the form of NaCl) to help mitigate Nitrite toxicity... http://www-heb.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/congress/1994/tomasso.pdf    Just a thought should you need to ever add "bottled" acid....HCL seems much better than Phosphoric acid, or Nitric acid, or Sulfuric acid (or the pH Down product that the AP store sells which in addition to Phosphoric acid (the run-off of phosphate fertilizers are the major cause of algae blooms in our lakes and rivers) also contains Citric acid (anti-bacterial) and Ammonium (self explanatory) phosphate...

Man, mites and white flies eh? What a pain. I feel for you. I'm still trying to come up with a decent regimine of biological controls that wont end up costing an arm and a leg to implement.

Glad to hear you're getting into some temperate and/or native fish, sounds exciting. As a kid I used to love fishing for all three (crappie, blue gill, sunfish) and would get exited when I caught one that was actually big enough to throw on the fire (I'm sure I grilled up many that most people would pass on due to size, but I though they tasted great). Unfortunately, that seems to be all that I know about most fish, so I could sure use some 'fish talk'

Of course I'm hoping that my choice of using common carp will help mitigate (to an extent at least) my total lack of knowledge or experience with fish. People in this region love to eat them. (Seems to stem from a culture of medieval christian monks farming them in ponds and selling for use on Wednesdays and Fridays...go figure). At any rate, seems like they should be really hardy and hopefully will take some of the abuse that I will undoubtedly throw at them...I guess we'll see.   

Truth is bluegill and sunfish are perfectly harvestable size from about 4 oz on up.  6 oz or 1/3rd of a pound is a pretty standard harvest size for bluegill and if you are attempting to grow them all out to 1lb you may be in for a long wait to get to that weight.  Bluegill/sunfish etc they are good eating, they just take a little more work to eat around the bones when they are too small for a good fillet.  I too applaud using local/native fish.

Will be interested to hear what you figure out between the test kit, litmus paper and meter on the pH.  Does your meter adjust for temperature, apparently that affects reading as well so if the difference is always a standard deviation it might be due to temperature.  It would be really good if your systems were all really rock solid at 6.8-7.2.  I find with my hard water that 7.6 is a more common settling point with the calcium carbonate.

http://scienceinhydroponics.com/2010/05/preparing-your-own-chelates...

You might find this link interesting.  Daniel Fernandez is the author of HydroBuddy.  The ebook he refers to is no longer available because it has been replace by HydroBuddy.

When we add the chelating agent we do not add EDTA (the acidic form) but we add it as a salt of another element, usually K-EDTA. Once this is added to the solution the EDTA quickly gets rid of K and goes for another metal – such as Fe – for which it has a much higher affinity. The chelating agent quickly forms complexes with all the metals it loves and you end up with a solution that is highly stable and not prone to any micro nutrient related precipiation. How much do you need to add ? Depends on your formulation. The spreadsheet download with the ebook shows the amount of chelating agent (K-EDTA) you need to add to the END solution after all micro nutrient concentrated solution additions have been done (this amount fully complexes Fe, Mn, Zn and Cu).


Vlad Jovanovic said:

@Jon & @Carey, Now I definitely understand Carey's (and my own) apprehension on whether rusty iron would do a damn thing to help plants. I'm sure you noticed that my statement was "A couple grams of rusty nails helped too, i think"

....

It seems like most all nutrient formulas (manufacturers as well as formulas given for reagent mixing, are based largely in some way or another on two formulas that appeared in the 1950 California Agricultural Experiment Station Circular 347, authored by a Dr.'s Hoagland and Arnon. We are now finding that the distinguished gentlemen were 'over doing it a bit' with the nutes. Not detrimental to plants, but certainly not efficient use of reagents either...And (even though subsequent research says that the 2-3ppm is iron ispretty solid) that got me thinking...What all did people use for iron in hydro formulations BEFORE chelates existed? Turns out, all sorts of stuff...and some of it was ferric? Iron sulfate (ferrous) FeSO4-7H2O, iron sulfate (ferric) Fe2(SO4)3, iron (ferric) chloride, FeCl3•6H2O, iron ammonium sulfate, FeSO4(NH4)2SO4•6H2O and two organic iron compounds that I've come across, iron citrate and iron tartrate...I have no idea how exactly in a sterile hydro environment any of those ferric compounds are reduced to ferrous ones? But, as a general rule it seems (at least it is written) to take twice as much of the above mentioned compounds than the already chelated forms of iron. It seems that the chemistry of iron in a nutrient solution and its uptake by plants is really quite complex (even for 'the experts' and especially for someone like me).  Again, the filings were (and now, are) being added in the off chance that even the tiniest bit of it is being reduced to a ferrous, plant available form.

....

Hey Peter. I'm curious if you ever experimented with the geotube mineralization idea. 

Peter Shaw said:

I dont think you are missing anything, the idea that media beds do this and deep raft systems have to pull out the solids to keep the system "clean".

One researcher has put the solids from the deep rafts into geotubes right in the rafts and the mineralized nutrients to return to the system.

This is what I am working on.


Alexandre Letellier said:

If I understand what you guys are saying, you can't add the organic fertilizer in the system because the bacteria need to transform it before it's usable by the plants and by the time that happens it would hurt the fishes... So could it possible to have a small fish-less and may be even plant-less system on the side, mostly media and a water circulation and aeration system where you could put your fertilizer, let the microbes do the conversion/break down to the ionic form, then, after proper testing, take some of this water and put in the system that has the fishes to fertilize it ? The same amount of water would be taken out of the fish-system first and put back in the fish-less "fertilizer-processing" system for another enrichment round... Basically it would be like having a system that makes an AP fertilizer in the form of nutrient rich AP water. Or is it that even after break down in the fish-less fertilizer breakdown system this water would still be harmful to the fishes ? What am I missing ? 

Wow, what a heavy topic.

Been doing a great deal of back of the brain planning for my own version of a fishless system so I just joined your discussion. I plan on setting up an organic compost tea barrel or ibc using the high aeration method and cycling that thru 2 - 4 ibc media beds this Summer. Lots of good vids on the organic compost tea on YT so I'll spare you.

One other thought is why all the talk about nails. Wouldn't cast iron like broken up flue dampers be a far better primary source of pure iron than a nail made of steel? I may try a separate anaerobic digestor for that process based upon posts above. Anaerobes are far better for many things including breaking down cellulose, btw. and are part of my Dad's patents on solid waste composting. We even incorporated an anaerobic section in our recycling toilet back in the 70's for rapid breakdown of TP after a thorough grinding.

Some of the most productive (and cheapest) systems I've ever run...ran on worm casting/compost tea, humonia (and as of after I started this thread, I've only been using dehydrated sea water for trace elements in any and all of my systems...just some salt picked of of the rocks on the coast). 

Somewhere along the line of the thread the term "rusty nails", and then just "nails" became a substitute word for ferric iron (Fe3+). I actually have lots of rusty metal shaving from the lathe, but still say 'rusty nails'...just 'cuz they're such a common item I suppose...Anyways...

Probably any (esp fine powdery) rust is fine...whatever the source, iron oxide is iron oxide. But yeah sure, old cast iron flue dampers are probably great... 

Yeah, any kind of anaerobic or anoxic environment should be good for redoxing ferric to ferrous...Now keeping it ferrous in an oxygenated (AP) environment is a whole 'nother matter 

Oh I've read other threads elsewhere where they advised to use nails seriously so it sounded familiar. Been meaning to throw some cast iron scraps into the fill well of the GBs. Can't hurt. But I see the battle there. Interesting. Hell if we had all the answers it would take all the fun out of it.

Vlad Jovanovic said:

Some of the most productive (and cheapest) systems I've ever run...ran on worm casting/compost tea, humonia (and as of after I started this thread, I've only been using dehydrated sea water for trace elements in any and all of my systems...just some salt picked of of the rocks on the coast). 

Somewhere along the line of the thread the term "rusty nails", and then just "nails" became a substitute word for ferric iron (Fe3+). I actually have lots of rusty metal shaving from the lathe, but still say 'rusty nails'...just 'cuz they're such a common item I suppose...Anyways...

Probably any (esp fine powdery) rust is fine...whatever the source, iron oxide is iron oxide. But yeah sure, old cast iron flue dampers are probably great... 

Yeah, any kind of anaerobic or anoxic environment should be good for redoxing ferric to ferrous...Now keeping it ferrous in an oxygenated (AP) environment is a whole 'nother matter 

I recently learned that in soil Mycorrhizae fungus transport nutrients such as phosphorous, copper, calcium, magnesium, zinc and iron back to the plant's rhizoshere, and change the ion state of these trace elements while doing so.  These fungi can grow 40 micrometers per second in soil.   I imagine they could become established in the grow media, but I wonder how this relationship works in a DWC raft.  This may be why aquaponic systems seem to have more trouble with nutrient deficiencies than soil based gardens.



Vlad Jovanovic said:

Some of the most productive (and cheapest) systems I've ever run...ran on worm casting/compost tea, humonia (and as of after I started this thread, I've only been using dehydrated sea water for trace elements in any and all of my systems...just some salt picked of of the rocks on the coast). 

Somewhere along the line of the thread the term "rusty nails", and then just "nails" became a substitute word for ferric iron (Fe3+). I actually have lots of rusty metal shaving from the lathe, but still say 'rusty nails'...just 'cuz they're such a common item I suppose...Anyways...

Probably any (esp fine powdery) rust is fine...whatever the source, iron oxide is iron oxide. But yeah sure, old cast iron flue dampers are probably great... 

Yeah, any kind of anaerobic or anoxic environment should be good for redoxing ferric to ferrous...Now keeping it ferrous in an oxygenated (AP) environment is a whole 'nother matter 

I've seen evidence in my systems of something going on in media beds where the plants seem to have better access to limited nutrients while plants in raft beds or NFT are showing more signs of deficiency.  And I wasn't running any really long monster runs of raft or nft to deplete trace nutrients simply due to the long runs.  I have seen Mycorrhizae in my media beds.  Especially in beds that are timed flood and drain and get a better "dry" period between flooding.

This is another reason I like mixed or hybrid systems with a little of everything (or at least a little of everything appropriate to your situation/climate.)  You can choose which plants thrive best in different methods of the system to balance space and materials needs/availability with what grows well where and labor/marketing considerations as well as ease of maintenance system balance.

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