A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

March 25, 2008

Planting with Pacas

Gerri from Australia had posted a comment to the blog the other day expressing an interest in learning more about the use of alpaca poop as fertilizer and using alpaca fiber as mulch.  With spring here and the warm weather trying to make a return I thought it a good time to write a little about using alpaca by-products in the garden.

Alpaca poop can be used almost like a slow release fertilizer.  If the poop is not composted it takes a while to break down, but that can be used to your advantage if you are looking for a fertilizer that will release over time.  When using uncomposted alpaca poop we make sure that it is covered over by dirt so as not to attract flies.  We also try to get the poop that does not have too much vegetable matter in it so that we don’t inadvertently grow something undesirable such as burrs.

The composition of alpaca poop is usually similar to this:

Organic matter  70.8 %
Nitrogen 1.49 %
Phosphorus 0.23 %
Potassium 1.6 %
Calcium 0.91 %
Magnesium 0.45 %
Sodium 0.12 %
Total Salts 2.54 %

Of course this composition could vary, depending on what you feed your alpacas, but those figures will give you a basic idea of what alpaca poop can contribute to your garden.

I am told that alpaca poop does not burn the garden like horse manure and so far that has been my experience.  I have not had any problem with the plants where I have used alpaca poop as a fertilizer, although I must say by the time we clean up the poop in the morning most of the urine has dried off it.  If the poop you intend to use is heavily soaked in urine you might want to allow it to dry off for a little while as the urine could scald your plants.

Even better than straight alpaca poop is composted alpaca poop.  There are various ways to compost it ranging from a specifically designed compost barrel to digging trenches in the ground and putting your compost material in the trenches.  The trench method was explained to me by another alpaca breeder from California who has the same type of sandy soil that we have, and also a lack of moisture and high winds like ours.  By building your compost pile in a trench you can prevent the wind from sucking all the moisture out of the compost pile and also easily collect any moisture you do receive.  That same breeder also uses concrete horse troughs to create compost in.  She layers old straw and alpaca poop in the horse troughs and leaves it over winter, by spring it is ready to plant in and she reports she gets great results from it.  Now for any composting to happen there has to be some moisture involved so if you are going through a dry spell you will need to add water to your compost pile.  Don’t forget you can also add all sorts of other goodies to your compost pile to help it compost such as egg shells, shredded uncoated paper, dried bread, old fruit and vegetables, burn pile ashes, garden clippings, even dryer lint!  Remember too to turn your compost pile periodically.

I will readily admit that I am not the worlds authority on gardening, but when even I can successfully grow plants using alpaca poop and composted alpaca poop it has to say something for the great qualities of the alpaca poop.

Tomorrow I will write about using alpaca fiber as mulch, something I tried for the first time last year and which was so successful that I will be using more this year.

Rosemary

2 Comments »

  1. Thank you for the information. I helped my 12 year old granddaughter find the info she needed for a report on fertilizer. she needed the composition of the chemicals in natural fertilizer and since we have alpacas she is learning alot at her age. Thanks again!
    Dr. Mel

    Comment by mel robinson — October 18, 2009 @ 11:02 pm

    • Hello Dr. Mel,

      So glad to hear that my blog was able to help your granddaughter. I hope her report on fertilizer worked out well. It’s lovely to hear that your granddaughter is learning a lot about alpacas, she is at a great age to be involved with them and I am sure she is a big help to you.

      I hope you continue to enjoy my blog.

      Rosemary

      Rosemary and Ric Metcalf Windrush Alpacas 770 Curry Road M Clovis, NM 88101

      Tel: 575 683 5177 http://www.windrushalpacas.com

      Check out our blog “A Taste of Life At Windrush Alpacas” Just click on the tab on our website http://www.windrushalpacas.com

      Comment by alpacalady — October 19, 2009 @ 8:26 am


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