Here's a little info on shellfish fertilizers that is really interesting. The chemical contained in shellfish shells
"chitin" is an amazing building block of fungi, insects, shellfish and other living creatures. Here are a few excerpts about
shellfish shell fertilizers and chitin's benefits for gardens.
Shellfish fertilizer or shell meal is made from crushed bones or shells from crab or other shellfish. It is a great source of
calcium in addition to phosphorus and many trace minerals. One benefit of shellfish fertilizer: it contains chitin which
encourages the growth of organisms that inhibit harmful pest nematodes.
Most recent studies point out that chitin is a good inducer for defense mechanisms in plants. It was recently tested as a
fertilizer that can help plants develop healthy immune responses, and have a much better yield and life expectancy. The EPA
regulates chitin for agricultural use within the USA. Chitosan is derived from chitin, which is used as a biocontrol elicitor
in agriculture and horticulture.
In agriculture, chitosan is used primarily as a natural seed treatment and plant growth enhancer, and as an ecologically
friendly biopesticide substance that boosts the innate ability of plants to defend themselves against fungal infections.The
natural biocontrol active ingredient, chitin/chitosan, are found in the shells of crustaceans, such as lobsters, crabs, and
shrimp, and many other organisms including insects and fungi. It is one of the most abundant bio-gradable materials in the
world. Degraded molecules of chitin/chitosan exist in soil and water. Chitosan applications for plants and crops are
regulated by the EPA and the USDA National Organic Program regulates its use on organic certified farms and crops. EPA
approved bio-degradable chitosan products are allowed for use outdoors and indoors on plants and crops grown commercially and
by consumers. The natural biocontrol ability of chitosan should not be confused with the effects of fertilizers or pesticides
upon plants or the environment. Chitosan active biopesticides represent a new tier of cost effective biological control of
crops for agriculture and horticulture.
The biocontrol mode of action of chitosan elicits natural innate defense responses within plant to resist against insects,
pathogens, and soil borne diseases when applied to foliage or the soil. Chitosan increases photosynthesis, promotes and
enhances plant growth, stimulates nutrient uptake, increases germination and sprouting, and boosts plant vigor. When used as
seed treatment or seed coating on cotton, corn, seed potatoes, soybean, sugar beet, tomato, wheat and many other seeds it
elicits an innate immunity response in developing roots which destroy parasitic cyst nematodes without harming beneficial
nematodes and organisms. Agricultural applications of chitosan can reduce environmental stress due to drought and soil
deficiencies, strengthen seed vitality, improve stand quality, increase yields, and reduce fruit decay of vegetables, fruits
and citrus crops. Horticultural applications of chitosan increases blooms, extends the life of cut flowers
and Christmas trees. The US Forest Service has conducted research on chitosan to control pathogens in pine trees, and
chitosan's ability to increase pine tree resin pitch-out flow by 40% to resist pine beetle infestation.
Chitosan has a rich history of being researched for applications in agriculture and horticulture dating back to the 1980s. By
1989 Bentech Labs patented chitosan salt solutions applied to crops for improved freeze protection or to crop seed for seed
priming. Shortly thereafter Bentech's chitosan salt received the first ever biopesticide label from the EPA. Numerous other
chitosan patents for plants soon followed. Chitosan applications to protect plants have been used in space as well. NASA
first flew a chitosan experiment to protect adzuki beans grown aboard the space shuttle and Mir space station in 1997 (see
photo left). NASA results revealed chitosan induces increased growth (biomass) and pathogen resistance due to elevated levels
of beta 1-3 glucanase enzymes within plant cells. NASA confirmed chitosan elicits the same effect in plants on earth. Over 20
years of R&D by DuPont/ConAgra Ventures (DCV) and AgriHouse Inc have gone into developing non-toxic low molecular weight
chitosan polymer solutions safe enough for broad spectrum agricultural and horticultural use.
In 2008, AgriHouse Inc, Denver,Colorado, was granted EPA natural broad spectrum elicitor status for YEA! Yield Enhancing Agent, a liquid solution containing an ultra low molecular active ingredient of 0.25% chitosan. YEA! is a next generation natural chitosan elicitor solution for agriculture and horticultural and was granted an amended label for foliar and irrigation applications by the EPA in June, 2009. A milliliter of YEA! contains over 14.4 X 10ął bio-active low molecular weight chitosan molecules and it is 600 times more effective than common chitosan.
Day 30: non-treated broccoli vs. YEA! (chitosan) treated broccoli (Research Trial by Colorado State University)
Given its low potential for toxicity and its abundance in the natural environment, chitosan does not harm people, pets, wildlife, or the' environment when used according to label directions. Agricultural chitosan facts are located on USDA and EPA web sites.