Diatomaceous earth is a versatile product and 100% natural, for animals and plants

The diatomaceous earth is a mineral extracted from the diatomite, which is a siliceous sedimentary rock formed by the accumulation of fossil diatoms in lakes and seas of the past. This sedimentary rock is easily extractable and sprayable and currently has a large number of uses both in industrial processes and in agriculture.

The diatoms are unicellular algae microscopic belonging class of Bacilonophyta and constitute a significant portion of the biomass of the planet earth, present in virtually all habitats where water is present, some studies estimate that over 20% of the oxygen of the planet is produced by these microorganisms.

Diatoms are the most numerous protists on the planet, new species of diatoms are discovered every year and it is estimated that the possible number of species can reach up to two million. The fossil evidence dates the appearance of diatoms during or before the Jurassic period, that is, between 150-200 million years.

One of the main characteristics of these diatom algae is that their cells are surrounded by a hard and porous exoskeleton called frustule that is made up almost entirely of silica crystals (hydrated silica oxide), and in turn, this structure is surrounded by various types of polysaccharides and proteins. As a curious fact, the structure of the frustule is genetically defined, which is why it is used for the taxonomic classification of diatoms.

Currently, there are two diatomaceous piles of earth, one intended for industrial use and the other that is allowed for use in crops.

  • Natural or uncalcined diatomaceous earth: it is considered inert powder, contains an average of 1% silica crystals and its use is approved for domestic agricultural use and in animal farms as an antiparasitic. Normally this diatomaceous earth useful in agriculture can be found in two ways, ground especially recommended for dusting, or micronized, for use in sprays diluted in water.
  • Calcined diatomaceous earth: this earth contains more than 60% silica crystals after pressure and calcination processes. This type of soil is toxic to mammals so its food use is not allowed, but it has a multitude of industrial uses ranging from its use for water filters for swimming pools to the production of dynamite.

Diatomaceous earth is used for both livestock and agriculture, and being a multipurpose product, the possibilities of use are multiplied in a farm.

sierra diatom: Agriculture and livestock

As we have told you, diatomaceous earth is an extremely versatile product, which due to its 100% natural origin is one of the most demanded inputs in the agricultural sector. Due to its low cost, high effectiveness, and is compatible with organic crops and bio livestock, diatomaceous earth is gaining weight in the agri-food environment.

The chemical composition of diatomaceous earth is essential for applications in both agriculture and livestock (Source: Wypych G., 2016):

How does diatomaceous earth work?

The diatomaceous earth has no insecticidal poisoning but dehydration. The outer layer of insects is lost by abrasion or absorption of the sharp edges of the small silica crystals that form diatoms, as the insect loses protection against water loss, desiccation occurs and dies.

This means that the action of diatomaceous earth is not chemical but physical, which means that, unlike other insecticides, it does not create resistance and also helps that its use can be extended to many areas since at the concentrations in which it is toxic to insects and is completely harmless to humans and other mammals.

These qualities make it an exceptional product for use in agriculture and can be used in agriculture. The products formulated with diatomaceous earth besides being recommended to struggle against crop pests are permitted for use inside and outside buildings and farms, and some products are also used in deworming pets.

INSECTICIDE: highlights its effectiveness as a   natural and ecological insecticide against insects (ants, bed bugs, and fleas)

Due to its mode of action, the spectrum of pests that diatomaceous earth can cope with is very wide so it can be used against all types of pests such as mites, spiders, snails, flies, mosquitoes, or aphids among others. The recommended mode of application is dusting at a dose of 1 kg / 100m 2, dusting the plant and the surrounding soil. For foliar application, it is recommended to dilute 10 g for each liter of water and spray trying to spray the entire plant.

The efficacy of diatomaceous earth for seed preservation has been demonstrated by various studies, in the study by Mazzuferi, VE et al. (2006), study the use of diatomaceous earth in the corn weevil ( Sitophiluszeamais ) concluding that pure diatomaceous earth with 80% of its particles smaller than 10 µm was a very useful product for the control of weevil in seeds. corn at a dose of 2kg. per ton of seed. The dose to be applied will depend on the crop, the richness of the product in diatomaceous earth, and mainly the particle size, although relative humidity and storage conditions are also factors to take into account.

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