cows in field

The Benefits Of Using Fish and Seaweed Products To Feed Your Forage Crops

Forage & Grains

By Ann Malloy

Added April 1, 2012

Why does Fish work so well as a Fertilizer?

The continued application of chemical fertilizers over the years on many of our agricultural lands have resulted in the depletion of many soil elements and a reduction in the biological life within the soil profile. The whole world was under ocean water at one time; fish fossils have even been found on the top of Mt. Everest. Ever since then, the soil has been de-mineralizing. The best Fish fertilizers come from fish that are caught well off shore, in the cold, dark, clean, mineral rich North Atlantic Ocean. These fish contains all the nutrients that our agricultural plants and soil need naturally.

Cold-processed hydrolyzed fish vs. a fish emulsion

Hydrolyzed Fish consists of freshly ground up fish remains: the head, skeleton, skin and fins. When a fish is caught, only 30 to 40% is used for human consumption as the fillet and 60 to 70% (what is left) is turned into Fertilizer. This is a perfect way to utilize 100% of the Fish. The remains are liquefied, stabilized, and screened through a 150 micron screen, so that it can be used through a sprayer for easy application. The liquid plant food is loaded with enzymes, macro and micro nutrients, trace elements, amino acids, vitamins, omega oils and naturally occurring growth promoters. The general NPK analysis for Hydrolyzed Fish is 2-4-1 and the nutrients, if sprayed on the plant as a foliar feed, are absorbed by the leaves and go straight to the roots, because the Fish is systemic. Also, the nitrogen in the Fish is chelated, so it can be utilized by the crop, the day it is applied. In a hydrolyzed fish product, all the oils and fish meal remains in the product as well. Fish emulsion is made from one species of Fish; Menhaden, which is mostly caught in the Gulf of Mexico. The meal is removed for pet food, and then oil is removed for Fish Oil products. The waste water left behind after these two processes, is then boiled down to a 50% solution, and sold as Fish Emulsion. It smells really bad, and is notorious for clogging sprayers. The typical NPK is 5-1-1 or 4-1-1. If you see a Fish with a nitrogen content higher than 2, it has been cooked down, or fortified.

What can farmers expect when they use
hydrolyzed fish on their hay and pasture?

Hydrolyzed fish not only increases yield, it also increases the RFV (relative feed value) making a nutrient dense crop, and healthier animals. Livestock have been found to utilize the nutrients in their foliar-fed forages more completely when compared to crops fertilized with conventional fertilizer. One farmer even wrote to our company stating that when they fed the fish-fertilized hay to their cattle, daily dry matter needs decreased by 50% and mineral needs decreased by 80%, all the while maintaining body condition score of 4.

Manure has been found to break down in about 1/2 the time, which cycles the nutrients into the soil faster. This enhanced biological activity is also noticed by an increased population of dung beetles and reduced fly populations.

Why does Seaweed work so well on fields and pastures?

Seaweed is an organic storehouse of over 60 naturally occurring major and minor nutrients and amino acids. It's growth promoting substances (Auxins, Cytokinins, Gibberellins) enhance plant development, color and vigor. Seaweed has also been found to increase plant hardiness and resistance to adverse environmental conditions, such as early frost, extreme heat and lack of moisture. Used as a seed inoculant, seaweed fertilizer increases and accelerates germination, and enhances the rapid development of a healthy root system. Seaweed is an excellent addition to any fertilization program.

How much does it cost to use?

Based upon recommended application rates, the cost for applying Hydrolyzed Fish is about $10.00/acre per application. For best results, it is recommended that the product be applied after each harvest/grazing or a minimum of 3 applications per year.

Ann Molloy is one of the owners of Neptune's Harvest Fertilizer along with 4 of her siblings, and 2 cousins. This family run business in Gloucester, MA is a division of Ocean Crest Seafoods, and came about as a way to fully utilize the fish they were processing. Ann can be reached at Learn more at, or call (800) 259-4769.