Just in time for the upcoming holiday season, a time when households are experimenting with lots of new recipes, comes something for our farmer friends — a recipe for organic, fish-derived nitrogen.Fish

A few weeks ago, when we were putting together our latest special report, “Getting More From Your Nitrogen Investment,” one of the articles asked for no-tiller input on best application practices. In a heartfelt response from India, Srinivasa Reddy Kunuthur, a professor in Anantapur, sent along his tried and true recipe for liquid nitrogen.

“Nitrogen in its organic form is the key/crucial factor in efficient nutrient management. It could be in solid or liquid form, it doesn’t matter,” Kunuthur says. “The spraying of fish in a liquid organic form once every 10 days is a boon to enrich any crop with nitrogen. It is also very easy to prepare in the right form.”

Knowing that our no-till friends are inquisitive and experimental by nature, I thought that it would be an appropriate time to share. So here, with minor adjustments and a few conversions from metric, is Kunuthur’s recipe.

The ingredients:

  1. Fish, small in size and black in color.
  2. Sharp knife 
  3. Wooden tray
  4. Jaggery (a brown sugar/molasses mix may be substituted)
  5. Sprayer
  6. Filter
  7. Plastic drum, 50-gallon capacity
  8. Water
  9. Bamboo stick

To prepare:

  1. Cut 22 pounds of fish into 2-inch bits, placing it in the drum
  2. Add 22 pounds of jaggery, powdered well
  3. Mix thoroughly with a bamboo stick for 5 minutes continuously twice a day (with a gap of at least 8 hours) for 7 days.

“On the 8th day, take out (2 pints) of the fish extract and dilute with (25 gallons) of water. Filter this and fill up the spray tank,” he says. “Spray on any crop of your choice to supply nitrogen. Try this formulation and witness the crop after 3 days.”

Just stating the obvious, but you’ll need a readily-available source of fish or fish by-products to make this happen. And since jaggery isn’t common to the U.S., use a sugar/molasses substitute that’s available online. If nothing else, it might give you the perfect excuse to do some post-planting fishing next spring, right?