One of the things that we love about alpacas is how efficient and eco-friendly they are. Without using much land or food, they produce pounds and pounds of soft, warm, hypoallergenic, flame-retardant (yes!) fluff and even more pounds of fertilizer good for gardens or crops.
Some alpaca farmers refer to their animals’ manure as “magic beans.” That’s because the poo pellets that alpacas produce are prized as fertilizer, particularly by experienced or niche gardeners.
All fertilizer is made of a balance of three major nutrients—nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nitrogen is important for the development of protein and helps leaves grow lush and green. Phosphorus helps plants photosynthesize. Potassium helps defend against disease and assists plants in developing strong root structures.
Most manure is very high in nitrogen and if placed directly on crops can “burn” the plants—causing brown spots and stunted leaves. Alpaca manure, by contrast, has a lower nitrogen content and is thus considered a “cool” fertilizer that you can mix straight into beds or use under mulch around your trees. Alpaca manure is about average in its potassium and phosphorus content.
Although you can use alpaca manure mixed in with your garden soil on its own without “burning” your plants, it is best practice to compost all manures before applying them to food crops. You can also steep the beans in water, creating “alpaca tea” and apply the liquid to your garden beds. Doing so helps to break down the hard pellets for better absorption.
There are plenty of options for how to use alpaca beans and the benefits for your garden are wonderful. In addition to being healthy for your soil, alpaca manure is relatively odor free, and lightweight—if you’ve ever cleaned up after a horse or cow, you know what a bonus that is!
Plus, picking up some beans can come with the chance to say “hello” to the source of your fertilizer. At Sol Homestead, you can buy our “magic beans” for the low, low price of $1/pound with free local pickup or an added $5 for delivery in the Denver/Boulder metro areas. Contact us to buy our alpaca manure by the pound for your garden. (For a limited time, you can even get some aged horse manure for free–local pickup only!)