Documents: Feature Article:

Bone Meal – Still A Good Organic Fertilizer
by Charlie Dobbin
by Charlie Dobbin

Charlie Dobbin, B.Sc. (Agr), is well known horticultural expert with professional gardening experience in a wide range of areas.

Her love of gardening and her easy manner is evident in her delivery of all her gardening seminars. She has a natural enthusiasm that makes her demonstrations both informative and fun.

Charlie was the Editor and Feature Writer of the White Rose Yard & Garden Guide. This company has now ceased to exist.

April 15, 2001

People’s attitudes towards bugs, the insect and microbial kinds, can vary from nonchalance to outright panic. Much of our opinion is uninformed, emotional or based on wild assumptions. There are always several factors involved in every “bug” problem and we must learn to weigh all sides of the coin.
Bone meal, as we well know, is ground up bones of livestock. Normally, this statement alone would initiate huge concern in view of the present crisis in England. However, lets look at a few facts.
At present, there is no incidence of the virus in North America. Livestock is inspected and the feed supply is also closely monitored which means one of the ways of transmitting the disease (un-inspected animal remains) is not a viable occurrence. One of the most important points however is that all our bone meal is 100% North American and this is a very significant distinction because of the differences in the rendering process between North America and Europe. The rendering process (ie: the process whereby bones are stripped from the animal and processed into bone meal) used in North America kills all fungi, parasites, bacteria and viruses that cause disease. So, with that important fact in hand, we can be relatively assured that the chances of foot-and-mouth disease slipping into our bone meal fertilizer in North America, is extremely unlikely.
Bone meal has been an accepted natural source of nitrogen and phosphorous for many years. For those who like to use organic fertilizers as opposed to chemical ones, it is our responsibility to review the facts and make a value judgement. Do not throw away a good organic fertilizer on hearsay. To change good, environmentally sound choices on an assumption, is not being an educated gardener.
Some trust must also be placed in the authorities overseeing the health of our animal stock. This is not just a government responsibility (in case you have no faith in your governing agencies) but also a huge multi-million dollar agri-business where the dollar is all important. This factor alone precludes any notion you may have that anything that threatens the livestock industry would not be thoroughly evaluated. 

Charlie Dobbin, B.Sc.(Agr), is a horticultural expert from White Rose Home & Garden Centres


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