Bone meal

Bone meal

Bone meal is a mixture of crushed and coarsely ground bones that is used as an organic fertilizer for plants and formerly in animal feed. As a slow-release fertilizer, bone meal is primarily used as a source of phosphorus.

Bone meal once was often used as a human dietary calcium supplement. Research in the 1980s found that many bone meal preparations were contaminated with lead and other toxic metals, and it is no longer recommended as a calcium source.

As a fertilizer, the N-P-K ratio of bone meal is generally 4-12-0, though some steamed bone meals have N-P-Ks of 1-13-0. Bone meal is also an excellent organic source of calcium.

Organic fertilizers usually require the use of microbes/bacteria in the soil in order to make the nutrients in the fertilizer bio-available. That can result in irregular release of phosphorous/calcium. In sterile potting soil, there may be no microbes to release the nutrients.

Finely ground bone meal may provide quicker release than coarsely ground.

Phosphates do not easily pass through soil. So mixing the bone meal with the soil or putting it in the planting hole can help.

Bone meal is frequently used in preparing holes for blooming bulbs, for the phosphorous. It may help tomato plants prevent blossom end rot. However, blossom end rot can happen even though sufficient calcium is present if watering is irregular. High phosphorous fertilizers are also useful for transplant root growth.

Health risks

In the 1990s, bone meal was identified as a vector for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or "mad cow disease") among livestock. It is believed by some that bone meal produced in the 1970s from the corpses of sheep bearing scrapie caused BSE in cattle when it was fed to them, but the pathogen very rarely crosses species, so it is more likely to have spread from cow bone meal. Others believe that organophosphates may have triggered the bovine form of the disease.

ee also

*Blood meal
*Bone crusher


* [ PDRhealth entry on bone meal]
* [ BSE information from the Centers for Disease Control]
* [ BSE information from the Institute of Food Science and Technology]
* [ An alternative theory]
* [ BSE Enquiry]
* [ Definition, nutrient ratio of bone meal fertilizer]
* [ Pro's and Con's of Bone meal fertilizer]
* [ on bone meal and advantages of organic fertilizers]
* [ Opinions on bone meal's suitability as fertilizer]
* [ How much to apply, and on what plants]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • bone meal — bone′ meal or bone′meal n. agr. bones ground to a coarse powder, used as fertilizer or feed • Etymology: 1840–50, amer …   From formal English to slang

  • bone meal — bone ,meal noun uncount a substance made of crushed bones, used as food for animals or for helping plants to grow …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • bone meal — ☆ bone meal n. crushed or finely ground bones, used as feed for stock, as fertilizer, and as a nutritional supplement for humans …   English World dictionary

  • bone meal — noun : bone crushed or ground usually after extraction of fat and gelatin and used chiefly as a fertilizer but also in the feed of farm animals * * * Agric. bones ground to a coarse powder, used as fertilizer or feed. Also, bonemeal. [1840 50,… …   Useful english dictionary

  • bone meal — also bonemeal N UNCOUNT Bone meal is a substance made from animal bones which is used as a fertilizer …   English dictionary

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  • bone meal — kaulamilčiai statusas T sritis chemija apibrėžtis Malti kaulai. atitikmenys: angl. bone meal rus. костяная мука …   Chemijos terminų aiškinamasis žodynas

  • bone meal — ground bones of animals and fish, high in calcium and phosphorus, and used in fish feeds and as a plant fertiliser. May pollute waters because of the high phosphorus content and so not used as extensively as in the past …   Dictionary of ichthyology

  • bone meal — Agric. bones ground to a coarse powder, used as fertilizer or feed. Also, bonemeal. [1840 50, Amer.] * * * …   Universalium

  • bone meal — noun Ground bones used as a slow release fertilizer, especially for bulbs …   Wiktionary

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