Seagate’s artichoke farm uses drip irritation and fish fertilizer. Fertilizer does not have an expiration date. It is supposed to decompose.
This is the first time that we ever received a question concerning the shelf life of Fish Fertilizer. However, this question is valid and gives us the opportunity to discuss how fertilizers work.
A customer name Carolyn Thompson recently emailed this question:
What is shelf life of fish fertilizer? I purchased a container well over 2 years ago. Can I use it or should I purchase more?
Fertilizers do not have shelf lives. Shelf life and expiration dates are really for consumables such as foods, medicines, and supplements. Fertilizers are meant to disintegrate in the soil through bacterial and fungal decomposition. So if the fertilizer were to start breaking down in the container because perhaps you accidentally got some water in it, aside from a very strong rotting smell … this is actually a good thing. We want the fertilizer to decompose into its organic and mineral components. There is no problem using it even if it were 100 years after it had been bottled.
Seagate Customer Service
Seagate manufactures fertilizer and applies it to our own farms, besides selling it to the public. Some of our most enthusiastic farmers using the fish fertilizer are doing so in their backyard gardens:
The purpose of fertilizer is to add nutrients back into the soil that has been depleted. The main components of fertilizer are nitrogen, phosphorus, potash and other minerals. In our case, the nitrogen comes from cooked and dried fish that is ground up into small flakes and powder. The fish that we process are sardines as shown in the photo below. These are small schooling fish that live at the bottom of the food chain, eating plankton and small plants.
When the Fish Fertilizer is applied to the soil, it will immediately induce a rapid growth of bacteria and fungi that will begin to decompose the fish flakes and break them down into the basic nutrients that the plant can absorb, the nitrogen and minerals. In the presence of heat, moisture and oxygen, the bacterial and fungal action will increase dramatically. That is exactly the objective.
Therefore if you happen to have an old container of fertilizer that has a rotten smell or appears to have fungi already growing, due to incidental contamination from water, it is still good to apply to the soil, where these fungi and bacteria will thrive and do their job of decomposing dead plant matter. For certain crops like the artichoke pictured above, we sometimes add the fish into barrels of water and let it sit for weeks decomposing in water before we apply to the irrigation lines.
The anchovy school photo above was taken along a protected reef near Bonaire. These fish are fortunate to be in a protected zone and are not destined for either someone’s pizza or Seagate’s fertilizer.