Feed plants, lithotamnio is a calcareous flour obtained from a kind of red alga and therefore totally natural, in agriculture it can be used for different purposes and is particularly interesting in organic crops.
It is a very valid and versatile substance, with many uses: it is used in fertilization, in correcting the pH of acid soils and also in the defense of crops from parasites and diseases. It also has other positive functions, as we will discuss later. In the vegetable garden, for example, it is very useful as a fertilizer for tomatoes, since its calcium content helps prevent apical rot.
Let’s find out what lithotamn is and how we can best use it in our garden or orchard, making the most of its potential, without polluting the environment and aiming for satisfactory and qualitatively good harvests.
What is lithotamnio
Lithotamnio is a product of marine origin and of calcareous nature, on the market we find it in the form of flour, deriving from the very fine grinding of red calcareous algae of the Lithotamnium calcareum species, present in the coasts of Brittany. We may also hear it referred to simply as “calcareous algae meal”, or “algae limestone”.
The composition of lithotmanium is as follows: 80% calcium carbonate, 10-15% magnesium and a small percentage of other chemical elements, that is precious microelements that contribute to the nutrition of the soil.
This is why we can choose lithotamn as a natural fertilizer for the vegetable garden and, given its calcareous nature, as a corrector for acidic soils.
Uses of lithotamnium in agriculture
Lithotamn, used in agriculture, can be used both by distributing it in the soil as a fertilizer or to correct the pH that is too acidic, as well as a phytostimulant and in the prevention of some plant adversities.
It is not very cheap to buy, but fortunately there are small packages on the market, capable of satisfying the needs of small areas of land for private use.
Lithotamnium as a fertilizer
Thanks to its precious content of calcium, magnesium and microelements, we can use Lithotamnium in the natural fertilization of the soil, distributing it directly in thrifty handfuls on the surface that is cultivated or adding it to the compost heap, to which it brings microelements and also has the effect of reducing any bad odors.
If we want to use lithotamn to fertilize the garden we must not consider it a complete fertilizer, so it should not be used as a substitute for the classic manure, compost or dry manure, algae meal is rather an additional supplement that provides a series of useful microelements and in particular the aforementioned calcium and magnesium.
Its use as a fertilizer is particularly useful for tomato cultivation, in the prevention of apical rot, which occurs in conditions of calcium deficiency. Instead, be careful to dose the lithotamn very sparingly on land intended for acidophilic plants, such as berries, hydrangeas and citrus fruits.
This algae flour also stimulates the biological activity of the soil, and in fact is precious when there is the need to restore the vitality of heavily exploited land, for example from very intensive conventional cultivation.
Soil pH correction
The richness of calcium makes lithotamn a valid natural corrector of acid ph soils, raising it. It is therefore advisable not to abuse it in the case of alkaline soil, as we must not overdo it with wood ash, another natural fertilizer rich in calcium.
Antiparasitic and phytostimulating effect
As a phytostimulant, lithotamnium promotes the growth of the aerial part of plants and has a generally corroborating effect on the plant organism. In this way, the red algae flour helps to strengthen the natural self-defense mechanisms of plants, making them more resistant to the adversities that affect them.
In particular, it is very useful for:
- Prevent fungal diseases, as it acts as a natural barrier to the penetration of pathogens.
- Discourage attacks by chewing insects: thanks to the thin film of particles (which for insects is rather large and annoying), it causes an abrasive effect on the mouthparts of insects such as larvae and adults of the Colorado potato beetle, which are found accordingly hampered in their trophic activity. The presence of algae meal on the vegetation also prevents the oviposition of this and other parasites. In essence, this is a role similar to that played by rock powders such as kaolin and zeolites.
Other agricultural uses
Lithotamnium also finds other uses in agriculture, such as:
- Ingredient for the preparation of various log pastes, widely used in biodynamic agriculture for the defense of fruit trees and of which there are different types.
- Possible ingredient for the preparation of root pulp, a practice that can be carried out before planting the tree and shrub species to favor their rooting.
- Ingredient of NAB, a pulp that can be used in organic farming which, out of a total of 100 liters, is composed of 1 kg of lithotamn, 400 grams of bentonite, 400 grams of copper sulphate, to which also linseed oil can be added after mixing, sodium silicate, propolis. The NAB mixture is used as a pesticide, for example on the orchard, from the opening of the buds.
- Food supplement for laying hens: this is an aspect that goes beyond the scope of vegetable cultivation, but it can always be useful to know as many people who cultivate also have their own chicken coop. In fact, calcium is a very important element in the diet of laying hens, precisely because it is contained in the egg shell.
How to use lithotamn in the garden
Lithotamnium can be used as a fertilizer, distributing a few handfuls on the ground or for foliar applications, and then after suspending the powder in water.
Feed plants with algae- Dosage
For the distributions on the ground as fertilizer or corrective of the acid pH, it is possible to estimate about 300 kg/hectare of lithotamn, for which 3 kg per 100 square meters of the vegetable garden.
To nebulize the suspension on the aerial part of the plants, instead, the powder is put in water, in doses of about 4-5 kg / hl, mixing very well, and nebulizing the jet to ensure total and homogeneous coverage of the foliage. We can find very useful electric knapsack pumps or if the land is larger, wheelbarrow pumps, otherwise even sprayers if you are working at company level.
When to treat
For foliar treatments, it is always good to choose the coolest hours of the day to perform the treatments, so early in the morning or in the evening. After each rain, we will have to repeat the treatment because the product is naturally washed away from the vegetation. For the preventive and invigorating action of lithotamn to be effective, we will need to do more interventions during the plant cycle, but always without exaggerating, in order not to run the risk of asphyxiating plants, especially in greenhouse crops.
For the distributions on the ground, we intervene in the soil working phase.
Precautions in use
Since it is a very fine powder, it is necessary to avoid inhalation and opt for treatments in aqueous suspension.
It is always advisable to wear gloves and long-sleeved clothing and first read the label of the product purchased, even if it is not a substance with toxic or polluting effects.
Lithotamn in certified organic farming
The use of lithotamn in certified organic farming is allowed, in particular, it is listed as a fertilizer. It is found precisely in Annex I of Reg EC 889/08:
“Fertilizers, soil improvers and nutrients pursuant to art. 3, paragraph 1, and Article 6 quinquies, paragraph 2 “. The annex does not explicitly refer to lithotamn but to “algae and algae-based products”.
In the adjacent column, the one relating to the description, composition requirements and conditions for use, it is specified that seaweed-based products are allowed
“If obtained directly by Physical processes including dehydration, freezing and grinding; extraction with water or acid and/or alkaline aqueous solution; fermentation”.
You may be interested to read about the Carolina reaper grow guide/ Naga morich pepper grow guide/ Calabrian chilli grow guide/ Habanero pepper cultivation/ Jalapeño pepper blogpost/ Germinating seeds Recipe/ Stuffed baguette with peppers recipe/ Italian roasted peppers recipe/ Hot pepper jam recipe/ Jelly with peel recipe.