What is the difference in quality of meal based ingredients which are used in organic fertilizers – i.e. feather meal, blood meal, meat meal, etc.? It would be simple if we could say that “all animal proteins are the same.” However, this is not the case.

Animal feed proteins are regulated by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). They establish definitions and insure the consumer gets what the seller is guaranteeing on the label. The label is prepared by the seller or manufacturer and establishes what level of nutrients they will guarantee. For example: Supplier A may offer feather meal with a guarantee of 78% protein. Supplier B may also make feather meal, but can guarantee 85% protein. AAFCO will certify that both products meet their guarantees and can be sold for animal feed use. Does that mean the two are the same? Hardly! The only criteria which has to be met under the provisions of AAFCO, is that feather meal must not have less than 75% digestible protein. This is not a very stringent requirement. To illustrate this, we can consider Supplier A making 78% protein (12.48% nitrogen) which happens to be 75% digestible. This would give you 9.36 units of available nitrogen. Supplier B makes and 85% protein (13.66% nitrogen) that is 95% digestible. This would give you 12.92% units of nitrogen available. Both products are suitable for feed and can also be used for fertilizer. Supplier B’s feather meal has 27% more available nitrogen.

Our feather meal stands apart from other feather meals found in the feed industry. Griffin Industries has patented technology, patent #6,101,736 which is exclusive to our company. The hydrolyzing equipment and process we developed allow us to make the most nutritious animal feed products available in the industry today. In fertilizer, this equates to the most efficient and available ingredients in our products. This doesn’t just hold true for feather meal. All of our meals including blood, meat, bone, fish and poultry, are designed to deliver the most nutrition whether they are used in animal feed or in fertilizer.

Protein meals in the feed industry can vary not just in protein content and digestibility (availability in fertilizer) but in other nutrients and their availability, impurities, moisture and the sources of the raw material. Our meals all carry guarantees for phosphorus and calcium. Not only are these vital nutrients for animals, but they are significant to plant growth and health.

Also, all of our raw materials come from food processing operations that are USDA /FDA inspected. If our protein meals are not used in fertilizer, they are used in the pet food industry which has set very strict quality control specs that have to be met.

Griffin Industries takes pride in the fact that we can make high quality feed ingredients. Because we are making our own ingredients, we can make the specifications that we need to bring the most nutrient packed meal-based fertilizer on the market with no filler. For years we have been formulating for the feed industry. We have taken this knowledge and applied the same principles to fertilizer formulation.

This approach seems to be working. Recent research was published by Dr. Charles Peacock from North Carolina State University. He compared the nitrogen release rate of Nature Safe, Milorganite and Bion. These are three representative types of organic fertilizer. The nitrogen sources vary – Nature Safe 8-3-5 is animal protein meal-based, Milorganite is treated sewage sludge and Bion is hog manure waste. Final release rates, averaged between the two separate replications done over a ten week period over two years, were approximately 80% for Nature Safe, 50% for Milorganite and 30% for Bion. Nature Safe was the most consistent over the two years with only an 8% difference in release rates. Milorganite had the most variability between years of 22%. In fact, the overall conclusion in this study was that Nature Safe released the way turfgrass managers need a product to release – consistently in both timing and magnitude.

Griffin Industries has quality control measures in place to insure consistency and availability of nutrients. This research further demonstrates the importance of such quality control. With more competitors in the marketplace riding the Nature Safe wave, it’s important that products have the research and customer validation to support their claims. All organic fertilizers are not the same and even more importantly, all ingredients within an organic fertilizer are not the same.