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What is frass and how is it good for my plants?

What is frass and how is it good for my plants?

Held back hard on some great frass-related puns for this week's blog title. 

'What's all the Frass about?' was the standout, but for the sake of the google seo gods I kept it pretty simple. The point is, this week's blog is all about Frass. 

What is Frass?

You would be forgiven if you hadn't heard of Frass before, and kudos to you for even clicking through to read about it. But you'll be glad you did because this stuff is an absolute game changer

So what is it? By definition, frass is insect poo. Sounds gross, which is exactly why we refer to it as frass and not 'insect poo'. But truth is, frass is an all-natural soil additive with a diverse amino acid and macronutrient profile, that contains beneficial nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus.

It's packed with beneficial microbes (it has more benefical microbes than other organic fertilisers like worm castings) and our favourite...chitin. 

The frass we use in our products comes exclusively from the Black Soldier Fly Larvae, which contains the only form of plant-digestible chitin. Chitin produces antimicrobial peptides that makes mineral nutrients inaccessible to pathogens, as well as blocking the release of pathogenic mycotoxins (like the stuff that causes root rot).

So basically, frass is a natural fertiliser that literally breathes life into your potting mix. 

Frass and the environment

Sounds good right? But our frass goes even further. The frass from the Black Soldier Fly Larvae contains nitrifying and nitrogen-fixing bacteria, so it gives the plants a boost when it comes to nitrogen uptake but also helps to reduce atmospheric nitrogen loss and groundwater contamination. It can actually store carbon and nitrogen in the soil

And then there is the production process. Every kilogram of frass in our products offsets more than 7kg of CO2e emissions by diverting the clean food waste the insects eat from landfill. The food used to feed the Black Soldier Fly Larvae is collected from cafes and restaurants around Melbourne and fed to the flies, so you can feel better about not finishing that eggs benny last Sunday morning...

Chitin

Now we get into the real exciting stuff. Chitin is found in the exoskeletons of arthropods (think, insects, arachnids, crustaceans, and myriapods)  and cell walls of fungi. The Black Soldier Fly Larvae that produce the frass in our products actually sheds its exoskeleton three times before becoming an adult, and that exoskeleton is then mixed through into the frass and breaks down and releases its chitin. 

Aside from the aforementioned antimicrobial peptides (read: potential to reduce risk of root rot and other pathogens), its also been found the when plant roots are exposed to chitin, it has improved the number of symbiotic root nodules which support increased capture of atmospheric nitrogen and improve overall plant performance.

But the real kicker? Studies have also revealed that "chitin derived products have shown to be toxic to plant pests" and that "the induce plant defences and stimulate the growth and activity of benefical microbes". 

Boom!

Where can you get some?

Want to frass over you plants a little? (couldn't resist) Try our Soil & Microbe Booster. This is our bespoke frass and biochar blend designed to give life (really, frass has over 240million colony forming units per gram) back to your potting mixes and boost your plant's potential. 

Keen to find out more?

If you want to dig deeper and read a bit more, check out these studies

BSFL Frass: A Novel Biofertilizer for Improving Plant Health While Minimizing Environmental Impact

Chitin and Chitosan Preparation from Marine Sources. Structure, Properties and Applications

Chitosan in Plant Protection

Use of Enterra Natural Fertilizer (Black Soldier Fly Larvae Digestate) As a Soil Amendment

 A Review of the Applications of Chitin and Its Derivatives in Agriculture to Modify Plant-Microbial Interactions and Improve Crop Yields