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July 2012
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What is Bone Meal? What are its risks and uses?

What is Bone Meal?

• Bone meal is a mixture of crushed and coarsely ground bones.
• It is used as an organic fertilizer for plants and formerly in animal feed.
• It is a slow-release fertilizer.
• Bone meal is primarily used as a source of phosphorus.
• Bone meal is a material made from the bones of killed skeletons.
• It is a primary color dye as well as a fertilizer.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• This is in order to make the nutrients in the fertilizer bio-available.
• That can result in irregular release of phosphorus/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 phosphorus.
• It may help tomato plants prevent blossom end rot.
• Blossom end rot can happen even though sufficient calcium is present if watering is irregular.
• High phosphorus fertilizers are also useful for transplant root growth.
• Bone meal may also reduce the bioavailability of lead in soils contaminated with lead.

What are health risks?

• 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.
• It is more likely to have spread from cow bone meal.

Fertilizer Uses

• When using Bone Meal as fertilizer, there is a chance of failure for saplings and mushrooms.
• The procedure must be repeated until it eventually works.

• When applied to planted wheat, one bone meal is consumed and the crop grows instantly, ready to be harvested.

• When applied to the planted stem, one bone meal is consumed and the stem grows instantly, ready to spawn melons.

• When applied to the planted stem, one bone meal is consumed and the stem grows instantly, ready to spawn pumpkins.

• When applied, one bone meal is consumed and the sapling may grow instantly into a tree, provided it has enough space, light, and luck.

• When applied to a grass block, one bone meal is consumed and tall grass, and usually a few flowers, form around and on the grass block.

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