Minerals on the Farm: How Diatomaceous Earth, Perlite, and Vermiculite Play a Part


Minerals on the Farm

At Dicalite Management Group, we think “Old MacDonald” was missing a few key players on the farm. In order to keep his cows and chickens (plus plants) happy, he probably needed help from diatomaceous earth, perlite, and vermiculite. Of course, that doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as the original lyrics. Learn how minerals play a part on the farm.

Minerals on the Farm: Diatomaceous Earth

A Natural Insecticide

Diatomaceous earth works as an insecticide because it has abrasive qualities that cut the pests’ bodies, causing them to die of dehydration. It can be used in the home, garden, and around animals. It is most useful in dry situations but can still be used in wet areas to make it more challenging for pests to survive.

There are various ways to use natural diatomaceous earth around the farm. Start by adding it to the chickens’ dust bath mixture helping to prevent problems with lice. And use it to help control fleas on dogs and reduce parasites in horses, pigs, and other farm animals. Natural diatomaceous is an EPA- and FDA-approved natural insecticide. Adding diatomaceous earth to animal feed serves as an anti-caking agent and as a natural preservative. Its porous structure enables it to absorb moisture that would otherwise cause the feed to mold or rot, helping the feed last longer than it would otherwise.

Anti-Caking Agent for Feed & Seeds

Diatomaceous Earth improves the flowability and mixability of animal feed. In a silo, wet grain, corn, and other types of feed will often stick together in clumps; adding diatomaceous earth helps to dry it out, break it up, and keep it from sticking in the silo.

Dicalite’s SA-3 is a natural diatomaceous earth product sourced from our Basalt, Nevada facility and is dried and sized without further processing. Dicalite’s diatomaceous earth complies with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and exceeds requirements set forth by the Food Chemicals Code (FCC). It even meets the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) standards so you can feel confident you are making the best decision for your animals and your customers. Also, our 4AFA (Animal Feed Additive) meets the USDA requirements for diatomaceous earth when applied according to regulations for animal feed applications.

Animal Feed Additive

Choosing the right animal feed additives is just as important as deciding what to feed your livestock because they can help make the animals healthier. Diatomaceous earth is a near-pure sedimentary deposit consisting almost entirely of silica. Natural diatomaceous earth is registered for use as an inert carrier or anti-caking agent for animal feed. Acting as a support and carrier, it generally serves to maximize a catalyst’s surface area and activity.

Top Source of Soluble Silicon

Diatomaceous earth, also known as diatomite and DE, is the naturally occurring fossilized remains of diatoms—single-celled aquatic algae. It is a near-pure sedimentary deposit consisting almost entirely of silicon dioxide.

  • Higher Crop Productivity: Numerous studies have shown the benefits of diatomaceous earth as a soil conditioner. For example, a study was conducted to see how strawberries and sweet potatoes responded to a soil conditioner made with diatomaceous earth compared to a control group that was treated with a normal fertilizer application. Strawberry root mass was increased by 100% to 200%, yield was increased by an average of 35%, and there was a higher survival rate of strawberry runners, allowing for the potential of more crops.
  • Improved Growing Conditions & Durability: The studies also concluded the addition of diatomaceous earth as plant-available silicon improved the growing environment and quality. There was increased uptake of key nutrients during the wet period when nutrients are typically leached away from the root zone. Natural diatomaceous earth improves the moisture retention in potting mix and soil by retaining a greater quantity of water and drying at a slower rate—all without waterlogging. It creates an unfavorable environment for hard- and soft-bodied pests.

AAPFCO’s Ruling on Diatomaceous Earth as a Soluble Silicon Source

AAPFCO is the Association of American Plant Food Control Officials. The association’s purpose is to achieve uniformity consensus by providing a forum through which members may unite to promote uniform and effective legislation, develop high standards of fertilizer inspection, promote adequate labeling and safe use of fertilizers, and more. Each state in the United States is represented. Recently, the Terms and Definitions Committee voted about the terms and definitions surrounding diatomaceous earth. They passed the motion that it is appropriate to say “uncalcined diatomaceous earth contains amorphous silicon dioxide and is a natural source of soluble silicon that may contain Ca, Mg, or Fe.”

Dicalite’s diatomaceous earth is considered a nonplant food ingredient, measuring in at a well-established .26% soluble silicon, meeting AAPFCO’s labeling guidelines for use.

Minerals on the Farm: Perlite

Growing Crops

One of the most important benefits of expanded perlite is that it provides space for both air and water within a soilless mix. It retains water in three ways: in between individual grains, in channels leading to the cores of the grains, and on the highly irregular surfaces of each particle. This naturally occurring mineral also maintains consistent aeration and drainage for plant roots, prevents compaction, will not decompose over time and deplete soil nitrogen, has a neutral pH, and is free from weeds.

Now, it’s easier than ever for even casuals growers to grow great. Our team of engineers, operations personnel, and agronomists have utilized these very minerals to develop a patent-pending, 3-in-1 soil amendment offered by our first-ever direct-to-consumer brand Harvest Hero. The innovative Enhanced Perlite Mix features a unique, proprietary blend of perlite, diatomaceous earth, and essential nutrients that support growth for a variety of plants.

Hydroponic Gardens

Horticultural perlite is particularly beneficial for hydroponic gardens. In hydroponic systems, roots are grown in troughs of perlite which are supplied with a fertilizer/nutrient solution. This allows the right amount of water and oxygen to get to the roots. According to research, plants grown hydroponically with perlite produce a heavier crop for the space, providing a better quality product. In addition to the benefit of increasing crop, perlite does not attract pests or diseases, and it can easily be replaced. Its pH provides the ideal zone for most plants to absorb nutrients that can be added to the water mixture.

Minerals on the Farm: Vermiculite

Mineral Animal Feed Additive

Vermiculite is a hydrated magnesium aluminum sheet silicate mineral closely related to mica. It acts as a catalyst in animal feed, soaking up a range of essential nutrients and delivering them slowly to animals. Vermiculite is also used as a blending agent to retain free-flowing characteristics in a feed mix, as a bulking agent to control caloric intake, and in dog food to increase regularity and control fecal odor.

Dicalite Management Group offers Verxite as an animal feed additive option. Verxite is a highly purified vermiculite hydrobiotite mineral, thermally expanded to form lightweight granules with high internal porosity. It has a long shelf life, high capacity, and also improves distribution.

Choose Dicalite Management Group for Your Minerals on the Farm

Dicalite Management Group is an international industrial minerals company with a unique multi-mineral platform including perlite, vermiculite, and diatomaceous earth, represented across three brands: Dicalite, Dicaperl, and Specialty Vermiculite. Our sales and technical services team work closely together to ensure you are getting the right product for your agriculture endeavor. We know you’ll love the results of using our minerals, so we’d like to send you a free sample. Call us today at 866-728-3303 to request your sample and speak with a knowledgeable representative.

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Our blog offers insight and information about new and exciting uses for perlite, diatomaceous earth, and vermiculite deriving from years of research and application. From passive fire resistance to mineral depth filtration, by subscribing to our mailing list, you will receive the latest information surrounding the Dicalite, Dicaperl, and Specialty Vermiculite brands and products.

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