Let’s produce our own nitrogen fertilizer using fish waste and sugar!
1. What is FAA?
Amino acids consist of nitrogen (N), which is known as one of the five main elements of fertilizers. Fish Amino Acid (FAA) is the amino acid extracted from fermented fish. It is an effective nitrogen fertilizer for crops and microorganisms. Other resources like pig placenta or snails can be used instead of fish.
2. How to make FAA
A container - plastic bucket, clay pot, or glass jar
Fish - the whole fish or fish waste (non-edible parts)
Sugar - brown sugar, the amount should be half the weight of the fish
This photo shows a container with a sealed lid. In this case the container should be opened from time to time to let air in.
Slowly the fish will liquify and ferment. The length of time depends on the temperature, but roughly liquification takes 2-3 days and fermentation takes 7-10 days.
When the liquid looks thick and black, it is ready to use! It can be removed and diluted according to the instructions below.
We recommend using brown sugar, but you can also use other kinds of sugar. You can read the ‘Is it okay to use other types of sugar instead of crude sugar?’ section on this page.
Leaving ⅓ space at the top and not sealing the container is ideal during the fermenting period. Air circulation will occur so that fish will ferment easily. If you are using a lid that seals, as pictured above, you can open it sometimes to let the fresh air in.
If you see fat floating on top of the solution, put some IMO 3. The IMOs will dissolve all the fat.
It is better to use it within 1~2 years of preparing, but it can be preserved in an airtight container for about 10 years.
If it smells bad while preserving, adding extra sugar will retain the condition.
Some leftover parts will remain at the bottom of the container. These can be used as compost.
3. How to use FAA
Applying to plants
Dilution ratio 1:250 - One pet bottle cap contains about 4ml, so you can prepare a 1:250 ratio by adding a cap of FAA to a 1 liter bottle of water.
The nitrogen in FAA boosts the growth of stems and leaves. At ARI we usually apply it to vegetable seedlings. You should avoid using it on fruit and root vegetables in their reproduction stage because it causes leaves to grow instead of fruit. On the other hand, it can be used anytime on leafy vegetables.
Applying to the soil
Since the concentration of nitrogen in FAA is not so high, it is not very effective to apply FAA liquid as a fertilizer to the soil. At ARI we usually make a type of "strong" Bokashi in which we add FAA, rice bran, bone powder and oil cake. We spread this in the soil as a basic fertilizer before sowing or when growing plants are suffering a serious lack of nitrogen.