Sunday, November 09, 2014

Guano a Place

There's a fascinating article in the current issue of Smithsonian all about...the potato. Scoff if you will, but did you know that up until the lowly spud was introduced to Europe the continent was never quite able to feed itself, and the standard of living was much like you might find in a third world country? And also, the potato was originally poisonous and had to be eaten with clay to neutralize the toxins, a trick that people learned from watching the animals? And during the agricultural boom brought on by the growth of the potato's popularity, Europe imported tons and tons of bird poop? Wait, come back.

You probably think of bats when you hear the word "guano," but in fact the word is derived from the South American "wano," meaning "dung." Guano can refer to the excrement of bats, seabirds or seals. In Peru there are many coastal areas with high, inaccessible cliffs, as well as secluded islands, which allow tremendous numbers of seabirds to nest undisturbed by people. And where there are seabirds...

Just off the coast of Peru lie the Chincha Islands. Peru began exporting the guano deposits found there in 1840. Guano is rich in phosphorus and nitrogen, is odorless and so makes an excellent fertilizer. In some places on the islands the guano was over 150 feet deep. And that, my friends, is a lot of bird poop.

Over the next few decades Peru exported about 13 million tons of guano from the Chincha Islands. At one point it accounted for 60% of the revenue for the Peruvian government. In 1864, as further proof that people will fight over just about anything, Spain took control of the Chincha Islands, and with it much of the Peruvian guano trade, igniting the Chincha Islands War. The war would last until 1866, when Spain was finally sent packing. As with most natural resources, the guano of the Chincha Islands was quickly used up, and the supply was mostly exhausted by 1874.

You already knew that wars have been fought over many things including land, gold, slaves, rubber and oil. And now to that list you can add piles and piles of goopy bird poop. Enjoy your breakfast.


At 4:40 AM, Anonymous FUNGUS!!!! said...

That's a load of SHIT!!!!!


I have birds(pigeons) that have taken over the eaves above one of my bedroom windows above the garage.

This means the poop level is a constant source of piles on the window sill and the driveway in front of the garage door!!!

I don't have a ladder tall enough to reach the area and fix the problem, so I may have to look for a Peruvian in the mass of illegal immigrants that are pouring over our Arizona borders!!!

Hopefully, I won't have 150 feet of guano to deal with before the "issue" is taken care of!!!

By the way, how does the guano effect the toxins in the potato????

(Just in case I need to use it some time, maybe I'll save some of the droppings for my garden and fruit trees!!!)

At 9:34 AM, Blogger Leonard Stegmann said...

FUNGUS, you're sitting on a gold mine! Well, hopefully not actually sitting on it, but still...

At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

will horse shit do the same thing?

out in the back country, where we truckers often travel, there are always farms and ranches that will give you all the shit you want.

all you have to do is go pick up a pile and haul it off.

if mr. fungus needs some, I can drop it off next time I have an arizona run!

let me know!

At 12:00 PM, Blogger Leonard Stegmann said...

I can't speak for FUNGUS,but you can count me out, ANON. I've taken enough shit in my life.


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