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Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

Note:  The Australian Government Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority have advised that DE is not registered under the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Act 1994 ('Agvet Code') and it is an offence to represent it as a product which: "is represented as a means of destroying, stupefying, repelling, inhibiting the feeding of, or preventing infestation by or attacks of, any pest in relation to a plant, a place or thing and/or modifying the physiology of a plant or pest so as to alter its natural development, productivity, quality or reproductive capacity."

If you are looking at information about how people around the world have used DE, please Google it or consult organic gardening books, websites or forums. I think we are allowed to say from our experience insects don't seem to like it.

What is it?

Diatomaceous earth is made from the remains of tiny single celled algae called diatoms, which make shells for themselves out of silica.  When the diatoms die, the shells settle on the bottom of sea or lake beds and fossilize into a soft, chalky rock like substance. 

There are many DE deposits around the world which are mined for use in industry and agriculture.  It is naturally extremely absorbent.

DE’s microscopic structure consists of many sharp edges. 

DE can be dusted, sprinkled, raked, mixed with water and sprayed over plants or around the house and garden.  DE will continue to work as long as it is present in the environment. 

DE is also useful sprinkled in & around chook pens, kennel areas, etc.  It will deodorise and absorb odours from these areas.  Food grade DE is not poisonous to humans or animals.

DE is composed of silica, but also contains other trace minerals.  When used in soils, it aids in:

  • Increases water holding capacity, and aids nutrient retention
  • Encourages beneficial microbial soil activity
  • Boosts plant tissue strength, meaning more pest and disease resistance
  • Converts locked up phosphorous into a plant available form
  • Decreases soil salinity by diluting sodium content

DE is a beneficial addition to compost heaps.  It aids with controlling odours, and will not harm earthworms, provided it is sprinkled on the top of the soil to allow worms to slowly digest it and work it in. DE can also be used inside the house.

Important Notes:

Use only untreated or food grade DE.  Pool filtered DE is chemically treated and is poisonous.

Our DE is a raw and untreated product.  It is non-toxic and allowable as an animal feed supplement (non-registered) and is not human food grade.

Health warning: 

Care should be taken when using DE.  Wear a dust mask, eye protection and gloves.  While it is non toxic the tiny particles can be drying to skin and hands, and harmful if inhaled.  Always wash hands after use.

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