Thanks to my grandmother for inspiring this story, and to my mother for helping make it. If you like our videos, please consider supporting MinuteEarth on Patreon! - Alex Bird poop was the gateway fertilizer that turned humanity onto the imported-chemical-based farming system of modern agriculture. Thanks to our Patreon patrons and our YouTube members. ___________________________________________ To learn more, start your googling with these keywords: Guano: seabird (or bat) poop. From the indigenous Peruvian word “wanu”, meaning “manure that’s good for fertilizer" Manure: animal poop used as fertilizer (typically cow or pig poop) Fertilizer: a chemical-containing substance added to soil to provide nutrients to plants Nitrate mining: digging up the naturally occurring solid form of the element nitrogen (sodium nitrate) Phosphate mining: digging up the naturally occurring solid form of the element phosphorus Haber-Bosch process: the major industrial method to take nitrogen gas out of the air and convert it to ammonia ___________________________________________ If you liked this week’s video, you might also like: Our fertilizer is killing us. Here's a fix: Why bird poop is white: In 1856 US Congress enabled US citizens to take over unclaimed islands with guano on them: Guano is in demand again today: _________________________________________ Subscribe to MinuteEarth on YouTube: Support us on Patreon: And visit our website: Say hello on Facebook: And Twitter: And download our videos on itunes: ___________________________________________ Credits (and Twitter handles): Script Writer, Video Director, and Narrator: Alex Reich (@alexhreich) Video Illustrator: Jesse Agar (@JesseAgarYT) With Contributions From: Henry Reich, Ever Salazar, Peter Reich, David Goldenberg Music by: Nathaniel Schroeder: Image Credits: Farquhar, W.H. 1884. The Annals of Sandy Spring, Vol. I, Pg. xxix-xxx. Baltimore: Cushings & Bailey. ___________________________________________ References: Canby, T.Y. 2002. The Annals of Sandy Spring, Vol. VI. Introduction: Pg. 26-27. Sandy Spring Museum. Cushman, G.T. 2013. Guano and the opening of the Pacific World: A global ecological history. Cambridge University Press. Cushman, G.T., personal communication, October 2018. Farquhar, W.H. 1884. The Annals of Sandy Spring, Vol. I, Pg. xxix-xxx. Baltimore: Cushings & Bailey. Lorimor, J., Powers, W., Sutton, A. 2004. Manure Characteristics. MWPS-18, Section 1. Second Edition. Table 6. Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. Robinson, M.B. April 26, 2007. In Once-Rural Montgomery, a Rich History. The Washington Post. S. Sands & Son. 1875. The American Farmer: Devoted to Agriculture, Horticulture and Rural Life. Vol. 4, Issue 12, pg. 417-418. Baltimore. Stabler, H.O. 1950. The Annals of Sandy Spring, Vol. V, Pg. 43. American Publishing Company. Szpak, P., et al. 2012. Stable isotope biogeochemistry of seabird guano fertilization: results from growth chamber studies with Maize (Zea mays). PloS one, 7(3), e33741. Thanks also to the Sandy Spring Museum.