I have a surplus of goats milk (cannot use for human consumption due to antibiotics). I have read in the Holistic Orchard by Michael Phillips of the practice of spraying fruit trees with milk or whey. Has anyone done this?? And what time of year would that be done here in this climate? Would like to put this milk to good use. If not on my orchard on my tomatoes or roses??
Interesting, Jennifer. The first article mentioned using cow's skim milk because the fat was a problem. Since I have goat's milk with a higher butterfat content could be a problem. And it is naturally homogenized so hard to get the fats out. And on the second article it speaks of adding molasses and "parts" of rumen from animals with such. Okay, this gets goory now but I do have a couple of ruminates that are being raised for meat. I always bury the "leftovers" from the "meat harvesting" in an area that will benefit from this organic material. So maybe my orchard next time?? I do apologize to vegetarians and vegan out there for this tidbit of information, but want to use everything that is raised on this piece of land.
using as ground fertilizer would be better, and safer, imho
but still, the soil must be very moist and not subject to drying periods, as milk is rich in salts and proteins, which could cause dehydration of the roots--even though the milk is still in liquid form.
spraying on the plant and then letting it dry on the plant could pose a huge osmotic gradient, as well as possible suffocation should the cream and coagulated proteins block a great number of stomata.
animals generally need to breakdown proteins to simple amino acids before the amino acids could be assimilated and rearranged into animal protein, but plants need further decomposition, as even amino acids must be broken down into nitrogen byproducts: urea, nitrates, ammonia/ammonium ions to be assimilated by plants. In other words, you cannot transfuse amino acids, globulins, and albumin into plants and assume it will do well, even if actually starving for nitrogen.
pouring the milk into moist soil would promote a more favorable environment for insects, fungi, bacteria, protozoans, and molds to metabolize the proteins and excrete nitrogenous wastes which plants could use.
I forgot mention that the milk was diluted 1:10 with water. Australian growers used it on grapes to cut down on foliar spore germination. South American growers mixed it with molasses. I think I read somewhere to use it on squash plants also to minimize mildew. Do you think the dilution would make a difference?? Adding molasses to it?? I also have flood irrigation through my orchard area so could just pour milk into that to percolate through, much the easier route.
i see now. A great deal of dilution would certainly make it safer as 'plant lotion', and since milk sours when stale, it will have some antibacterial(anti-bad bacteria, that is) or antifungal effects.
while we practically want all of our foodstuff to be sterile and aseptically prepared, yoghurt and certain cheeses are some of the few food products we desire oozing with live molds and bacteria, lol!
assuming we feel this 'resource' is a net benefit ... 'nutrient' vs negative 'anti-biotic' ... based on: absorption + pass-on + dilution ...
experiment ... you have several fruit trees ... observe ...
your property's carrying capacity to absorb this 'resource' is there ... its just about finding the best / highest use of the product / resource ... which you will have available again in the future ...
I would be less inclined to apply to a bacterial driven system than a fungal driven system ...
you could also experiment on other 'low value' vegetation ... before experimenting on 'higher value' fruit trees ...
I tend to agree with some of the statements on this thread. I think foliar applications of milk is risking some fungal disease. But it is a good time of the year to apply it. And if you do set up and experiment with it. Seems worth trying to me.
Otherwise used as a liquid fertilizer seems more appropriate though again you could encourage fungus that may not be beneficial to the vegetation.
Still the above link is not dismissive of the practice.