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Organic Gardening: Brewer's grain vs. Alfalfa meal/pellets for amendments?

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Forum: Organic GardeningReplies: 9, Views: 399
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Cincinnati (Anderson, OH
(Zone 6a)

September 26, 2004
12:08 PM

Post #1066391

I have a chance to buy dried brewer's grain or should I just use alfalfa meal/pellets for soil amendments? Is there any advantage/disadvantage of one over the other? Do they have the same purpose?

Someone told me brewer's grain (would that be hops?) had special hormones to make plants thrive--does anyone know anything about that? (I know they use brewer's grain in the local mushroom compost.)

Does anyone know of a soil chemistry site that talks about merits of alfalfa and brewer's grain? (I googled but couldn't find anything.) Any ideas or experience with either product? Thanks. t.
Oklahoma City, OK
(Zone 7a)

October 1, 2004
2:40 PM

Post #1074496

I can't find any good information on the brewer's grain. Where are you able to purchase it? I guess I'd also be interested in finding out what other uses the brewer's grain has. I have lots of questions, but no answers, unfortunately. I wonder if your local Extension Office would be of any help.

October 1, 2004
5:57 PM

Post #1074853

Never heard of brewer's grain as a soil amendment, the cows certainly liked it but here's a table that might help, it doesn't contain info about Alfalfa but perhaps there is a similar table you can compare the information with

Brewer's Grain is the left over barley bits.


United States
(Zone 5b)

October 1, 2004
8:41 PM

Post #1075098

Alfalfa's nutritional composition in under Alfalfa in garden terms.
Cincinnati (Anderson, OH
(Zone 6a)

October 2, 2004
1:28 AM

Post #1075482

OK, so thanks for the links... I did a little more google research on 'brewers grain' and apparently it is (in addition to cattle feed) a bulk nitrogen supplement to compost--no one says anything about it having any special enzymes or chemical reactions to make plants grow better, which is what I thought may be the case from talking to the landscape supply company people...I suppose to really find out I should ask the Anheuser Busch people for an answer!

If it is worth the trouble I thought I would add some to a soil mix I am trying to concoct for my garden--(I can buy brewers grain from a processor here in Cincinnati). I was buying a spent mushroom compost product (Posy Power--the people on the 'shroomery' site love it), which included Brewers Grain, by the bag and it was getting expensive and I wanted to create a homemade substitute. --certainly looks like Alfalfa has a lot more nitrogen and I may as well use that...

Thanks again for your ideas. I will let you know if I come up with anything worthwhile. If you come across any other research, please let me know. t.
North Hills, CA

September 21, 2007
12:33 PM

Post #4001053

Google brewers yeast as fertilizer then malt as fertilizer or try finding the article at Real

There was an article in(I think it was) the Real Beer newsletter recently about using spent malt (malted Barley)as a fertilizer and feed for cattle or some other critters.
It also had one about using the yeast from the bottom of the fermentor as feed and fertilizer.

From this link

"The development of BGY35 was a breakthrough for The F.L. Emmert Company. During the 1970s, the company successfully developed and marketed supplements based on the nutritional benefits of brewers yeast. These included livestock feed, pet foods, and organic fertilizer. Most of the company's sales came from Molasso-Malt, which was also marketed under the names Pal-O-Blend and Lasso-Mix. The F.L. Emmert Company also sold BGY35 and bag dried brewers grain. "

It says organic fertilizer but doesn't advertise it on their site

I homebrew beer and was thinking about putting both spent yeast and malt in my container garden.
I think it would be good in a compost pile.
I know it composts,I left some in a bucket one time and it was steaming hot a few days later when I found it.

This message was edited Sep 21, 2007 4:52 AM
Audubon, PA
(Zone 6b)

September 21, 2007
12:41 PM

Post #4001073

yes... speaking as a former homebrewer... Brewer's grain would be MALTED BARLEY. Malted barley is barley grain that has been sprouted then dried. It is, indeed, packed with enzymes & nutrition.
It is sold as an organic fertilizer but is probably fairly expensive when compared to others.
Cincinnati (Anderson, OH
(Zone 6a)

September 21, 2007
1:14 PM

Post #4001201

Thank you for all the good resource information. I can't wait to do some more google-ing and try a new compost mix.
Cleveland, OH

October 28, 2008
1:17 AM

Post #5723959

I would think the alphalpha would be a better ammendment if you have to buy the grains... I might be wrong but spent brewery grains I believe does not have the yeast added yet. I believe the grains have been roased for flavor then brewed which would kill any enzymes ...It is then drained off leaving the spent grains taking even more of the nutrients.. The yeast is then added to the brew after the roasting and brewing ... I know spent grains are full of nitrogen as they compost pile really heats up fast when applied... They have some sugar in them as they taste sweet so it is probably giving the microoranizms a buffet dinner... I usually apply them to a bed, then immediatly till them in to prevent the birds and rodents from eating them all...I think a good organic strategy is to sprinkle the grains on the surface of the soil after a good rain... The slugs will then come out in droves to feed on them and so will the birds... The birds will quickly eat the slugs along with the grain.
Cincinnati (Anderson, OH
(Zone 6a)

November 3, 2008
6:36 PM

Post #5747832

Thanks for your comments, John. I will keep those thoughts in mind about the brewers grains.

I was down at the bourbon distillery a few months ago and they said they had an arrangement with farmer neighbors who use their spent grains for compost which I thought was interesting, too.

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