Wood vinegar, also known as pyroligneous acid, contains over 200 organic compounds, decomposed and extracted from biomass using a moderate amount of heat in the absence of oxygen. Plants have evolved to produce these compounds over the last 470 million years. They resist attacks by insects, fungi and bacteria, and keep themselves healthy and thriving by selectively and synergistically utilizing these organic compounds.
Since plants have invested hundreds of millions of years of "evolutionary research" into the development of the mix of organic compounds that is wood vinegar, it should not be a surprise to discover that it can be very effective. When it works for a particular purpose, it tends to work very well. It should also not be a surprise to learn that parasites, bacteria and fungi find it difficult to mutate around the synergistic effects of wood vinegar. If it was easy, as is often the case with single chemical pesticides and pharmaceuticals, they would have done so already.
Unlike chemical pesticides, properly produced wood vinegar at recommended dosages is non-toxic to livestock, pets and people. It stimulates the growth of beneficial soil microbes, and does not cause environmental side effects. The organic compounds in wood vinegar are components of the foods we eat in concentrated form, and they quickly and easily decompose in soil, just like any other biogenic material.
A highly effective pesticide and fungicide that nurtures soil microbial life, stimulates plant growth and is optimally biodegradable sounds highly unlikely, but that's what 470 million years of evolution has produced. Perhaps we should rely on wood vinegar's natural, evolved wisdom whenever possible, rather than on chemicals produced in a laboratory from relatively few, isolated experiments that have proved to have numerous, negative side effects.
Listed and documented below are a few examples of the many use cases for wood vinegar. Please contact us if you have any questions or experience regarding wood vinegar use.
The poultry red mite, Dermanyssus gallinae, is the most damaging parasite in poultry farms worldwide, causing 231 million euro of losses annually within Europe alone. Infestation rates are extremely high, averaging 83% in the EU, affecting flocks of all sizes and types, from backyard and organic farms, to large scale intensive cage or barn systems.1 In North America, the northern fowl mite is more prevalent but just as problematic.2 3
Red mites feed on the blood of chickens at night and hide during the day in cracks and crevices. The main difference with the northern fowl mite is it generally remains on the chicken. These mites rapidly reproduce, with typical infestation density between 25,000 to 500,000 mites per bird. They transmit a variety of diseases to poultry, including Salmonella enteritidis, Lyme disease, and avian flu. These all can be passed on to humans, pets and other livestock, either directly from mite bites or through poultry products. Infested hens produce significantly less eggs of lower quality, aggressively peck out their feathers, have elevated levels of stress hormones and suffer anemia and up to a 10 times higher mortality rate.1 4
For a variety of reasons, these mites are very difficult to get rid of. The red mites hide during the day in crevices, and generally feed only at night. Many pesticides used in the past have either been withdrawn from the market or banned for use in poultry production to protect human health. Those that are approved often cannot be sprayed on the birds themselves, and any chicken eggs produced after spraying must be destroyed. Mites have quickly mutated to become resistant to a variety of pesticides, and many survive treatment, either because they are hidden, the pesticide is ineffective against mite eggs, or because regulations forbid spraying the birds directly. The net result is that our poultry products are contaminated with pesticides, even those labelled as biological, and infestation rates and losses are increasing.1 5 6
Japanese research has shown that wood vinegar is an effective repellent and biocide against poultry mites. Effective dilution rates of 500 to 1 are absolutely safe to spray directly on the chickens themselves and within their cages or barns.7 Adult mites exposed to wood vinegar die within hours, and it also kills the larvae and eggs. Those hiding in crevices during application are repelled for at least 2 weeks, and any still surviving at that point show signs of wood vinegar infiltration, which will compromise their ability to reproduce.8
Wood vinegar kills mites and their eggs by infiltrating them and disrupting life processes because of its higher osmotic pressure. It is highly unlikely they will be able to mutate to avoid this effect.8 Hence the combination of its effectiveness, non-toxicity and permanence make it an excellent choice to combat poulty mites.
Cryptosporidiosis, a parasitic disease of the intestinal tract, is widespread in cattle worldwide and is the main cause of intestinal inflammation and diarrhoea in calves, which can be fatal and spreads rapidly in a herd. Unfortunately, relatively few methods are available to eliminate these parasites. Standard treatment largely consists of isolation and rehydration, while prevention comes down to keeping bedding as clean as possible.
A study on a farm in the US followed 30 calves from birth. 29 of them (96.6%) were positive for cryptosporidium by 2 weeks of age. Many farms have high infection rates, and the cost and effort to intensively care for these calves is substantial.
Cryptosporidium parasites are easily transmitted to humans and other livestock through fecal and water contamination. Cryptosporidiosis is the second largest cause of infant diarrhoea and death in Africa and Asia. In developed countries, thousands of people exposed to livestock or contaminated water are infected annually. Hence, there are compelling reasons to control this parasite effectively.9 10
Research has shown that an ingested mix of activated charcoal and wood vinegar kills the cryptosporidium parasite in calves and cattle, curing the related diarrhoea in one day.11 Unlike pharmaceutical drugs commonly used to treat cryptosporidiosis, such as Halocur, wood vinegar can be administered to a dehydrated animal and it actually kills the parasite rather than just alleviating symptoms. Regular preventative treatment could simply and economically eliminate cryptosporidiosis from a farm.