The Bird Poop That Changed The World

  • Published on Dec 14, 2018
  • 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 USclip 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 USclip:
    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.
    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:
  • Science & TechnologyScience & Technology

Comments • 432

  • Ricky Torres
    Ricky Torres 4 days ago

    Pet poops can also be used as natural fertilizers. From dogs to cats to your guinea pigs to even your tanks (fresh water obviously). Most of these are straight forwarded (just compost it with the correct balance of poop to carbon) but for cats you has to first use a biodegradable litter mix if you aren't already. Then you can compost their deposits and their boxes once a change is an order.

  • Baryonic Matter
    Baryonic Matter 5 days ago

    Geez that bird is way more useful than I am.

  • Pinchy Cheeks
    Pinchy Cheeks 7 days ago

    Can guano give out diseases?

  • Volt 56 the second time

    Yes put the poop in the bag or I shoot you

  • Nhật anh Bùi
    Nhật anh Bùi 10 days ago

    How to get Ntrogen. Get a fan first :)

  • sivaji velicheti
    sivaji velicheti 12 days ago

    I just realised birds dont pee

  • Hot Dog
    Hot Dog 13 days ago

    Make ,,Why animals don't like albino"

  • Tule Odumah
    Tule Odumah 14 days ago

    Another poop video, seriously though you guys need to check your bowel movements it might be compromised.

  • Spug
    Spug 14 days ago +1

    good thing im eating while watching

  • ジャマイアCraycrayunicorn

    So your saying my birds poop changed the world

  • Mckenzie Welsh
    Mckenzie Welsh 15 days ago

    Harvest -> bird -> Peru-> poop->spray on fields -> restart

  • Thanos
    Thanos 16 days ago

    My ancestors lived like my population now there dead like my planet

  • Shaikh Mustafa Salman
    Shaikh Mustafa Salman 17 days ago +1

    upload more you have not uploaded for 2 weeks

  • Katiliniana Fj
    Katiliniana Fj 17 days ago

    bat poop is also called guano.

  • Ike Tunacao
    Ike Tunacao 19 days ago

    Whut did I eat?????

  • Salem ALhamed
    Salem ALhamed 19 days ago

    I hope you add Arabic in all videos.

  • gachaverse girl
    gachaverse girl 19 days ago

    Now I know y my Garden is not growing

  • ჱܓBunny Rabbit ჱܓ

    I mean.. It's better than killing places off..?

  • Digna Trakyte
    Digna Trakyte 22 days ago +1

    Why bees sting but they die after they sting?

  • Briggsrocks59
    Briggsrocks59 22 days ago

    i think i learned more from this yt channel that all my school combind

  • Lucian David
    Lucian David 23 days ago +1

    2:09 Nani!?

    МАРВА КАЮМИ 23 days ago

    Well that. Title sounds SHITTY

  • TransBlox TV
    TransBlox TV 24 days ago

    1:49 read the tittle at the bottom right corner

  • blog da da
    blog da da 24 days ago


  • Pokywan :D
    Pokywan :D 25 days ago +1

    I wanna feed some ramdom birds some beans for some reason
    O yeah to make them poop.

  • class 04d05
    class 04d05 25 days ago

    Marry Christmas

  • The Science Biome
    The Science Biome 28 days ago +1

    Thanks Minute earth, for taking me on an informative and poopy journey.

  • Natasha
    Natasha 28 days ago

    So US is now the whole world. It changed north america, peru and some european countries but not the whole world.

  • Aaaa Bbbb
    Aaaa Bbbb 29 days ago


  • Prospector40
    Prospector40 29 days ago

    One problem with one of our new fertilizer sources. Potash, the main source for potassium, is running out worldwide and unfortunately, we have no source of cheap easy to find potassium. Poop might have to make a comeback, but from another source. Seeing as the ocean receives most of nutrients we eat once they get flushed, these tropical bird islands are one of the few places where we can find concentrated potassium that is pulled directly from the ocean and recycled on the land. Maybe we ought to start protecting these islands more so we can have a source when the mines run dry.

  • alvin lajara
    alvin lajara 29 days ago

    MinuteEarth is awesome!

  • Maskiter Channel
    Maskiter Channel 29 days ago

    Hello everybody! I am wrote a book, but now this book is only on Russian Language. I had a questioin for you, who read this commentary. Can you help me to translet this book? Tematical of book is Literatyre Rpg, if you can help me write on this link: I badly know Englesh for right translet.

  • apex furry
    apex furry Month ago

    could you do one on pxe im trying to learn about it and theres not a lot out there i can find ? please

  • coconut jam
    coconut jam Month ago

    if you looking for a good soil for farming go to a volcano

    *and jump in it*

  • PoliceBird Growtopia


  • V.F
    V.F Month ago +1

    Россия 🇷🇺

  • Jacob Wh Khu
    Jacob Wh Khu Month ago


  • itaybron
    itaybron Month ago +1

    Isn't Guano bat poop?

  • Rigging Doctor
    Rigging Doctor Month ago

    My great grandmother used to let her chickens run over the fields all winter long. They pooped all winter long and her crops grew wonderfully the next year.

  • Cole Tan
    Cole Tan Month ago

    Guano is bat poop

  • Joaquin Vinuela
    Joaquin Vinuela Month ago

    *chilean guano mostly, not Peruvian

  • Abster1911
    Abster1911 Month ago

    Is it true we are running out of phosphorous? How will we manufacture fertilizers without it?

    • Facturacion VH
      Facturacion VH 14 days ago

      It's a serious issue. High demand is causing it so become scarce and the supply won't be enough.

  • Cyril Bornet
    Cyril Bornet Month ago

    A word about the ecological disaster that phosphate mining, as a non-renewable resource, leads to, would have been most welcome. And also, why this is directly linked to the urgent need of conserving resources, and why wasting food is absolutely unacceptable in today's world.

  • Unknownsuper User
    Unknownsuper User Month ago

    In America we move to richer soils

    In Soviet Russia richer soils move to them


  • Moo Moo#3093
    Moo Moo#3093 Month ago

    OK everybody should like it subscribe to this channel wanna why it is The best USclip channel to get information

  • Tom Headley
    Tom Headley Month ago

    I am no longer supporting Patreon because of their banning of personalities that they disagree with. If there is another service that you use, let me know.

  • VirusRenegade 0110100

    Normal peeps: sandy springs
    Fortnite niggas: salty springs

  • Martsigras
    Martsigras Month ago

    There was no pun :(

  • Micheline Lely Corine


  • Micheline Lely Corine


  • Micheline Lely Corine

    poo again

  • Talia Enright
    Talia Enright Month ago

    Any discussion on peak phosphorus?

  • Tech Help Portal
    Tech Help Portal Month ago

    I live in Maryland

  • Skull Viper
    Skull Viper Month ago

    Minutepoop 😅

  • Tao Lin
    Tao Lin Month ago

    Get rid of that flag! It's hideous!

  • Tiffany Unruh
    Tiffany Unruh Month ago

    Ewwwwww bird poop

  • Tyler Woodstock
    Tyler Woodstock Month ago

    Why don't you do a video on what if dinosaurs still exists

  • oledilep
    oledilep Month ago

    guano is bat poop, not bird poop. or is it the same thing?

  • A Tr
    A Tr Month ago

    I thought guano was bat poop .-.

  • Muhammadim Yusoff Jamaluddin

    And... I can see american ancestor there ripping others soil...
    Nice vid by the way. Proving Americans a shady theft. 😂

  • Adrien Mabire
    Adrien Mabire Month ago

    An problem with this method is that we have to mine, and well it's not really pretty to see.

  • Ruby Loves Murdoc
    Ruby Loves Murdoc Month ago

    This video is crap!

  • Hamchan 777
    Hamchan 777 Month ago

    This channel I should just call it,

    "The mostly poop related channel, but sometimes make other videos."

  • Freckles The Cockatiel

    um isn't guano bat shit

  • Hellbanisher Rockz
    Hellbanisher Rockz Month ago


  • Feynstein 100
    Feynstein 100 Month ago +1

    Can't we design plants that are able to absorb nitrogen directly from the atmosphere? And I don't mean nitrogen fixing plants that need bacteria to do so. I'm talking about plants that have the machinery to do so themselves. With genetic modification, it should be possible.

    • Feynstein 100
      Feynstein 100 13 days ago

      @Victor Alfonso Angeles Lol well, as long as it's at least theoretically possible, I'm hopeful. Hey, what if we could merge those cells with our cells, so that we could produce all the necessary amino acids ourselves? Eliminate the middleman (plants) entirely 😂

    • Victor Alfonso Angeles
      Victor Alfonso Angeles 13 days ago

      +Feynstein 100 it would be awesome, but the process that creates the symbiotic relationship is very complex, thousands of mechanisms are involved and I think we're a couple decades of research away of accomplishing that, if it is ever achieved

    • Feynstein 100
      Feynstein 100 13 days ago

      @Victor Alfonso Angeles That gives me an idea tho. Couldn't we incorporate the symbiotic bacteria into the plant cells, as they did with chloroplasts? But perhaps the oxygen problem mentioned above prevents that. Still, it's interesting to think about.

    • Victor Alfonso Angeles
      Victor Alfonso Angeles 14 days ago

      Robert is right. And we probably could create such a plant but I think I would be pointless. The symbiotic bacteria do a pretty good job at fixing the nitrogen. If it ain't broke, don't fix it

    • Feynstein 100
      Feynstein 100 15 days ago

      @Robert de Bath Oh okay. I didn't know that. Thanks for the info :)

  • Sinister Asphalt
    Sinister Asphalt Month ago

    Bird poop vs worm crap

  • Murkish
    Murkish Month ago

    suddenly, life is more exiting than anime

  • Ryben Flynn
    Ryben Flynn Month ago

    "Guano" is also batshit.

  • Leonardo Josias Silva
    Leonardo Josias Silva Month ago +1

    Para que serve os mosquitos? E principalmente os que fica no c# do cachorro.

  • My1
    My1 Month ago

    well there was another bird ppop that could have changed the world, for worse though. an AfD politician called the holocaust era "a bird poop in over 1000 years of successful german history" or something like that.

  • A Kookaburra
    A Kookaburra Month ago

    Am I the only person that’s not complaining about poop videos?

    You city boys

  • Adam
    Adam Month ago +1

    The invention of synthetic fertilizers is one of the most unsung epics of the modern world, having allowed hundreds of millions of people to avoid famine.

  • Luis Antonio Freitas Coelho

    Oi meu chapa

  • Jin
    Jin Month ago

    You are now officially "Poop: the channel" aren't you?

  • Ruen
    Ruen Month ago

    Omfg birds don't pee...
    I'm just realizing this now.

  • Domagoj Čapko
    Domagoj Čapko Month ago

    Is it true that gun powder is made from birds poop?

  • ian richardson
    ian richardson Month ago

    was it ever shipped to canada

  • WithinTheInkwell
    WithinTheInkwell Month ago


  • Animation4life
    Animation4life Month ago

    Soo some of the poo came to food?


  • Ethan Wetter
    Ethan Wetter Month ago

    Great video! Consider doing one on over-use of fertilizers and it’s impact on aquatic ecosystems

  • Llana Skinner
    Llana Skinner Month ago

    Another pool video 😂😂😂

  • Daniel Quinn
    Daniel Quinn Month ago

    I love that little "First!"

  • First Name Last Name

    I only ever hear the word guano used to describe bat feces.

  • Sandra Skender
    Sandra Skender Month ago


  • Blue Ice
    Blue Ice Month ago

    That was very informative clip. Thank you.

  • noah Reiniers
    noah Reiniers Month ago

    You can also grow weeds that put nutrients into the soil or let your chickens walk on your field when it is empty.

  • Azzy
    Azzy Month ago +3

    Can we finally turn this channel into MinutePoop? Way more accurate.

  • Celina K
    Celina K Month ago

    Micronutrients? Clover?

  • reinhardt wiese
    reinhardt wiese Month ago


  • masterimbecile
    masterimbecile Month ago

    Guano is a shitty fertilizer!

  • Lougle
    Lougle Month ago

    Couldve also mentioned how germany was barred from collecting this guano during the world war so they came up with Born-Harber process! which is how we now commercially produce ammonia!

  • רימון כרמל

    Great video! You always have the cutest animation when it comes to earth studies.
    You should make make a follow up video explaining nutrient washing to the Mississippi and algar blooms. That would be great!
    Keep up with the awesome work!

  • Orange Joe
    Orange Joe Month ago

    Feel free to message me if you want to buy guano.

  • Isak C
    Isak C Month ago +1

    I don’t want to know this

  • InverseAgonist
    InverseAgonist Month ago


  • Pancracio Returns
    Pancracio Returns Month ago

    Not my proudest fap

  • Sweet Jesus
    Sweet Jesus Month ago

    I know this is informativeand such, but if I see another poop video im going to unsubscribe. Or you just call the whole thing MinuteShit idk.

  • Toyosi abu
    Toyosi abu Month ago

    Shoutout to Maryland

  • Isobella DeMartino
    Isobella DeMartino Month ago

    this is why we need permaculture instead of huge farms, and why we need to stop eating animals because we used huuuge amounts of land for extensive farming of soy crops to feed them all. we could have more forests and still enough food if we all stopped eating animals