Many speculations are circling on whether manures are effective or not. Some believe that it only helps the plant decay more. While for others, they believe that it greatly provides a nutrient booster to the plant once added. But which is true and which is false? Also, how does a soil thermometer help determine the right soil for you? To answer these and for us to know more, we will dig in (no pun intended) on how animal manure produces healthy soil and which is the best one for your garden.
One thing is certain, though, animal manure is composed of organic materials used for increasing nutrient content and bioavailability.
Availability of Manure
If you have your resources near you, you’re lucky. From an environmental point of view and cost, the best manure of all is one that is readily available to you. There’s no point in driving from one state to another just to get slightly better manure than what you already have. But for many gardeners, the way to go is still to get bagged manure from grocery stores or nurseries.
Of course, be mindful that we are sticking to animal manure. You must not use human waste despite its obvious availability. Why? For the reason that human waste carries drugs, diseases, and many more harmful substances. Also, make sure to do your research about animal manures before diving headfirst.
The following are the three types of manure that you should know:
- Fresh. It means that the waste is less than a month old.
- Aged. Let it sit around for a while to age it.
- Composted. Do you see black soil around your garden? Those are composted manure that has gone through the hot composting process.
Gardeners can use a variety of manure, especially if they have much domestic livestock around. The most common types of livestock manures are:
- Cow – Using cattle manure or cow dung in the garden is popular in many rural areas. Cow manure is essentially made up of digested grass and grain. This manure is not as rich as other nitrogen sources and is high in ammonia levels that can burn plants when the manure is directly applied.
- Chicken – It is believed to be the most desired manure of all times. Chicken manure as vegetable garden fertilizer is excellent because of its high nitrogen and a good amount of potassium and phosphorus. It balances the nutrients needed by plants, thus making it the best manure on the list.
- Horse – One of the most used manure in rural areas, horse manure is the best fertilizer that you can use for plants. It provides essential nutrients for plants to grow continually. Horse manure also contains a fair amount of organic matter that you can apply in various ways.
- Goat – A unique form of manure is from goats. A goat produces neater pelletized droppings manure that doesn’t attract insects or burn plants, unlike cows and horses. This manure is also virtually odorless and great for the soil.
- Pig – Old farmers use pig manure for their soil and wait to decompose into nutrients for the next season’s crops. But today’s pigs are unhealthy and prone to E.coli, salmonella, and parasitic worms. The best way to compost pig manure is to process it at extremely high temperatures and turn it frequently. For better processing, you should try using a soil thermometer to check its temperature easily.
Digestion of the Animal
It is important to know what the animal consumes before using their feces. The degree of digestion is an important factor that will soon impact your soil. Cattle, sheep, and goats are the best examples of animals with efficient digestive systems. On the other hand, a horse is not your best bet.
Also, note that manure is rarely ever just manure. It is mixed with some bedding materials. In addition, animal manure can be in a state of solid, semi-solid, and liquid by-product. It is, therefore, crucial to note what kind of diet animals are under because digestion factors a lot in producing excellent manure.
Antibiotic Content From the Manure
All farm animals have antibiotics within their body. And the best way for these antibiotics to be harvested is through excretion. They are useful in the microbe population and don’t interfere with the composting process. Also, excessive manure heating will lessen the effects of antibiotics in the manure. But hot composting is still more effective than cold composting.
Once your soil is added with manure high in antibiotic concentrations, you can expect that your plants will be too. Simply put, higher concentrations in the soil means higher concentration for plants. If you are looking for good quality manure, you should opt to buy from organic farms. They ensure that their products are worth every penny that you will spend.
The main reason you put manure in your garden is to add organic matter and nutrients. Today’s soils are not like the way they were before. Soils have been overworked by agriculture or damaged by structured buildings resulting in a low level of organic matter. By adding organic matter to the soil, structures will greatly improve them. The water and nutrient holding capacities also increase.
Another reason you use manure in your soil is to introduce foreign nutrients that they lack but need. For instance, as people call them, salts are inorganic components that plants use. These include micronutrients such as nitrate, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphate. And fresh manure has the most nutrients among the three types discussed before. But when fresh manure is composted, it will mostly consist of organic nutrients.
Whether you are using different kinds of manure to take care of your soil, make sure to check them first and do your research. This way, it won’t be a series of endless trials and errors. A few of these are good, but a lot will cost you more in the long run.
Too, the best manure for gardens relies upon what you will use and is available. Any of these common varieties can be useful to your garden one day. Just remember that you need the manure to be fully composted for at least 6 months. Another option would be to add it raw and put it into the soil at least a season before planting.