In this article we walk you through the workings of manure and how it helps plants to grow. Learn about the benefits of manure and how to use it in your garden.
As gardeners, we know that fertilizer is essential to plant growth. But did you know that manure is one of the best fertilizers around for helping plants? Manure contains all the nutrients that plants need to thrive. Not only does manure provide these critical nutrients, but it also helps to improve soil quality and drainage.
This article will explore the benefits of using manure as a fertilizer and how it helps plants grow. Before we get into how manure helps plants grow, it is important to understand what it is. So, we'll start with a quick overview of manure and its composition.
What is Manure?
Manure is a type of organic matter made up of biodegradable waste. It is often used as a plant fertilizer because it contains many essential nutrients for plant growth. You can use the waste from various animals, including cows, pigs, chickens, and horses. It's not just the animal waste, though. Manure also contains bedding, food scraps, and other organic matter. You can add biodegradable material to manure to make it more nutrient-rich.
Manure contains many nutrients essential for plant growth, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It's also filled with other micronutrients that are important for plant health. Manure is a great way to fertilize plants because it helps provide them with everything they need to grow healthy and strong.
On the plus side, it's completely natural and harmless to the environment, unlike some chemical fertilizers. It has multiple uses as it can be used as a fertilizer, a soil amendment, or organic pest control.
How is Manure Prepared?
Manure is prepared by a process called composting. This is where organic matter, like manure, is decomposed by bacteria and other microorganisms. The method of composting breaks down the organic matter into simpler compounds, like water and carbon dioxide. This process also releases nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, essential for plant growth.
Composting is a slow process that takes place over several weeks or months. During this time, the manure must be turned regularly to aerate it and speed up the decomposition process. Once the composting process is complete, the manure is ready to be used as a fertilizer. It can be applied to the soil in various ways, including spreading it on the surface or mixing it into the soil. Manure helps to increase the amount of organic matter in the soil, which is important for improving its structure.
Types of Manure
There are several types of manures, but they can be broadly divided into the following three categories:
Green manure is made up of green plants, like grasses and legumes. These plants are rich in nitrogen, a critical nutrient for plant growth. Green manure is often used as a cover crop, which means it is grown to protect the soil from erosion and improve fertility.
Farmyard manure comprises animal waste, bedding, and food scraps. It is an excellent source of nutrients for plants and helps improve the soil's structure increasing the mineral supply. The primary benefit of Farmyard manure is that it enhances the soil's capacity to retain more water and nutrients.
Compost manure constitutes decomposed organic matter, like leaves and food scraps. It is an awesome source of plant nutrients and helps improve the soil's water retention capacity. Compost manure also helps to increase the amount of organic matter in the soil, which is important for improving its fertility.
How Does Manure Help Plants Grow?
In this segment, we will discuss how manure helps plants.
Adds Organic Matter to Soil
As manure decomposes, it adds organic matter to the soil. This is important because organic matter helps improve the soil's structure, which makes it easier for plants to take up nutrients.
Aids in Water Retention
Water retention is important because it helps the plant's root system to access water when the soil is dry. Manure can help improve the soil's water retention capacity, making it easier for plants to access the water they need.
Contributes Key Nutrients
Manure is a brilliant source of essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These nutrients work to enhance the soil's fertility, making it easier for plants to grow and thrive.
Prevents Soil Erosion
Manure can help prevent soil erosion by adding organic matter to the soil and improving its structure. This is crucial because it helps to keep the soil in place, preventing it from being washed away by rain or wind.
Improves Soil Drainage
Soil drainage is a property of soil that allows water to move through it. It is important because it helps prevent waterlogging and damaging plant roots. Using manure is an organic way to improve soil drainage.
Stimulates Plant Growth
Manure contains nutrients that are essential for plant growth. In addition, the organic matter in manure can help to stimulate the activity of beneficial microbes in the soil, which can further help to enhance plant growth.
How is it Different from Fertilizers?
Manure and fertilizers are both used to enhance plant growth, but a few key distinctions set them apart. These are:
- Fertilizers are typically made up of inorganic materials, like chemicals and minerals. Manure, on the other hand, is made up of organic materials, like animal waste and plant matter.
- Fertilizers are often applied in small amounts because they are concentrated sources of nutrients. Manure is applied in larger amounts because it is a less concentrated source of nutrients.
- Fertilizers are prepared in factories, while manure can easily be prepared on the farm.
- Manure is comparatively less rich in nutrients, but it does not have any side effects.
- Manure fertilizer provides a lot of humus to the soil, and fertilizers do not.
- Manure can be used as a soil amendment, while fertilizers cannot.
How to Use Manure in Your Garden?
Knowing what manure is and its benefits to your plants are not enough. All this knowledge can be deemed worthless if you don't know how to properly use manure in your garden. Here we have shared some tips on how to use manure in your garden:
- Do not use fresh manure: Fresh manure can contain harmful bacteria that can be detrimental to your plants. If you must use fresh manure, make sure to compost it first (let it sit for at least six months) to allow the bacteria to break down.
- Get pathogen-free manure: If you purchase manure, make sure it's pathogen-free. Cow, rabbit, and horse manure are safe options, and avoid manure from dogs, pigs, or cats as it's high in the pathogen.
- Know when to use fresh manure: You can add fresh manure directly to the soil but not on growing plants. Mix it well with the soil in fall, and it will be ready to use in spring. If the manure isn't aged well, it can "burn" your plants.
- Add the right amount: Too much manure can be just as harmful as too little. Add 2 to 3 layers of manure to the top soil layer and mix it well.
- Find other uses: Apart from fertilizer, manure has multiple uses. It can be used as a mulch, compost, or soil amendment. Use manure in such instances and enhance the overall health of your plants.
Pros and Cons of Using Manure in Your Garden
Like anything else, there are pros and cons to using manure to help the plants in your garden grow. It's important to be aware of both before you decide to use them.
- It's a natural and organic way to improve your soil.
- It can help to prevent soil erosion.
- It can improve soil drainage.
- It's a great source of humus.
- Manure does not harm the environment.
- Its by-product, like biogas, can be used as a fuel.
- It's a cost-effective way to improve your plants' growth.
- It's easy to transport and can be sourced from local farms.
- It can contain harmful bacteria if it's not composted properly.
- It isn't as effective as chemical fertilizer with nutrients.
- It can attract pests and rodents if not used correctly.
- Too much manure can damage plants.
- It has a strong odor.