Optimal Manure Application: Types and Garden Tips

Solid and liquid animal waste is referred to as manure. It is often mixed with bedding materials (straw or hay) to improve the soil. Animal manure, which is a natural organic material, is used to improve soil. For best results, it is important to know the amount of manure you should add to your garden.
Manure Benefits
Manure, when added to compost, improves soil texture and adds nutrients.

Manure can be used from any animal, including wild animals and farm animals that are herbivores. The most common varieties are cow, sheep, horses, and chicken manure, but there are many others. Chicken manure, also called “black gold”, is a great addition to a garden. Human, cat, dog and pig manures should not be used for gardening. They may contain pathogens harmful to humans, and their nutrients are not beneficial to plants.
How to add manure to your garden
It does take some patience to use this free source of garden nutrition. Fresh manure contains a lot of nitrogen and ammonia, which can burn plants when it comes into contact with them.

Composting or letting the manure rot should be done for six to twelve months before using it in your garden. Manure can be thrown in a compost heap or allowed to rot naturally, but will smell if done this way.

Allow the manure to dry and then mix it in with composting materials such as dried leaves, shredded paper or brown leaves. Manure rotting in anaerobic environments produces the strongest odor. This is why it is better to mix it with compost than just let it rot.
How much manure should you use?
Too much manure can damage your plants. Use 200 pounds of manure composted per 100 square feet of garden space as a general rule. Use 70 pounds of manure compost for chicken manure on a 100-square-foot plot.
When to add manure
Some farmers top their fields in the fall with manure and let it age over the winter. It works, but is not the most efficient way to use manure. The USDA National Organic Program recommends that you apply manure to your garden at least 120-days before harvesting vegetables that will come into contact with soil (such as low-growing leaves and root crops), and 90 days prior for tomatoes and peppers.

Manure Selection
If you are picking up manure from a pile, choose the oldest one. The manure may have rotted for a few months. It’s ready to use sooner, and shouldn’t have the same smell as fresh manure.
Do not be scared of manure with lots of bedding. Fresh compost will rot faster if it contains bedding.
If you are unsure, ask if manure was sprayed. Some farmers spray pesticides onto manure piles in order to control flies.
Bagged manure is more expensive, but already composted and ready for use.
Use it as you would compost. Plan to amend your beds annually.
Chicken and rabbit manure has the strongest smell, while sheep manure is milder. Sheep manure also tends to be drier and more easily spread.
Common Animal Manures – Nutrient content
It is important to understand that NPK stands for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Manure’s nitrogen content is the most important, but there are also significant amounts of phosphorus, and potassium. You should test your soil to ensure you are using the correct fertilizer. Here are the NPK values for the most common types of manure.

AnimalN-P-K Ratio
Chicken 1.1, 0.8 and 0.5
Cow 0.25-0.15-0.25
Horse 0.7-.0.3 – 0.6
Llama1.5-0.2-1.1
Rabbit2.4-1.4-0.6
Sheep 0.7 -.0.3 – 0.9
Manure sources
You can find free manure at small horse stables and zoos. Farmers, stable owners and zookeepers have begun to sell manure as an extra source of income as gardening has become more popular. Even if it’s not free, you can still get it for a reasonable price, especially if it’s picked up by yourself.


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