Currently, in order to develop high yields and maintain soil fertility, farmers everywhere use existing mineral fertilizers that contain elements taken out of the soil as a result of harvesting. It is important to know that fats only increase crop yields in the short term, but at the same time, they reduce the amount of humus in the soil, i.e. the natural fertility of the soil.
In recent years, the number of landowners who have switched to organic farming has been growing. In this case, ecology is based on the use of only natural products in everyday life, which cannot be obtained without returning to Mother Earth those substances that are taken away by harvesting.
A worthy alternative to “chemical health” is natural fertilizers, the waste from animals eating plant food. Such an organic fertilizer is manure.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ORGANIC AND MINERAL FERTILIZERS?
Mineral fertilizers are produced by chemical plants and, when applied to the soil, are a foreign substance to the plant and have to be converted into a usable form.
- In order to be used by plants, the elements of nutrient salts must be converted into a chelated form.
- Mineral fertilizers contain only a small percentage of the chemical elements required by plants.
- Fertilizers are applied according to the parameters of the soil and the needs of the plant.
- Mineral fertilizers do not contribute to the formation of humus, but rather reduce the natural fertility of the soil.
Nutrients from organic fertilizers are more easily absorbed by plants because they are the products of animal life activities and are their natural elements in the ecosystem. The only limitation in farming: in improper agricultural practices, nitrites can accumulate in fruits and vegetables. Organic waste forms humus during disposal, which determines the level of soil fertility.
TYPES OF MANURE AND THEIR CHARACTERISTICS
The following types of manure are obtained from animals.
- Cattle manure (cow dung).
- Horse manure.
- Poultry manure (chicken manure).
- Rabbit manure.
- Sheep manure, etc.
Each type of manure has its own characteristics and composition and affects the soil for different periods of time.
Effectiveness of cow manure: its maximum effectiveness is shown within 2-3 years on light sandy and sandy loamy soils and within 4-6 years on heavy clay soils.
Poultry manure will decompose within one year. This is the most fast-acting organic fertilizer. It is easy to use in fertilizers. However, poultry manure is so concentrated that it can be used as fertilizer only when diluted 10-12 times.
Horse manure is one of the best. The porous structure and rich chemical composition with high decomposition temperature make it most effective when used in the open air and in greenhouses. Due to the mechanization of agriculture, the amount of horse manure in farms has been greatly reduced. It has become more difficult to obtain than cattle manure.
Gardeners use pig manure to a lesser extent. It has a high nitrogen content (with a caustic ammonia odor) and a large number of spirochetes. It cannot be used fresh.
It is usually mixed with horse manure, added to dolomite powder, and composted for a year for natural disinfection (from worms) before it goes into the soil. Hog manure is good because it decomposes at a high temperature. Combined with horse manure, a year of fermentation will produce high-quality compost.
If necessary, manure from other animals and birds can be used to improve soil parameters and increase soil fertility.
USEFUL PROPERTIES OF MANURE
Manure is based on the excrement of different animals mixed with bedding materials (straw, grass, sawdust, and other plant residues). Depending on the degree of decomposition, manure can be divided into several categories.
- Fresh fecal litter and litter-free manure.
- Semi-decomposed manure.
- Decomposed manure or humus.
Fresh manure without bedding, not diluted with water, very thick, not flowing, with the consistency of homemade sour cream (can be cut with a knife like butter).
Fresh bedding manure easily keeps its shape and is mixed with straw or other materials (sawdust, fine shavings).
The composition of slurry is less concentrated than that of fresh manure. It is mainly a nitrogen-potassium liquid fertilizer used for the fertilization of all horticultural and vegetable crops. The slurry is diluted in a ratio of 1:5-6 in order not to burn the plants. It is poured in after watering. Use for moistening when spreading compost.
Semi-rotten means that it has been lying outdoors for some time (3-6 months) and is partially dry and rotten. The bedding has decayed and can be easily crumbled in the hands. It is used as a basic fertilizer for digging, especially in humus-poor soils.
Mulch is a completely decomposed loose material that does not show the separate components of litter and other inclusions. Manure is the most common natural fertilizer used by gardeners.
Compared to fresh manure, humus contains 2-3 times less nutrients and nitrogen, which allows you to use it directly to feed your plants during the growing season.
CONTENT OF THE MAIN NUTRIENTS IN MANURE
The composition of manure includes components that provide nutrients to plants and improve the physical and chemical properties of the soil and its structure. As a source of organic matter, manure forms humus compounds during the fermentation process, which increase the natural fertility of the soil.
Manure in any state (fresh, semi-digested, humus) is a source of macro and microelements such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, silicon, sulfur, chloride, magnesium, boron, manganese, cobalt, copper, zinc, and molybdenum. The active microorganisms in manure are the main source of energy for the soil microbiota.
All types of manure are alkaline, with an alkalinity index of pH=8-9 units. The pH of cow manure is 8.1, of horse manure 7.8, and of pig manure 7.9. Naturally, their application alkalizes the soil and reduces its acidity. The content of the main nutrients is shown in the average values in Table 1.
Table 1: Chemical composition of the main types of manure
|Content, g/2.2 Lb manure weight||Nitrogen||Phosphorus||Potassium||Calcium|
|Poultry (chicken and duck)||16.0||13.0||8.0||24.0|
MANURE UTILIZATION RATE
Unlike mineral fertilizers, the nutrient content in organic manure is much lower, but organic manure improves the physical and chemical properties of the soil, loosens it, increases its absorption capacity, enriches the useful microbiota, and provides plants with the necessary nutrients in an accessible and easily digestible form.
Table 2. manure application rates
|Fertilizer, manure||Soil application, 2.2 Lb/11 sq ft area|
|Cow manure||15-22 Lb/11 sq. ft.|
|Horse manure||6-11 Lb/11 sq ft|
|Swine manure||9-13 Lb/11 sq ft, some gardeners suggest up to 22-33 Lb/11 sq ft for fall digging|
|Poultry (chickens and ducks)||2-7 Lb/11 sq. ft. 1:2.5-3 Gal of water in dressing solution|
FRESH MANURE APPLICATION RULES
Since fresh manure is the most concentrated fertilizer, it is applied to the soil in the fall and winter in fields without fruit and vegetable plants. The depth of embedding is 10-12inch (25-30 cm), and less often – up to 16inch (40 cm).
Spring application of fertilizer is provided only for medium and late maturing crops. For early crops, manure is applied only in autumn digging (Table 3).
Table 3: Frequency and rate of application of fresh cow manure
|Crop||Application rate, 2.2 Lb/11 sq ft area||Frequency of application|
|Onion, cabbage, garlic||9-13 Lb/11 sq ft||Start in fall or spring|
|Cucumber, zucchini, papaya, pumpkin, melon||13-18 Lb/11 sq. ft.||From fall or spring|
|Tomatoes, medium, and late cabbage||9-11 Lb/11 sq ft, cabbage up to 13 Lb/11 sq ft||From fall or spring|
|Dill, celery||11-13 Lb/11 sq. ft.||From fall or spring|
|Carrots, potatoes, beets||9 Lb/11 sq. ft.||From fall or spring|
|Berries (currants, raspberries, currants)||Up to 2inch (5cm) layer||Annually in autumn only|
|Seed and drupe crops||Up to 6.5 Lb per tree||In the fall, every 2-3 years|
|Strawberries, strawberry||22 Lb/11 sq ft row spacing||In the fall, every 3 years|
|Grapes||Solution: 1 part cowpea for 20 parts water||Fall, every 2-4 years|
In winter, fresh manure is spread on the snow. After the snow melts, it is on the soil and is turned over in the spring. The embedding depth is the same as in autumn.
The standard for spreading snow is 1.5 times. This is due to the fact that in winter, some nutrients are lost (nitrogen). Usually, the manure is left in the pit for 2-3 months before application. During this time, part of the weed seeds dies due to the high temperature of the “burning manure”. If manure from the barn enters the field immediately, it is best to leave it fallow to destroy weeds during the summer.
Remember that overfeeding any crop, especially vegetable crops, with organic matter can drastically reduce storage capacity. Vegetables, especially root crops, are more often affected by root rot and increased incidence of Phytophthora and powdery mildew. To avoid overfeeding plants, use the data in Table 4.
Table 4: Mass volume of manure, 2.2 Lb (1 kg) / 2.5 Gal (10 L) per bucket
|Fresh faces||Bucket of 2.5 Gal (10 liters)|
|Cow manure (without bedding)||20 Lb (9 kg)|
|Cow manure (with bedding)||11 Lb (5 kg)|
|Horse manure||18 Lb (8 kg)|
|Slurry||26 Lb (12 kg)|
|Humus||15 Lb (7 kg)|
FERTILIZATION WITH A FRESH FORAGE MOWER
Fertilization of vegetable and horticultural crops can be done in summer with cowpea cutters. A low concentration of the fermented aqueous solution is used for fertilization.
Preparation of the solution: Fill any container (the galvanized bucket is more convenient) with 1/3 of manure, add water and cover with a lid. Stir once a day. The fermentation process lasts 1-2 weeks. This is a mother wine.
To fertilize berries and fruit trees, prepare a working solution: take 1 bucket of womb solution from the container and dilute it 3-4 times with water. Fertilization is carried out at the tender leaf stage. The working solution is applied after watering under the roots at the rate of 2.5 Gal (10 liters) of working solution per 11 square feet. Be sure to cover the ground with mulch.
For vegetable crops, the working solution is prepared at a rate of 1.8-2.5 Gal (8-10 liters) of water per 0.25 Gal (1 liter) of the master solution. Fertilization is done under the mulch during or after watering, 1-2 times during the vegetation period, alternating with mineral fertilizers (if needed).
APPLICATION OF SEMI-DECOMPOSED MANURE
Semi-decomposed manure is less concentrated and can be used directly as a dressing or as a mulch.
In order to apply manure, prepare a solution with a concentration of 10 parts of water to 1 part of manure. Mix and apply under orchard crops.
Trees are watered on the outside diameter of the canopy in loose soil or in a furrow, cut into 1-2 rows around the canopy.
Under bushes, apply fertilizer 6-8inch (15-20 cm) from the bushes.
Plant vegetable crops in furrows between rows (if they are wide) or in furrows along the bed.
It is not possible to pour a semi-decomposed cowpea solution on the roots of the plants.
If necessary, cover the fertilizer with soil, water, and mulch.
Semidecomposables are a good fertilizer for cabbage, squash, and spinach. With this fertilizer, these crops will be excellent predecessors to root crops, bell peppers, tomatoes, and eggplants.
USE OF ROTTEN MANURE
Shaping of humus
Decaying manure, or humus, is the main source of humus in the soil. Excess humus is a homogeneous loose substance, dark brown in color, with the spring weather of a healthy soil matrix. It is formed by the fermentation of manure under the influence of microorganisms.
As a result, humus, humic acids, and simpler mineral compounds are formed. The humus of each composition is very light. There is 1540-1760 Lb (700-800 kg) of humus in 40inch. In a standard 2.5 Gal (10 L) bucket, it is equivalent to 13-15 Lb (6-7 kg). Healthy mature humus soils are odorless.
The higher the humus content of the soil, the more fertile the substrate is considered to be. For example, soils near the Great Lakes in North America or in the “black lands” of the United States contain 80-90% humus, while in sod podzolic soils the amount is reduced to 60-70%.
Properties of humus soil
Humus soils have the following agronomic properties.
- Improves soil porosity.
- Increases the ability to retain water.
- enhances photosynthesis, thus increasing crop yield.
- activates plant growth and development.
- Increases resistance to diseases and pests.
- Fills the soil substrate with beneficial microflora.
- Reduces the accumulation of heavy metals in the product.
- It can improve the ornamental value of flowering crops, etc.
How to prepare high-quality humus soil?
- Set aside an area in a shady place for storing the parts.
- Enclose it with simple materials so that the front wall is open
- Pile the components in layers of 4-6inch (10-15cm); components include straw, straw debris, leaves, fresh manure, semi-digested material
- Each layer was watered with water or diluted slurry, cowpea solution
- the top is covered with a film or other impermeable material (from rainwater)
- Air must enter through the openings in the film coverings.
- Turned regularly and watered in dry weather; humidity during fermentation between 50-60% and temperature below 77-86°F (25-30°C).
- To accelerate the fermentation, it is recommended to sprinkle preparations (organic microbial inoculants) on the composition layer.
If all requirements are met, mature humus can be obtained within 1-2 months.
In addition to the suggested methods, there are other ways to quickly process manure into humus or compost, which can also go for fertilizing and applying crops in the garden. Examples include vermicomposting with California worms, aerobic and anaerobic composting.
APPLICATION OF HUMUS IN FARM PLOTS
Humus soils are used to.
- improve soil fertility.
- fertilize and dress crops during the growing season
- prepare soil mixtures for seedlings
- prepare soil mixtures for indoor flowering crops, etc.
Application rules of humus soil
Humus contains a very small amount of ammonia and will not harm the root system of plants. Therefore, humus can be applied as a primary fertilizer or as a supplemental fertilizer during the warm season.
Apply humus to a 4-6inch (10-15 cm) layer of soil under the shovel in the spring in preparation for seeding/planting in the recommended amount. On average, 22-33 Lb (10-15 kg) of humus was used per 11 square feet of area.
Humus was used as a mulch for all crops and, after decaying in the summer, served as an additional fertilizer for the plants grown.
Soil mixtures for sprouting and flowering crops contain humus. However, while nursery soil mixtures can contain up to 50% humus, moderate amounts of humus are applied to flowering crops. Excess humus can cause “greasing” of jonquils, serpentine, and cosmos. To the detriment of flowering, the plants will increase asexual reproduction.
For houseplants, the standard for humus is to reach 1/3 of the volume of the prepared substrate.
Raspberries and other shrubs can be covered with a 2inch (5cm) thick mulch from spring to July and do not have to be incorporated into the soil.
In the greenhouse, humus is applied to the bed (in addition to the main substrate) in the first year at 90-130 Lb/11 sq ft. In subsequent years, 33-55 Lb/11 sq. ft. was applied annually until the soil changed.
In summer, humus is diluted with water and used for foliar and root-feeding at a rate of no more than 1 part per 10-15 parts of water.
Humus as well as fresh manure was used as a warming bed.
The use of manure and a brief list of its processing types have clearly highlighted the benefits of organic matter for the land. By using organic manure, many problems of home gardening can be solved, including the main one – increasing the natural fertility of the plot.
Dear reader Share your methods of handling and using manure, humus, and compost for vegetables and horticultural crops. Share your experience in running a natural economy with minimal use of inappropriate soil fertilizers and other chemical means of increasing soil fertility, increasing yields, and improving crop immunity to disease and pests.
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