Thanks for adopting new technologies and smarter planting practices, farmers can achieve far higher agricultural productivity than in the past. However, some traditional methods still have been used to improve crop yields such as adding manure to the soil. So, why do farmers put manure on their fields and how to apply it? What follows will be definitely worth your time.
Why do farmers put manure on their fields?
Farmers apply manure in their fields for many reasons. As manure is an excellent nutrient source, it is necessary for the fertility of the soil and the growth of plants.
In some places, the soil lacks essential nutrients for crops since the farmers grow one crop after the other in the same field. So, if the manuring is not applied on time, the result of weak plants is inevitable.
1. Various nutrients contains in manure
There is a wide range of nutrients containing in manure, such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), and sulfur (S). Manure nutrients are from the feed that the animals have consumed. In fact, about 75% of the nitrogen and more than 65% of phosphorus found in feeds of a steer is excreted in the manure.
It is known that the majority of the nutrients that animals eat end up in their manure.
The actual amount of nutrients in manure primarily depends on the kind and handling of manure. Of all animal manures, poultry manure contains the greatest amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulfur, whereas horse manure has a lower nutrient content.
If the manure is mixed in with bedding, it will have fewer nutrients per pound as compared to pure manure.
2. Fresh manure breaks down faster than composted manure
In comparison with composted manure, fresh manure releases faster. The manure breaking time of poultry is more quickly than that of horses, cows, and other animals. Generally, the more nitrogen that manure contains the faster the nitrogen is released.
The organic matter in manure plays an important role in building soil health, making it more productive and easier to manage. In addition, the organic matter in manure is also valuable as it makes soil less likely to affect erosion, more likely to absorb water, and more resilient to extreme conditions. Although it costs a great deal of money, organic fertilizer has significant benefits that inorganic fertilizer does not provide.
3. Raw manure is an affordable and eco-friendly solution
When it comes to spending, raw manure provides a cheaper source of nutrients as against chemical fertilizers. If a livestock farmer who also grows plenty of crops, no extra cost involved at all. In a long run, using raw manure as a fertilizer can be an economically effective sharing between neighboring farms.
How to apply the manure?
1. Too large an amount of manure can be harmful to crops
Applying too much manure may result in reducing crop productivity. Furthermore, it can lead to nitrogen filtering into wells and aquifers. Accordingly, farmers should follow the ration in the table below for optimum growth and production.
|Tons of manure/acre to supply N|
|Manure||50 lb N||100 lb N||150 lb N|
|Horse (no sawdust bedding)||60||120||180|
|Separated dairy solids||100||200||300|
2. Manure application should be completed close to planting time
In order to get the most value from manure nutrients, spreading cow manure on fields should be near the planting time. Applying manure in the adequate amount with the right method at this time can avoid excessive nutrient loss through leaching, washing away, or runoff of nutrients.
If you lose nutrients, the manure loses value itself. In the end, you may pose a threat to the nearby groundwater, like wells, streams, and ponds. It can be a serious problem for nutrient-rich manures like poultry litter.
3. Avoid using fresh manure on some kinds of crops
Fresh manure sometimes contains pathogens (such as bacteria, viruses, etc.) that can cause a multitude of diseases in animals and humans, like Salmonella and certain strains of E. coli. They are one of the most serious pathogens diseases found in animal manure.
Pathogens in fresh manure can be a risk to crops that grow in or close to the soil and that are consumed raw. It is advised that fresh manure should not be applied to some types of crops such as carrots, lettuce, and other greens, and strawberries.
Pathogens will naturally die over time. If you use manure on the mentioned plants, you need to put time on your side. You can do that by:
- Aging or thoroughly composting the manure before using
- Waiting at least four months from the manure applying time until harvesting
Manure is not only impacts positively on crop production but also minimizes the costs and protects the environment. Therefore, When you see a farmer sitting on the best tractor seat to spread manure on fields, make sure you understand how important it is. Having knowledge of manure is really important if you care about crop growth and soil structure.