Composting Manure / What’s Compost
There is no better way to treat organic waste such as animal manure than to compost it. Livestock manure accounts for a large part of the total waste generated and can cause environmental problems (e.g., air, water, and soil pollution) but using composting treatment can reduce these problems and composted manure can be applied to agricultural soil as nitrogen fertilizer.
Fresh manure is high in nitrogen and can cause cellular death to the root system of plants. It can also be a source of pathogens and problematic in that way unless allowed to decompose. Composting manure can help solve these problems.
Composting has numerous advantages. It is the main requirement for healthy planting. It can take place almost anytime even without exerting effort.
Composting, often described as nature’s way of recycling, is the biological process of breaking up of organic waste such as kitchen waste, dog poop, leaves, grass trimmings, newspaper, worms, and coffee grounds, etc., into an extremely useful humus-like substance by various micro-organisms including bacteria, fungi and actinomycetes in the presence of oxygen.
Actinomycetes are similar to fungus in the way they grow and spread, but its distinguishing elements are that the types of materials they are efficient at decomposing. The active nature in this microscopic bacteria and the sheer number present (about 10 million per 1 gram of soil), make them highly effective at breaking down materials like tree bark and other hard organic material.
An efficient compost process will stabilize the breakdown and loss of valuable nutrients in the manure. The stabilized nutrients can then be made available for future plant growth. Fresh manure tends to lose its valuable nutrients into the air and water when the C:N ratio is out of balance or when the pile is exposed to uncontrolled amounts of rainwater.
However, the composting process converts nitrogen into a less soluble form; it is less likely to be washed out of manure and into ground water and surface water. Excessive amounts of nitrate in drinking water can cause health problems and leaching nitrogen compounds produce nuisance odors.
Horse manure is a favorite soil amendment used by farmers, gardeners and landscapers to enrich the soil with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, and to improve soil structure and increase water retention. Horse manure has a C:N ratio that is almost perfectly balanced to the needs of the microorganisms which perform composting action. Generally, poultry manure is highest in nitrogen content, followed by hog, sheep, dairy, and horse manure.
Composting Manure / The Benefits
There are many benefits of composted manure. It reduces mass and volume that results in lower hauling costs. Secondly, it reduces odor as well as kills pathogens.
Moreover, it also kills weed seeds. It also improves transportability, increases water retention of soil and acts as a soil conditioner.
Furthermore, it improves nutrient qualities because the nutrients from compost are released slowly and steadily. Lastly, it decreases pollutants as it stabilizes the volatile nitrogen into large protein particles, reducing losses.
Composting Manure / Disadvantages
However, there are also a few disadvantages of composting manure. These include loss of ammonia, amount of time and labor involved, and cost of equipment (initial and operating).
In a nutshell, compost adds nutrients to the soil but in smaller quantities than manures. Fresh manure can burn crops and if added too soon to harvest may contaminate veggies.
The things compost adds besides soil conditioners are the organisms that help break down things like manures and plant materials.
Hence, the combination of the two is better than either one alone.
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