Compost Round Up: “Manure happens”

Although different than what we do, another common composting source is that of composting animal manure. What’s composting manure all about?

Here are 10 facts about composting manure:

1. Manure from animals such as horses, goats, chickens and cows can be composted.

2. Manure should not be viewed as waste, rather an alternative to fertilizers and thus an economic resource.

3. Few weed seeds remain viable in properly composted manure, which can reduce the amount of herbicide or tillage needed for weed control.

4. Composting reduces the volume and density of manure 50-65 percent.

5. Manure compost can supply slow-release micro-nutrients for crop production, improve soil structure and promote growth of earthworms.

6. Pile temperatures should exceed 131 degrees F for 15 days and be turned a minimum of 5 times to kill pathogens. Carbon/nitrogen ratios should be about 30/1, moisture content at 50% and oxygen needs to be incorporated through routine turning.

7. The site of the pile needs to be in an area not prone to groundwater contamination through leaching or where leachate can run off into surface water.

8. After heating cycles have subsided, manure compost should cure properly. Applying immature compost can cause insect swarms, nitrogen immobilization, malodors or phytotoxicity (plant injury).

9. Understanding how to manage manure is vital! Applying too little can result in low yields and nutrient deficiency. Applying too much could mean a phosphorous runoff, nitrate leaching, and excessive vegetative growth.

10. Play it safe and get your compost tested for nutrient levels!

In conclusion, composting food scraps and animal manure are similar in their ability to reuse waste, create healthy outcomes for crop production, and save money. Composting manure, however, needs to monitored in order to prevent water contamination, exposure to pathogens and pollution. Both methods have their pro’s and con’s and it’s important to explore the best fit for you! Learn more below:

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