Compost: What’s The Difference?
Composting is a method of composting which involves the use of plant material such as wood chips or leaves. It is considered a low-impact way to create healthy soil because it does not require water, energy, nutrients or labor to produce. Composts are produced from plants that have died naturally due to disease, pests or other causes.
Manure is a type of organic matter made up of dead animals, insects and other living organisms. It consists primarily of decaying flesh, blood and bone. The term “manure” refers to both the substance itself and its application.
Manure may be used directly as fertilizer or mixed with other materials to make potting mixes for garden beds or lawns.
The main difference between manures is their source (i.e. whether they come from animals or plants).
Animal manure comes from animals killed for food. Plant manure comes from crops grown for human consumption. Composts are created through the biological decomposition of organic matter, usually in soil.
Organic Fertilizer: Which Is Better For Gardeners?
Organic fertilizers are generally derived from natural sources such as grasses, clover, weeds and other plants that grow in your area. Slowly decomposing manure is a natural source of nutrients for the soil. Other natural sources of fertilizer include blood and bone, fish and seaweed.
Liquid fertilizers are concentrated forms of organic fertilizer, such as the liquid runoff that results from meat packing plants or scraps from fish processing plants.
“Green” or “gray” (sewage) water is sometimes used. This type of fertilizer requires lots of caution because it may contain harmful bacteria, heavy metals or other pollutants.
Manure is the solid, desiccated remains of animals that have been slaughtered for food.
While animal manure is not as attractive to use in the garden as, say, grass clippings or dead leaves, it does have some advantages: it’s free, easy to get and widely available. On the other hand, it has to be handled very carefully to avoid spreading pathogens or parasites that can cause disease.
Manure is often used as a soil conditioner, decreasing water runoff and helping to prevent erosion. In areas with little topsoil, such as in parts of the southwestern United States, piles of manure are used to prevent wind and water from eroding soil. Manure is also sometimes mixed with other ingredients to form compost and potting soil.
The use of animal manure in the home garden can help to:
Improve the soil texture
Decrease water loss
Decrease soil erosion
Improve the health of plants grown in that soil
Make growing vegetables and fruits easier for the home gardener.
Is Manure Good Or Bad For Your Garden?
Manure is most often used in organic gardening because it is such a readily available organic source for nutrients. The disadvantage of using manure in the garden is that it is also a food source for many types of microbes, bacteria, and other organisms that can cause disease in humans and plants.
This is why manure must be sanitized before using it in the garden to prevent the spread of dangerous organisms.
Manure can be used immediately after animals have been fed, but for maximum benefit, some recommend that it should be allowed to “ripen” or “age” for from four to eight weeks. By allowing the manure to sit for this period of time, the microorganisms within the manure begin to die off, making it less likely to spread disease and toxins throughout your garden.
Manure must NEVER be used in a garden immediately after it has been in contact with animals that have received any type of antibiotic treatment, or animals that have been sick in any way. The antibiotics and other chemical compounds within the manure will be concentrated within the plants you grow in that soil. This could ultimately lead to toxic or ineffective vegetables and fruits.
Is It Actually Better For The Soil?
The use of manure also has the potential to actually harm your soil, rather than help it. Although it does add nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium, it can also deplete the soil of other necessary nutrients. If too much manure is used, it can ultimately ruin the soil’s structure and make it less fertile. Always be sure to use manure in conjunction with a good soil to ensure that you’re getting the best nutrients for your plants.
The benefits of using animal manures in the garden are clear: it can help to keep pathogens and disease from spreading, it can be easily obtained and it is a free source of nutrients. As long as you follow the proper sanitation procedures, there should be no danger to using animal manures in your garden.
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Sources & references used in this article:
Manure-based biogas fermentation residues–Friend or foe of soil fertility? by H Insam, M Gómez-Brandón, J Ascher – Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 2015 – Elsevier
Renewables, food (in) security, and inflation regimes in the coastline Mediterranean countries (CMCs): the environmental pros and cons by AA Alola, K Yalçiner, UV Alola – Environmental Science and Pollution …, 2019 – Springer
Biochar usage: Pros and cons by JA Ippolito, RD Lentz, J Novak… – … , March 3-4, 2011 …, 2011 – eprints.nwisrl.ars.usda.gov
Potential compost benefits for restoration of soils disturbed by urban development by CG Cogger – Compost science & utilization, 2005 – Taylor & Francis