Manure


Manure
Animal manure is often a mixture of animal feces and bedding straw, as in this example from a stable. A horse grazes in his pasture.

Manure is organic matter used as organic fertilizer in agriculture. Manures contribute to the fertility of the soil by adding organic matter and nutrients, such as nitrogen, that are trapped by bacteria in the soil. Higher organisms then feed on the fungi and bacteria in a chain of life that comprises the soil food web.

In the past, the term “manure” included inorganic fertilizers, but this usage is now very rare.[1][Full citation needed]

Contents

Types

There are three main classes of manures used in soil management:

Animal manures

Most animal manure is feces. Common forms of animal manure include farmyard manure (FYM) or farm slurry (liquid manure). FYM also contains plant material (often straw), which has been used as bedding for animals and has absorbed the feces and urine. Agricultural manure in liquid form, known as slurry, is produced by more intensive livestock rearing systems where concrete or slats are used, instead of straw bedding. Manure from different animals has different qualities and requires different application rates when used as fertilizer. For example horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, humans (sewage), and guano from seabirds and bats all have different properties.[2] For instance, sheep manure is high in nitrogen and potash, while pig manure is relatively low in both. Horse manure also contains lots of weed seeds, as horses do not digest seeds the way that cattle do. Chicken litter, coming from a bird, is very concentrated in nitrogen and protein and is prized for both properties.

Animal manures may be adulterated or contaminated with other animal products, such as wool (shoddy and other hair), feathers, blood, and bone. Livestock feed can be mixed with the manure due to spillage. For example, chickens are often fed meat and bone meal, an animal product, which can end up becoming mixed with chicken litter.

Compost

Compost is the decomposed remnants of organic materials – usually of plant origin, but often including some animal dung or bedding.

Plant manures

Green manures are crops grown for the express purpose of plowing them in, thus increasing fertility through the incorporation of nutrients and organic matter into the soil. Leguminous plants such as clover are often used for this, as they fix nitrogen using Rhizobia bacteria in specialized nodes in the root structure.

Other types of plant matter used as manure include the contents of the rumens of slaughtered ruminants, spent hops (left over from brewing beer) and seaweed.

Manure on a wall.

Uses of manure

Animal dung has been used for centuries as a fertilizer for farming, as it improves the soil structure (aggregation), so that it holds more nutrients and water, and becomes more fertile. Animal manure also encourages soil microbial activity, which promotes the soil's trace mineral supply, improving plant nutrition. It also contains some nitrogen and other nutrients that assist the growth of plants.

Manures with a particularly unpleasant odor (such as human sewage or slurry from intensive pig farming) are usually knifed (injected) directly into the soil to reduce release of the odor. Manure from pigs and cattle is usually spread on fields using a manure spreader. Due to the relatively lower level of proteins in vegetable matter, herbivore manure has a milder smell than the dung of carnivores or omnivores – for example, elephant dung is practically odorless. However, herbivore slurry that has undergone anaerobic fermentation may develop more unpleasant odors, and this can be a problem in some agricultural regions. Poultry droppings are harmful to plants when fresh but, after a period of composting, are valuable fertilizers.

Manure is also commercially composted and bagged and sold retail as a soil amendment. Sometimes even human sewage sludge is used, as is the case for Dillo Dirt, a product that has been sold by the city of Austin, Texas municipal wastewater department since 1989.

Precautions

Manure generates heat as it decomposes, and it is possible for manure to ignite spontaneously should it be stored in a massive pile.[3] Once such a large pile of manure is burning, it will foul the air over a very large area and require considerable effort to extinguish. Therefore, large feedlots must take care to ensure that piles of fresh manure (faeces) do not get excessively large. There is no serious risk of spontaneous combustion in smaller operations.[citation needed]

There is also a risk of insects carrying feces to food and water supplies, making them unsuitable for human consumption.

Livestock antibiotics and hormones

In 2007, a University of Minnesota study[4] indicated that foods such as corn, lettuce, and potatoes have been found to accumulate antibiotics from soils spread with animal manure that contains these drugs.

Organic foods are much less likely to contain antibiotics as veterinary drugs are not routinely used in organic farming systems. Most organic arable farmers either have their own supply of manure (which would, therefore, not normally contain drug residues) or else rely on green manure crops for the extra fertility (if any nonorganic manure is used by organic farmers, then it usually has to be rotted or composted to degrade any residues of drugs and eliminate any pathogenic bacteria - Standard 4.7.38, Soil Association organic farming standards).

See also

Notes

Further reading

  • Winterhalder, B., R. Larsen, and R. B. Thomas. (1974.). "Dung as an essential resource in a highland Peruvian community". Human Ecology 2 (2): 89–104. doi:10.1007/BF01558115. 

External links


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Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Manure — Ma*nure (m[.a]*n[=u]r ), v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Manured} (m[.a]*n[=u]rd ); p. pr. & vb. n. {Manuring}.] [Contr, from OF. manuvrer, manovrer, to work with the hand, to cultivate by manual labor, F. man[oe]uvrer. See {Manual}, {Ure}, {Opera}, and cf …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • manure — [mə noor′, mənyoor′] vt. manured, manuring [ME manouren, orig., to farm (land) < Anglo Fr maynoberer < OFr manouvrer, to cultivate, lit., to work with the hands: see MANEUVER] to put manure on or into (soil) n. [< MANURE the vt.] animal… …   English World dictionary

  • manure — ► NOUN ▪ animal dung used for fertilizing land. ► VERB ▪ apply manure to. ORIGIN originally in the sense «cultivate (land)»: from Old French manouvrer (see MANOEUVRE(Cf. ↑manoeuvre)) …   English terms dictionary

  • manure — ma*nure (m[.a]*n[=u]r ), n. Any matter which makes land productive; a fertilizing substance. Especially,, dung, the contents of stables and barnyards, decaying animal or vegetable substances, etc. Dryden. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • manure — [n] fertilizer buffalo chips*, compost, cow chips*, cowplop*, droppings, dung, excrement, guano, maul*, meadow muffins*, mulch; concepts 260,399,429 …   New thesaurus

  • manure — manurer, n. manurial, adj. manurially, adv. /meuh noor , nyoor /, n., v., manured, manuring. n. 1. excrement, esp. of animals, or other refuse used as fertilizer. 2. any natural or artificial substance for fertilizing the soil. v.t. 3. to treat… …   Universalium

  • manure — {{11}}manure (n.) dung or compost used as fertilizer, 1540s, see MANURE (Cf. manure) (v.). {{12}}manure (v.) c.1400, to cultivate land, also to hold property, from Anglo Fr. meynoverer, O.Fr. manouvrer to work with the hands, cultivate; carry… …   Etymology dictionary

  • manure — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ animal, chicken, cow, horse, pig ▪ livestock, poultry ▪ farmyard (esp. AmE) …   Collocations dictionary

  • manure — I UK [məˈnjʊə(r)] / US [məˈnʊr] noun [uncountable] solid waste from farm animals, often mixed with other substances and used on crops to help them to grow II UK [məˈnjʊə(r)] / US [məˈnʊr] verb [transitive] Word forms manure : present tense… …   English dictionary

  • manure — n. to spread manure * * * [mə njʊə] to spread manure …   Combinatory dictionary


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