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Animal manure is often a mixture of animal's 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 is 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

Etymology

The word manure came from Middle English manuren meaning "to cultivate land", itself from French main-oeuvre, "hand work", referring to the work of cultivation.

Types

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

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Animal manures

Most animal manure is feces. Common forms of animal manure include FYM (farmyard manure) or farm slurry (liquid manure). 'Farmyard manure' 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 is known as slurry, and is produced by more intensive livestock rearing systems where concrete or slats are used, instead of straw bedding. Manure from different animals may have different qualities and require different application rates, such as manure from farm animals such as horses, cattle, pigs or sheep, chicken and turkey manures, rabbit manure, human sewage and guano from seabirds and bats.[2].

Animal manures may also include other animal products, such as wool shoddy (and other hair), feathers, blood and bone.

The manure from each type of animal has different characteristics. For instance, sheep manure is high in nitrogen and potash, and pig manure is relatively low in both. Horse manure also contains lots of weed seeds, as horses do not digest seeds the way that cows do. Chicken manure, even when well rotted, is very concentrated and should be used sparingly.

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 itself which assist the growth of plants.

Manures with a particularly unpleasant odor (such as human sewage or slurry from intensive pig farming) is 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 which 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.

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. Large feedlots must therefore 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 non-organic 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: 89–104. doi:10.1007/BF01558115. 

External links


Simple English

Simple English Wiktionary has the word meaning for:

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

The term "manure" was used for inorganic fertilizers in the past, but this usage is now very rare.[1]

Contents

Etymology

The word manure came from Middle English "manuren" meaning "to cultivate land," and initially from French "main-oeuvre" = "hand work" alluding to the work which involved manuring land.

Types

There are two classes of manures in soil management: green manures and animal manures. Compost is distinguished from manure in that it is the decomposed remnants of organic materials (which may, nevertheless, include manure).

Most animal manure is fecesexcrement (variously called "droppings" or "crap" etc) of plant-eating mammals (herbivores) and plant material (often straw) which has been used as bedding for animals and thus is heavily contaminated with their feces and urine.

Green manures are crops grown for the express purpose of plowing them under. In so doing, fertility is increased through the nutrients and organic matter that are returned to the soil.

Uses of manure

, c. 1900]] Manure has been used for centuries as a fertilizer for farming, as it is rich in nitrogen and other nutrients which facilitate the growth of plants. Liquid manure from pig/hog operations is usually knifed (injected) directly into the soil to reduce the unpleasant odors. Manure from hogs and cattle is spread on fields using a Manure spreader. Due to the relatively lower level of proteins in grasses, which herbivores eat, cattle manure has a milder smell than the dung of carnivores — for example, elephant dung is practically odorless. However, due to the quantity of manure applied to fields, odor 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.

The dried manure of animals has been used as fuel throughout history. Dried manure (usually known as dung) of cow was, and still is, an important fuel source in countries such as India, while camel dung may be used in treeless regions such as deserts. On the Oregon Trail, pioneering families collected large quantities of "buffalo chips" in lieu of scarce firewood. It has been used for many purposes, in cooking fires and to combat the cold desert nights.

Another use of manure is to make paper, this has been done with dung from elephants where it is a small industry in Africa and Asia, and also horses, llamas, and kangaroos. Other than the llama, these animals are not ruminants and thus tend to pass plant fibres undigested in their dung.

Further reading

  • Anderson, S., and F. Ertug-Yaras. (1998.). [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "Fuel fodder and faeces: an ethnographic and botanical study of dung fuel use in central Anatolia."]. Environmental Archaeology 1: 99-109. 
  • Charles, M. P. (1998.). [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "Fodder from dung: the recognition and interpretation of dung derived plant material from archaeological sites"]. Environmental Archaeology 1: 111-122. 
  • Miller, N. F. (1984.). [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "The use of dung as fuel: an ethnographic example and an archaeological application"]. Paléorient 10: 71-79. 
  • Winterhalder, B., R. Larsen, and R. B. Thomas. (1974.). [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "Dung as an essential resource in a highland Peruvian community"]. Human Ecology 2: 89-104. 

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Notes

  1. Ronald Fisher seems to have used the word manure systematically for what we would call fertilizer today.

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