Agriculture is the practice of cultivating soil, growing crops, and raising livestock. It entails preparing plant and animal products for human consumption and distributing them to markets. Agriculture produces the majority of the world's food and textiles.
Manure and fertilisers play a vital role in agriculture. Manures and fertilisers are used to enhance the soil in order to achieve economically feasible profits through the crops. In this article, we are going to study the difference between manure and fertiliser and also the types of manure and their uses.
Manures are natural alternatives to nutrients for the soil as well as the crop. The natural sources that can be added as manure include dead wastes of plants and animals, excreta, and other supplements. When these sources are decomposed, they give organic products called manure.
Organic manures are natural substances or sources that farmers utilise to improve long-term crop output. Farmyard manure, green manures, compost made from crop residues and other farm wastes, and biological wastes such as animal bones and slaughterhouse refuse are all examples of organic manures. These increase the fertility of the soil and are not harmful to the organisms living in it. These can also be easily available and cost-effective for farmers.
There are various sources of manure and it can be obtained in the field since it is a natural substance. Some of these sources are mentioned below:
Cattle urine and dung, slurry from the biogas plants.
Human waste, including human urine, sludge, organic domestic waste, sewage, etc.
Droppings of goats and sheep.
Slaughterhouse waste, such as bones, meat, horns and hoof meal, and fish waste.
By-products from agricultural industries that are organic in nature.
Waste from crops can be collected from the field itself.
Weeds and other field-related waste.
With a wide variety of manure, there are some categories that divide manures into different types with different features. They can be majorly grouped as farmyard manure, green manure, and compost manure. These are briefly described below as follows:
This type of manure has its roots deep in the soil and helps in the prevention of soil erosion by keeping it fertile. Green manuring also helps in the suppression of weeds and increases the percentage of organic matter, giving the crop scope to grow to its full potential. One of the green manure examples includes Crotalaria, which is grown using this technique.
Farmyard manure increases the capacity of soil to hold more water and improves the soil structure so that it can carry more nutrients. It also boosts the soil's microbial activity, which improves mineral delivery and plant nutrition in the crop.
Compost manure improves the soil structure, and as a result, increases its water and nutrient holding capacity. Thus, it increases the nutritional value of the soil and the crop, improving the overall yield of crop production.
They are based on chemical alternatives to enhance the nutrient value of the soil. This includes salts or organic compounds like urea, sodium nitrate, ammonium sulphate, potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, etc. These prove to be a good source of plant nutrients and increase the yield of the soil. The importance of fertilisers in food production is frequently overlooked. Fertilisers are plant food. Fertilisers replenish the nutrients lost by crops in the soil. Crop yields and agricultural productivity would be significantly reduced if fertilisers were not used.
Fertilisers are produced in factories and hold the nutritional value that is necessary for the specific crop. These include synthetic chemical blends, minerals such as urea, sodium nitrate, ammonium sulphate, potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, etc. These increase the plant’s nutrition and, hence, increase the crop production and yield, ultimately profiting the farmer.
Compost fertilisers are made as a mixture of lots of ingredients and substances that become the source of nutrition for the soil and the crop. This mixture is used to fertilise the soil and is commonly prepared by decomposing plant and food waste and recycling organic materials. These do not affect the organisms present in the soil since it is made up of natural substances, it only enhances the soil through its plant nutrients and beneficial organisms, such as worms and fungal mycelium.
Manures and fertilisers are two different substances that help improve crop production through the enhancement of soil nutrients. Both of them have their own benefits and disadvantages. Some of the differences between manure and fertilisers are given below:
Organic farmers rely heavily on composted manure as a primary source of soil fertility. It provides a natural method of cycling plant nutrients. As a result, animal manure is an essential component of organic soil fertility programmes. The total nutrient content of manure is not available in the first year, and depending on management practices, some nutrients may be lost. Fertilisers are chemical substances that are applied to crops in order to increase their productivity. Farmers use these on a daily basis to increase crop yield. The fertilisers contain the nutrients that plants require, such as nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Here, in this article, we have studied the importance and uses of both manure and fertilisers.
1. What is vermicomposting?
Vermicomposting is the process of using worms to convert organic materials (usually wastes) into vermin-compost, a humus-like material. Vermicompost has numerous advantages, the most important of which are as follows:
It acts as a biofertilizer, restores soil nutrients, stabilised soil, and improves soil fertility over time;
It addresses social issues and recycles waste; and
It has been shown to be a profitable enterprise as a circular economy.
There are two types of vermicomposting: Bin vermicomposting and vermicompost pile vermicomposting.
2. Which of the two is more economically sustainable for farmers?
Manure is considered more economical and can be prepared easily by the decomposition of plants and animals. They are readily available to the farmers in the field itself and do not need to be bought in the market. Fertilisers, on the other hand, are produced in factories and are sold in the market at high rates. Manures are often preferred by farmers due to their durability and benefits. Fertilisers can be used from time to time whenever the farmer can easily afford them.
3. What are the side effects of fertilisers on soil?
Overuse or repeated use of fertilisers can result in an ultimate decrease in soil fertility along with acidification of the soil. It will gradually decrease the amount of organic matter, humus, and beneficial organisms in the soil, inhibiting plant development, altering soil pH, increasing pests, and even releasing greenhouse gases. Fertilisers are not meant for continuous or constant use as they can result in the overall infertility of the soil in the long term. This kind of soil will not be safe to use in the future for any kind of crop production.