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Difference Between Manure and Fertilisers

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An Introduction to Manures and Fertilisers

IVSAT 2024

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.


Manure

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.


What is Organic 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.


Example of Manure

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.


Types of Manure

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:

  • Green Manure

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

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

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.


Fertilisers

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 Examples

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.


What are Compost Fertilisers?

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.


Difference between Manure and Fertiliser

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:

Fertiliser

Manure

They are made out of either artificial or natural substances.

They are made out of natural substances.

These are prepared in factories and chemicals added to the soil.

These are obtained from dead and decaying plants and animals and can be readily available in the fields.

These chemicals do not provide humus to the soil.

Natural substances provide humus to the soil.

Since these chemicals are produced in factories, the right amount of nutrients can be provided through them and hence they are rich in plant nutrients.

Manures are less rich in plant nutrients since these are produced on the field and can vary in the number of nutrients they carry.

These are quickly absorbed by plants.

These are absorbed slowly.

These are costly.

They are cheaper and cost-effective

Fertilisers are chemicals and can cause harm to the organisms present in the soil. They may also be hazardous to the people consuming the crop.

Being a natural substance, it causes no harm to other organisms.


Conclusion

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.

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FAQs on Difference Between 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: 

  1. It acts as a biofertilizer, restores soil nutrients, stabilised soil, and improves soil fertility over time; 

  2. It addresses social issues and recycles waste; and 

  3. 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.