In its most general form, manure definition can be given as faeces and decomposed bodies of animals used for fertilizing the land. It is an organic matter which adds nutrients to the soil which the bacteria and other fungi in the soil use. These soil additives help plants to grow and the main nutrient responsible for this is nitrogen in them. Other nutrients in manures that benefit soil are phosphate and potassium. They are used widely for cropland, hay production, and pastureland.

Making manure from animal wastes, human and natural resources is an old art which goes as back as the existence of agriculture. With the advent of new ways of cultivation, fertilizers came into existence. But the advantages of using manure are that it proves to be more cost-effective and is all-natural whereas fertilizers might have chemical and other unknown substances in them. 

One downside of manure is that it is smelly and one must wash their hands after using them. Also, vegetables and other eatables that are grown using manures must be washed thoroughly before eating them since manures can have residual effects. If you use manure for farming or gardening then it must be worked thoroughly into the soil for the plants to optimally utilize them, since manures have low nutrient quality per unit of its quantity. In spite of that manures are a better choice for a green world since they do not add pollution and are also a renewable resource.

Apart from increasing fertility of the soil, manures also help in improving the tilth of soil, its water holding capacity, aeration, drainage, retention of moisture, and structure. They are a complete plant food and a good carrier of microbes. 

Once the animal waste decomposes, it releases nutrients. Some of the common examples of manure are rabbit, cow, horse, chicken, sheep, goats, poultry, and bat excreta. 

Sources of Manure - There are many ways of obtaining manures, some of the widely used ones are:

  • Wastes from cattle – urine, dung, and liquid mix or slurry from biogas plants

  • Human waste – human urine, domestic waste, town refuse, night soil, sewage

  • Waste from the slaughterhouse – Bones, meat meal, horn, fish wastes

  • Agro industries byproducts – wastes of food and vegetable processing, oil cakes

  • Droppings of sheep and goat

  • One can also make manure from kitchen waste by the process of composting.

Categorization of Manures – Based on the concentration of nutrients, manures can be grouped as below:

  • Bulky Organic Manure – Farmyard and green manure come under this type of manure. These have a small percentage of nutrients and are applied in huge quantities. Along with nutrients these manures also provide micronutrients and improve soil structure.

Farmyard Manure – Urine, dung, roughages fed to the cattle are decomposed to get this manure.

Green Manure – They have the capacity to go deep into the soil and prevent soil erosion. Tendergreen leaves, shrubs, trees are gathered from the wasteland and supplied to the soil by spreading over it.

  • Droppings of Sheep and goat – These have much better nutrient capacity than bulky manures. Sheep and goats sweeping are kept in the shed till they decompose, or sheep and goats are kept in a shed overnight and their urine and faeces are supplied to the soil. 

  • Poultry manure – These are made from bird excreta and have high amounts of nutrients but if left exposed its nitrogen evaporates.

  • Concentrated organic manures – Also known as organic nitrogen fertilizer, they are made when organic nitrogen is converted to more readily usable ammoniacal nitrogen through bacterial action.

  • Compost – Rotting of plants and animals make this type of manure. It requires optimum temperature, air, and moisture along with some nitrogen for proper composting.

Factors that Affect the Quality of Manure - Different animals have different properties hence; they must have different application rates while using them as manures. Manure quality is also dependent on what the animals feed on, type, and amount of bedding. It is generally believed that liquid manure would have fewer nutrients than solid ones since dilution leads to loss of nutrients. Other factors that affect manure quality are the choice of feeding equipment, using in-barn drying systems that reduce manure’s moisture content, and weather.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Difference Between Manures and Fertilizers?

Manures are natural animal excreta while fertilizers can be natural or have chemical substances added to it. Synthetic chemical blends, mineral, and compost obtained by decaying organic matter are some of the examples of fertilizers.

2. Is Cow Dung the Best Manure? 

Cow dung is packed with NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) hence makes one of the best manures, especially in gardening use.

3. How to Make Manure at Home?

You could use pot composting or vermicomposting to make manure at home. For pot composting, you must segregate your kitchen waste into dry and wet and keep them in 2 different containers in the kitchen. Add dry leaves, cow dung, buttermilk amounting to the same quantity as the waste to start the decomposition process. Leave it open for 30-45 days and keep turning them and adding dry leaves if needed daily. After 2 months your home manure would be ready.

4. What are the Advantages of Using Manure?

Advantages of manures are varied, from enriching the soil, to bettering its moisture content and structure; manures help all kinds of plants and trees to grow better. Manures also support soil erosion and leaching along with the killing of pests. They are also cost-effective.

5. What are the Types of Manure?

Manures are classified based on their nutrient quantity into bulky organic manure like a farmyard and green manure, compost, poultry, sheep and goat droppings, and concentrated organic manures.