|Organic Farming :: Organic Inputs and Techniques|
Manures are plant and animal wastes that are used as sources of plant nutrients. They release nutrients after their decomposition. The art of collecting and using wastes from animal, human and vegetable sources for improving crop productivity is as old as agriculture. Manures are the organic materials derived from animal, human and plant residues which contain plant nutrients in complex organic forms. Naturally occurring or synthetic chemicals containing plant nutrients are called fertilizers. Manures with low nutrient, content per unit quantity have longer residual effect besides improving soil physical properties compared to fertilizer with high nutrient content. Major sources of manures are:
Manures can also be grouped, into bulky organic manures and concentrated organic manures based on concentration of the nutrients.
Bulky organic manures
Bulky organic manures contain small percentage of nutrients and they are applied in large quantities. Farmyard manure (FYM), compost and green-manure are the most important and widely used bulky organic manures. Use of bulky organic manures has several advantages:
Farmyard manure refers to the decomposed mixture of dung and urine of farm animals along with litter and left over material from roughages or fodder fed to the cattle. On an average well decomposed farmyard manure contains 0.5 per cent N, 0.2 per cent P2O5and .0.5 per cent K2O.The present method of preparing farmyard manure by the farmers is defective. Urine, which is wasted, contains one per cent nitrogen and 1.35 per cent potassium. Nitrogen present in urine is mostly in the form of urea which is subjected to volatilization losses. Even during storage, nutrients are lost due to leaching and volatilization. However, it is practically impossible to avoid losses altogether, but can be reduced by following improved method of preparation of farmyard manure. Trenches of size 6 m to 7.5 m length, 1.5 m to 2.0 m width and 1.0 m deep are dug.
All available litter and refuse is mixed with soil and spread in the shed so as to absorb urine. The next morning, urine soaked refuse along with dung is collected and placed in the trench. A section of the trench from one end should be taken up for filling with daily collection. When the section is filled up to a height of 45 cm to 60 cm above the ground level, the top of the heap is made into a dome and plastered with cow dung earth slurry. The process is continued and when the first trench is completely filled, second trench is prepared.
The manure becomes ready for use in about four to five months after plastering. If urine is not collected in the bedding, it can be collected along with washings of the cattle shed in a cemented pit from which it is later added to the farmyard manure pit. Chemical preservatives can also be used to reduce losses and enrich farmyard manure. The commonly used chemicals are gypsum and superphosphate. Gypsum is spread in the cattle shed which absorbs urine and prevents volatilization loss of urea present in the urine and also adds calcium and sulphur. Superphosphate also acts similarly in reducing losses and also increases phosphorus content.
Partially rotten farmyard manure has to be applied three to four weeks before sowing while well rotten manure can be applied immediately before sowing. Generally 10 to 20 t/ha is applied, but more than 20 t/ha is applied to fodder grasses and vegetables. In such cases farmyard manure should be applied at least 15 days in advance to avoid immobilization of nitrogen. The existing practice of leaving manure in small heaps scattered in the field for a very long period leads toloss of nutrients. These losses can be reduced by spreading the manure and incorporating by ploughing immediately after application.
Vegetable crops like potato, tomato, sweet-potato, carrot, raddish, onion etc., respond well to the farmyard manure. The other responsive crops are sugarcane, rice, napier grass and orchard crops like oranges, banana, mango and plantation crop like coconut.
The entire amount of nutrients present in farmyard manure is not available immediately. About 30 per cent of nitrogen, 60 to 70 per cent of phosphorus and 70 per cent of potassium are available to the first crop.
Sheep and Goat Manure
The droppings of sheep and goats contain higher nutrients than farmyard manure and compost. On an average, the manure contains 3 per cent N, 1 per cent P2O5 and 2 per cent K2O.It is applied to the field in two ways. The sweeping of sheep or goat sheds are placed in pits for decomposition and it is applied later to the field. The nutrients present in the urine are wasted in this method. The second method is sheep penning, wherein sheep and goats are kept overnight in the field and urine and fecal matter added to the soil is incorporated to a shallow depth by working blade harrow or cultivator or cultivator.
The excreta of birds ferment very quickly. If left exposed, 50 percent of its nitrogen is lost within 30 days. Poultry manure contains higher nitrogen and phosphorus compared to other bulky organic manures. The average nutrient content is 3.03 per cent N; 2.63 per cent P2O5 and 1.4 per cent K2O.
Concentrated organic manures
Concentrated organic manures have higher nutrient content than bulky organic manure. The important concentrated organic manures are oilcakes, blood meal, fish manure etc. These are also known as organic nitrogen fertilizer. Before their organic nitrogen is used by the crops, it is converted through bacterial action into readily usable ammoniacal nitrogen and nitrate nitrogen. These organic fertilizers are, therefore, relatively slow acting, but they supply available nitrogen for a longer period.
After oil is extracted from oilseeds, the remaining solid portion is dried as cake which can, be used as manure. The oil cakes are of two types:
Both edible and non-edible oil cakes can be used as manures. However, edible oil cakes are fed to cattle and non-edible oil cakes are used as manures especially for horticultural crops. Nutrients present in oil cakes, after mineralization, are made available to crops 7 to 10 days after application. Oilcakes need to be well powdered before application for even distribution and quicker decomposition.
The average nutrient content of different oil-cakes is presented in the following table.
Average nutrient content of oil cakes
Other Concentrated Organic Manures
Blood meal when dried and powdered can be used as manure. The meat of dead animals is dried and converted into meat meal which is a good source of nitrogen. Average nutrient content of animal based concentrated organic manures is given as follows.
Average nutrient content of animal based concentrated organic manures
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