Professional gardeners know the benefits of using cow manure for growing plants. Manure is 100% organic and is free of pathogens. This old age practice can solve your soil-related problems and put new life into your overworked soil.
In this post, you’ll know how you can make manure from cow dung and how to use it in your garden and raised garden beds. Cow dug is smelly and gross but when it transforms into the manure it doesn’t release a bad smell.
What is cow manure?
In simple words, cow manure is a rich source of nitrogen, macro, and micronutrients. It is also a good fertilizer as well as an excellent garden soil amendment.
Most people think cow manure is just the dry cow dung but it is not just cow dung. Grain and grass are the main feed of cattle. We all know these are rich in nitrogen. When the animal digested everything, nutrients are still there in the waste. Animals also eat plant matter this increases the quality of manure.
The best part is where other animal manures contain a high amount of nitrogen. Cow’s manure contains a low amount of nitrogen along with other essential nutrients. In fact, it is a balanced form of plant fertilizer. All essential nutrients are required for proper plant growth and cow manure contains everything for growing plants.
There is no exact NPK value of animal manure. Because it depends on what the cow is fed. 3-2-1 is the normal NPK ratio of animal manure.
Why only cow manure?
There are many animals whose dung can be transformed into quality manure. But one thing you need to keep into your mind is not every animal manure is suitable for growing plants. Especially the carnivorous animals eat other animals. Their dung contains many pathogens and you don’t want to feed your plants a pathogen contained manure.
Chicken and horse manures are other popular choices after cow manure. But the balanced form of NPK makes it best for conditioning the soil.
Farmers raised cattle in all parts of the country. This makes it easy for you to get some animal manure from the local garden store or directly from the animal farm.
You cannot use fresh manure directly from the cow. It needs to be treated first, means composted first. Fresh manure can burn your plants because it has high ammonia content.
Composting is the process that sterilizes the manure and does not pass the harmful things to your final product. If you are buying it in bulk from the commercial farm than ask the supplier about safety.
Benefits of Cow Manure
When it comes to animal manure benefits one thing suddenly comes into our mind that is nutrients. Cow droppings are not only good for raised beds and container plants. They are good for improving the fertility of your garden soil. animal Manure is an organic soil amendment. Manure helps to improve the aeration, make the soil fluffy, and increase the moisture-holding power of the soil. This means less watering and less work for you. It also improves the texture of the soil.
Composted cow manure is free of chemicals and harmful material. Because the composting process kills all types of chemicals and pathogens in cow dung. Even if the cattle are feeding a diet that contains some amount of pesticide or they are on the medications. Composting is like a sterilization process.
Using manure to improve your plant growth is an inexpensive method. You don’t have to buy it from the market if you know a farmer having cows.
The downside of using Animal manure in your garden
There are some negative effects of using manure in your garden. But if the manure is composted properly, it is safe to use in gardens. Fresh manure or half composted manure contains weed seeds and threatening bacteria like E.coli. In fact, cow dung contains many harmful bacteria but the process of composting kills the bacteria and makes it safe for use.
The smell is the issue but the composting eliminates the smell from the cow dung. If you compost it by using tumbler composters than your neighbors will not smell it. The smell spread in the area only when cow dung is composted without enclosed compost bins.
My advice is to buy the ready to use cow manure from the garden store. If you cannot handle the smell of cow dung or you are not sure you can compost it properly.
How to compost the animal manure perfectly?
The good news is composting cattle manure is simple and easy. You can do this at home without any previous experience. Follow the below-written instructions and ready manure at home.
Remember on a thing, for the correct balance of nitrogen and carbon you need to mix straw with the dung. You can also mix some other organic materials of your choice like brown leaves, etc.
Large piles of hot compost
A large pile is the basic method of composting materials. Organic compounds release heat energy while decomposing. This heat acts as sterilization and kills the harmful bacteria in the composting material. To decompose any material, you need to supply good fresh air, water to your composting material.
The size of the pile depends on the amount of manure you need to prepare. Normally we go 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide. This type of pile generates more heat and this heat energy speed up the composting process. If you think you can make 2 or more small piles of manure and this gives you manure faster. You are wrong because the small piles of manure can’t release enough heat.
In the rainy season make your pile under the roof. This protects the pile from unwanted rainwater. In cold weather, the pile takes more time to decompose.
You need to maintain the correct balance of moisture to completely decompose the material. On the first day when you just make a pile of it give it some water to make it moist. Keep the material well moist until it gets converted into healthy nutritional manure. Do not make it wet just keep the moisture level above.
To check the moisture level, take the handful of manure in your hand and squeeze it. If a few drops of water drop fall on the ground this means the moisture is appropriate. More or less water is a sign of low or more water content in the pile.
The problem comes in cold weather when the outside temperature drops below 20 degrees. In such conditions cover the pile of manure with the plastic sheets. This helps to increase the temperature of the pile.
130 Degrees F is the perfect temperature of the composting pile. To measure the temperature, you should use a composting thermometer.
After every 3 days use the garden shovel to turn the pile. This increases the good airflow and allows the pile to heat evenly. This also helps the micro bacteria to spread all over the pile and decompose it properly.
In rare cases, the pile of compost gets overheat and catch fire. If you see smoke is coming out of the compost pile, water it immediately. This will cool it down.
This method is only useful for those having a worm farm. All you need to do is replace their normal food with the cow dung. They eat it and transform it into the best animal manure. If you don’t have experience don’t go for this method.
The first step is to make a pile of manure, give it some water and leave it for days. This way your pile past the heating stage. Keep it moist by water it every other day. This will remove the ammonia and other harmful material.
Now move the aged manure into the worm bin and they will do the rest of it.
Another way of composting cow manure
How to use composted manure?
Composted manure is a perfect soil amendment and the best organic food for small plants. You can use it to grow any plant due to its balanced pH. It has all the organic nutrients that every plant needs to grow healthy and strong.
You can mix it into your garden soil or grow the plant in containers by using only manure.
But I recommend you mix it with the garden soil and mix it with potting mix to grow plants in pots.
The best place to buy cattle manure
If you live near the cattle farms you can get it from there for free. For urban gardeners, they have two options one is buying from the local store or order it online on Amazon.