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by Achim Dobermann
Published: Last Updated on

Manure is organic matter that is used as a fertilizer for agriculture crops. It is typically composed of the excrement of domestic livestock, such as cows, horses, pigs, and chickens, and can also include bedding material, such as straw or sawdust, as well as urine and other bodily fluids.

Historically, manure has been used as a primary means of fertilizing crops in many parts of the world. In ancient China and Egypt, for example, it was collected and used to improve the fertility of croplands. Today, the use of it as a fertilizer is still prevalent in many countries, particularly in developing nations where synthetic fertilizers are less accessible or too expensive.

In terms of global statistics and figures, it’s estimated that there are approximately 1.5 billion head of cattle worldwide, producing about 20 billion tons of manure annually. This amount of manure has the potential to provide a significant amount of plant nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, to croplands, if properly managed.

The importance of manure as a fertilizer is well-documented by scientific evidence. In addition to providing essential plant nutrients, it can also improve soil structure, increase water retention, and promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the soil.

However, if not managed properly, the effects of manure can be detrimental to the environment. Overapplication of manure can lead to nutrient runoff, contaminating surface and groundwater with excess nitrogen and phosphorus. It can also emit greenhouse gases, particularly methane, if left in anaerobic conditions.


Furthermore, the increasing global demand for meat, milk, and eggs is driving the expansion of industrial livestock production, which is causing more manure to be generated than can be sustainably used in nearby croplands. This excess it is often stored in lagoons or holding ponds, which poses a significant risk for leaks and spills.

In terms of types and roles, there are two main categories of manure: solid and liquid. Solid manure, such as chicken or horse manure, is typically used as a top dressing for croplands, while liquid manure, such as swine or dairy manure, is usually injected into the soil or sprayed onto the crops. Both types can be used to improve soil fertility, but the application method will vary depending on the type and the crop being grown.

In terms of proper management, there are several key factors to consider. One important factor is the timing of application, as applying manure at the wrong time can lead to nutrient loss or environmental pollution. Additionally, the nutrient content of it should be taken into account, as different types will have different nutrient ratios. To make the most of the it, a Nutrient Management Plan should be developed, taking into account crop needs, soil characteristics, and regional regulations.

In conclusion, manure has been used as a fertilizer for thousands of years, and it remains an important source of plant nutrients for agricultural crops today. However, the increasing demand for meat, milk, and eggs is driving the expansion of industrial livestock production, which is generating more manure than can be sustainably used. Therefore, it is crucial that it is managed properly, by following a Nutrient Management Plan, to ensure that it is used effectively and without causing environmental harm.

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