Bulk manure

pinecarr
By pinecarr on Sat, Mar 19, 2016 - 11:37am

I was looking on-line for local farm or gardening-center sources of bulk manure, to try to avoid the expense of buying several small bags.  While it would be ideal to have my own chickens or livestock producing manure, I haven't wanted to take that on while working full-time.

In the process of searching for these bulk manure sources, I came across this article, a cautionary tale about researching any bulk manure you are considering using before adding them to your gardens.  Apparently, the author (and some people who commented on the article) found out that the animals that produced the manure had eaten hay sprayed with a herbicide, which (they believe) then went on to contaminate her organic garden and damage the vegetables she was growing there.  The article is "Looking To Buy Manure? Read About This Manure Problem First".  Here's the link: http://www.smilinggardener.com/organic-soil-management/buy-manure

"With a little online searching, I found an exact photo match for my [damaged] tomatoes on sites about "aminopyralid," a component of several herbicides manufactured by DowAgro, a division of Dow Chemical.

For those of you as unfamiliar with herbicides as I am, aminopyralid is a selective, hormone-based, broad-leaf weedkiller, a component of herbicides for use on hay, grain corn and grass crops. The farmer sprays the herbicide on the hay to suppress broadleaf weeds.

The cows or horses eat the hay and their manure contains the herbicide which affects any non-grass crops which it is spread on. This is where my manure problem comes in. Aminopyralid is what is called "persistent" in chemical agriculture circles. It does not break down in animal digestion and travels intact in ground and surface water. Breakdown in manure or compost heaps takes 5 years or more."

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5 Comments

Bytesmiths's picture
Bytesmiths
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 29 2008
Posts: 220
Know Thy Manure Producer

ARGH! What a horrible thing!

Just as you should "know your farmer" when buying food, you should know your manure producer.

Find a farm in your area and ask to buy their manure.

mlindsey's picture
mlindsey
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 10 2016
Posts: 9
Boarding stables

I would definitely be careful on your manure sources. I had a large patch of ground contaminated by manure that contained Bermuda grass. This was clumps that were scraped up by the tractor when the farmer piled up his horse manure.

Last fall I saw an add on Craigslist in our area for a university's Ag department offering cow manure. I contacted them and asked what the animals were fed. As soon as I heard "growth management" I knew the manure would also contain growth hormones. I said no thanks.

I have found good manure from boarding stables, ones where they clean the stalls and pile it up to sell or give away. That source will likely have wood shavings in with it. The safest thing to do on any manure source is to let it sit and compost for at least 6 months if not a full year. Add other organic matter to the pile as it comes available. I add the hay and manure that we get cleaning out our chicken coop and under the rabbit cages and add this to the compost pile.

If you want to use this as fertilizer for the garden, it is OK to just let all this sit and break down. If you want to build microbial life in your compost, you will need to take very specific steps. Its a lot of work but worth it.

Good luck.

Bytesmiths's picture
Bytesmiths
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 29 2008
Posts: 220
Try to have animals, if you possibly can!
mlindsey wrote:

I add the hay and manure that we get cleaning out our chicken coop and under the rabbit cages and add this to the compost pile.

I realize the original poster did not have their own manure, but I firmly believe that self-sufficiently strongly depends on domestic animals. If you can, start with a few chickens. Most municipalities will let you have them, even on a small city lot.

Although we buy some amendments for greenhouse starts that we sell (wouldn't be right to sell our weeds!), we are largely sufficient in growing many thousands of pounds of food with a dozen goats. We "harvested" over eight cubic metres (yards) of "brown gold" last year!

If you are very strongly vegetarian or vegan, it's tough. It is an incredible amount of work to do it all via cover-cropping, without the use of Goal-Oriented Autonomous Trophic Scavengers' Helios-Infused Tablets (G.O.A.T.S.H.I.T.). They spend their time wandering about, gathering stored sunlight for us and delivering it in an easily distributed form — and package a portion of it for us in a yummy protein-rich liquid!

We run a "largely" vegetarian household, meaning we do not raise animals exclusively for meat. But when we breed our dairy goats and egg chickens, there's the "excess males" problem. We put roosters in jars and see it as a form of holy communion to eat them a few times a year.

Tall's picture
Tall
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 18 2010
Posts: 564
mlindsey wrote: ...I have
mlindsey wrote:

...I have found good manure from boarding stables, ones where they clean the stalls and pile it up to sell or give away. That source will likely have wood shavings in with it. The safest thing to do on any manure source is to let it sit and compost for at least 6 months if not a full year. Add other organic matter to the pile as it comes available. I add the hay and manure that we get cleaning out our chicken coop and under the rabbit cages and add this to the compost pile.

I strongly agree with Pinecarr's original post above. Unfortunately, especially horse manure (in some areas) can be toxic to your veggies even after composting, as the offending herbicides are active for over 5 years. Horses are exposed to the herbicide from contaminated hay or pasture. Some of the offending herbicides are marketed directly to horse owners (e.g. Grazon, Tordon), as they are very effective against woody weeds such as 'horse nettles' (Solanum carolinense) which infest pastures and are hard to control.

One solution is to get manure from horses fed 100% alfalfa hay, no pasture. The herbicide is deadly to legumes such as alfalfa, so you know that alfalfa hay is clean. Or buy manure from someone who knows about the issue and uses their manure in their own garden.

Note on page 6 of this guide, they describe how to perform the bean bioassay. This trick can save you heartache. Briefly, get a sample of your composted manure of interest, plant beans in some pots with the compost, some with just potting mix. If the compost is toxic, the maturing beans will appear deformed (wait until 2nd 'true' leaf to see effect).  It takes some time and thought, but is a cheap insurance if thinking about getting a load of manure of unknown quality.

http://msdssearch.dow.com/PublishedLiteratureDAS/dh_093b/0901b8038093b718.pdf?filepath=pdfs/noreg/010-58183.pdf&fromPage=GetDoc

Be careful out there!

 

robshepler's picture
robshepler
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 16 2010
Posts: 108
Animals in ag

We have both chickens and cattle to compost from. We tend to let the cow pies fall during the spring summer and fall. When we feed the cows in the winter is when we gather manure for compost, that way the nutrients we are composting are coming from someone else farm. Our hay farmer is a friend and uses no herbicide, and grows pretty close to organic methods.

It would be great to be recycling our nutrients 100%, fact is when we sell veggies we are exporting our nutrients and need to make them up somewhere else. Since we are talking manure, when the poop hits the fan we will need to cut back on our production or find a closer source of feed or grow our own.

As cool as organic agriculture is we as humans are pretty consumptive. We don't live light on the land, what we use has to come from somewhere, and it takes energy to replace it.

May you struggle to can all you grow.

Rob

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