How to Sterilize Manure

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Manure offers many benefits to a home garden or a crop-producing field. The addition of manure helps the soil retain moisture, thereby keeping the plants better hydrated and protected during drought conditions. The additional nutrients that manure provides help the crop's growth. However, using fresh manure that has not been sterilized can introduce harmful bacteria and parasites into the food chain. Here are two methods of sterilizing manure to make it safe for crops.

Things You'll Need

  • Shallow baking dish or cookie sheet
  • Aluminum foil
  • Meat thermometer
  • Compost bin
  • Outdoor thermometer
  • Tarp
  • Small rake

Sterilize Manure by Baking

  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

  • Form a ball of moist but not overly saturated manure and place it in the middle of a shallow baking dish or cookie sheet. Push the manure toward the sides of the container until it is spread evenly and does not exceed 4 inches in depth.

  • Cover the baking dish with foil and place a meat thermometer through the foil and into the manure. Place the dish into the preheated oven.

  • Check the temperature of the manure often. When it reaches 180 degrees, bake for an additional 30 minutes, making sure the temperature does not exceed 200 degrees. Remove the sterilized manure and let it cool.

  • Add the sterilized manure to the soil in your home garden or planters.

Sterilize Manure by Composting

  • Place a compost bin in a dry area that gets full sun. This will help the manure reach a higher temperature.

  • Fill the bin ¾ full with manure. Place an outdoor thermometer down into the manure and cover the bin with a tarp.

  • Turn the manure with a small rake every couple of days. This will help provide oxygen to break down the manure into soil-like compost.

  • Keep an eye on the temperature. When the bin has maintain a temperature of 165 degrees or higher during the majority of the day for five days, remove the sterilized compost.

  • Add sterilized compost to your soil, or store compost in bins. Reserved compost can be kept in the bins indefinitely if it is turned consistently.

Tips & Warnings

  • Manure can also be sterilized chemically, but it requires an agricultural specialist to oversee the process to ensure safe application of the chemicals.
  • It is a good idea to have a sample of your compost assessed in a lab to ensure that it is not contaminated.

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References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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