Manure is an organic fertilizer that is commonly used in agriculture because of its ability to improve soil. While manure is made up of many nutrients to help plants grow, the matter contains other elements that farmers and gardeners need to think about before applying. Manure is often taken from animals, such as cattle, pigs, chicken and horses.
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Weed seeds may be found in manure. These seeds may be consumed by animals and remain alive as they pass through the digestive track. The weed seeds in manure may introduce new weeds into the soil. Types of weed seeds that are able to survive through digestion are pigweeds and lambquarters. Weeds in the soil can soak up the nutrients and restrict other plants from growing.
E. coli can be spread through manure, and outbreaks of this bacteria may occur in vegetables. Farmers and gardeners need to be aware of spreading manure over lettuce, potatoes, turnips, tomatoes, carrots and beets. E. coli is a bacteria that lives inside the intestines of animals and may cause contamination in raw vegetables. While harmful strains of the bacteria exist, exposure to E. coli commonly causes diarrhea or abdominal cramps.
Salt is also prevalent in manure and, over time, can build up in the soil. High levels of salt in the soil can create dry conditions and damage the roots of plants. Trees and plants may be subject to diseases when planted in soil with a high concentration of salt as well. This can cause plants and trees to die or not grow to their full potential.
Applying manure is labor intensive, and this is after the transportation cost. To obtain an adequate amount of manure for a farm or garden, you must haul the manure from one location to another. To offset the cost, the Manure Transport Program was created to transport manure from animal producers to agricultural farms. While this may help facilitate the transportation of manure, it costs money. The cost may depend on the amount of manure and transportation distance.