Water, sunlight and carbon dioxide are vital for plant growth. What is also important is nutrients. Where do plants get these nutrients from? Soil. Often, the soil has lost its nutrient-producing capacity due to many human activities and soil erosion. Manures and Fertilisers add lost nutrients to soil and promote the healthy growth of plants. Whether it is a small land or large orchards, utilisation of these is vital. Farmers have been dependent on these for a long time. Actually, too dependent. Many farmers are not aware of the adverse effects. One of the reasons soil loses its nutrient capacity is due to over usage of fertilisers. For decades, fertilisers have become an integral part of agriculture, and farmers use them even if not required. Overuse not only leads to reduced soil fertility but also reduced productivity. However, as soils have lost their innate capacity, we should add an external source of nutrients through manures and fertilisers. These are different from each other. Let’s define manure and fertilisers and differentiate them in this article.
Manure vs Fertilizer
Manure is an organic substance produced from the decomposition of animal waste like dung, earthworms, crop residue etc. The waste products are left open for microbial activity to occur. We obtain the organic manure after decomposition. Though manures are low on plant nutrients, these improve soil structure and fertility. Manure improves soil porosity helping in the exchange of gases and liquids. More the soil is porous, the more the ability to intake water. Manures are a low-cost, natural source of fertilizer. The process of applying manures to a garden is known as manuring. Manuring must be done regularly, or the plants will get weaker.
Manures are distinguished into bulky organic manures or concentrated organic manures based on the nutrient concentration they provide.
You may think that fertilizers are synthetic and not organic. It’s not true. Fertilizers both organic and synthetic. In contrast to manure, Fertilisers are rich in nutrients. These provide nutrients in bulk. There are various types of fertilizers for every specific nutrient. E.g. NPK fertilizer for potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorous. Anything in excess is harmful. Fertilizers used in large quantities or more frequently deplete the soil of its natural chemical composition and properties.
E.g. NPK fertilizer, potash, urea, and superphosphate.
Difference between manure and fertilizer in tabular form
|Nature||Organic||Organic and inorganic|
|Humus||Provides humus||Does not provide humus|
|Nutrients||Low in nutrient quantity||High|
|Function||Improves soil characteristics||Provides plant nutrients|
|Types||Animal, green and compost manure||Organic and inorganic fertilizer|
|Availability||Slowly available||Readily available|
|Organic matter||Provides more organic content||Provides less organic content|
|Consequences||No effects||Harmful effects of used in long run|
|Nutrient presence||All types of nutrients are present||All nutrients do not exist|
|Example||Farm yard manure||Urea|
What is manure?
Manure is an organic substance used in agriculture as organic fertilizer. Manure compose of animal feces; additional sources include compost and green manure. Manures improve soil fertility by supplying organic matter and nutrients, such as nitrogen, used by bacteria, fungi, and other soil organisms.
Manure is high in organic matter and humus, which increases soil fertility. These are better in the long term and do not pollute the environment. It is an important renewable resource.
The following are the several sources of manure:
- Biogas plants use cattle dung, urine, and slurry.
- Human habitation wastes such as urine, night soil, sludge, sewage, and wet waste.
- Sheep and goat feces
- Slaughterhouse trash such as bones, flesh, horn and hoof meal and fish meal
- Agricultural industry byproducts
- Crop residue
- Water hyacinth, weeds
Solid manure, especially farmyard manure, is the feces of domestic animals, with or without litter, and perhaps a small quantity of urine. At least 20% dry matter is present in solid manure. Front-end loaders and pitchforks are used to handle solid manure.
Liquid manure is urine from domestic animals that may contain waste and water. Liquid manure may be handled as a liquid with standard irrigation equipment and contains up to 4% dry matter. Conventional centrifugal pumps can handle liquid manure with less than 1% particulates.
The slurry Is liquid manure, a mixture of feces and urine from domestic animals, perhaps with water and only a small quantity of litter.
Bulky organic manures
Bulky organic manures have a low nutritional content and are applied in huge volumes. Farmyard manure (FYM), compost, and green manure are the most essential and extensively utilised bulky organic manures. There are various advantages of using bulky organic manures:
- They provide plant nutrients such as micronutrients.
- They increase soil physical qualities such as structure, and water retention capacity.
- They improve nutritional availability.
- Carbon dioxide produced serves as a CO2 fertilizer.
There are three main types of manures:
The majority of animal waste is feces. FYM is a type of animal manure used as animal bedding. The slurry is a liquid agricultural waste produced by more intensive animal-raising techniques that employ concrete or slats instead of straw bedding. When used as fertilizer, manure from various animals has varying properties and necessitates different application rates. Horses, cattle, pigs, sheep, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, and guano from seabirds and bats, for example, all have distinctive features. Farmyard manure (FYM) and farm slurry are two common types of animal manure.
Phosphorus (4%) and calcium (9%) are found in chicken feces. Sheep feces has a calcium content of 8%. It is blended with straw and hair to increase the concentration of hydrogen.
Horse dung contains less than 3% nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium. It is recommended to use on dry soils because it makes them softer and more aerated, and when combined with earthworm hummus, it creates the ideal fertilizer. Cow dung has little nutrients, yet it is utilised as a plant mulch, particularly in cold parts of the country.
How is FYM prepared?
- Preparation of farmyard manure is not a tough process.
- All you have to do is pile the cow dung and urine below a roof to protect it from being too moist and exposed to direct sunlight.
- If the combination becomes too dry, more dung, urine, and water are added.
- Farmyard manure is ready to use as a fertilizer on fields in around six months.
- Dung and urine-soaked waste from the cow shed are collected daily and thrown into ditches 6-7 metres long, 1.5-2 metres wide and 1 metre deep.
- Each trench is filled to a height of around 0.5 m above ground level.
- The heap’s top must be like a dome and plastered with cow dung soil slurry. It is ready to use after three to four months.
- This process may produce 7 to 8.5 cubic metres of manure per cow each year.
Potato, tomato, sweet potato, carrot, radish, onion, and other vegetable crops respond well to farmyard manure. Sugarcane, rice, Napier grass, and orchard crops such as oranges, bananas, and mangoes, as well as plantation crops such as coconut, are also responsive crops.
The whole amount of nutrients included in farmyard manure is not instantly available. The initial crop has access to around 30% nitrogen, 60% to 70% phosphorus, and 70% potassium.
Compost is used as a plant fertilizer, and to enhance the biological, chemical, and physical characteristics of the soil. It is often made by decomposing plant and food waste, recycling organic materials, and using manure.
Compost improves crops by serving as a soil conditioner, increasing the humus or humic acid content of the soil, and introducing beneficial bacteria that inhibit pathogens and prevent soil-borne illnesses.
Composting necessitates the collection of bother “greens” (green waste) and “browns” (brown waste). Greens are nitrogen-rich materials such as leaves, grass, and food wastes. Browns are carbon-rich woody products such as stalks, paper, and wood chips.
Composting is a crucial part of waste management. Compost, for example, can be utilized for land and stream rehabilitation, wetlands construction, and landfill cover.
Composting requires four critical components:
Carbon is necessary for energy. Carbon produced during the process provides the energy required.
Nitrogen is required for new organisms to develop and reproduce to oxidize the carbon. High-nitrogen compounds are often green and moist.
The breakdown process requires oxygen to oxidize the carbon. Aerobic bacteria require oxygen levels over 5% to conduct the composting processes.
Water is required in sufficient quantities to sustain activity without producing locally anaerobic conditions.
Organisms in compost could break down organic materials if provided with the right combination of water, oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen. Chemical decomposers carry out chemical reactions on organic waste, and physical decomposers reduce the waste into smaller pieces by grinding, tearing, chewing, and digesting, which are two classes of compost organisms.
Green manures are crops planted especially to increase and sustain soil fertility and structure. They are generally reincorporated into the soil immediately or after removal and composting. Green manures, particularly legumes, are commonly grown to improve soil fertility, and fertilizers, on the other hand, might be produced between two vegetable crops, or between vegetable and cereal crops. Sunnhemp, pillipesara, cluster beans, and Sesbania rostrata are the most significant green manure crops.
- Enhances soil structure
- Increases water retention capacity and
- Reduces soil loss due to erosion
Concentrated organic manures:
Concentrated organic manures contain more nutrients than bulky organic manures. Oilcakes, blood meal, fish waste, and other concentrated organic manures are vital. These are called organic nitrogen fertilizers.
After the oil is extracted from the oilseeds, the residual solid portion is dried as cake and utilised as manure. There are two kinds of oil cakes:
Edible oil cakes are fed to animals, such as groundnut cake and coconut cake, and non-edible oil cakes are not suitable for feeding livestock, such as castor cake, neem cake, and mahua cake.
What are fertilisers?
A fertilizer is any material of natural or synthetic origin that is applied to soil or plant tissues to provide plant nutrients.
Fertilizers are of several kinds. They are categorised based on whether they give a single nutrient (for example, K, P, or N), in which case they are “straight fertilizers.” ‘Multinutrient fertilizers a.k.a complex fertilizers’ contain two or more nutrients, such as N and P. Fertilizers are also classed as inorganic vs organic.
Organic fertilizers are natural fertilizers obtained from plants and animals. Organic fertilizers increase the quantity of organic matter in the soil, promote microbial growth, and change the soil’s physical and chemical makeup.
Inorganic fertilizers are chemical fertilizers produced using chemical procedures that include nutrients for crop development.
Nitrogen Fertilizers include nitrogen which requires for crop development. Nitrogen, a fundamental element of chlorophyll, contributes to the overall balance of photosynthesis.
Phosphorus is the primary ingredient in phosphorus fertilizer. The cell’s protoplasm includes phosphorus, which requires for cell development and proliferation
Urea is a source of nitrogen. Straight phosphorous fertilizers are superphosphates. An example of potassium fertilizer is MOP.
Complex fertilizers are of two types: binary fertilizers and NPK fertilizers.
Binary fertilizers: NP, NK AND PK Fertilizers
NPK fertilizers: these consist of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous nutrients.
There are also fertilizers with micronutrients. Iron is provided as a chelate complex.
The most common organic soil additive is peat. It is an immature form of coal that increases soil aeration and water absorption.
Main differences between manure and fertilizer in points
- Manure is an organic substance produced by the decomposition of animal and plant waste. Fertilizer is any organic or inorganic substance added to the soil to improve plant nutrients.
- Manure is prepared out in fields, whereas fertilizer is manufactured in factories.
- Manure is cost-effective in contrast to fertilizers.
- Fertilizer does it provide humus to the soil, whereas manure does.
- Manures are not rich in plant nutrients like fertilizers.
- Even in the long run, manure does not harm the soil. Fertilizers show adverse effects if used in large quantities.
- Manures are classified based on their source, whereas fertilisers are based on their composition.
- Though manure and fertilizer’s main function is the same, manure improves the characteristic of soil, fertilizer doesn’t.
- Fertilisers provide nutrients in large quantities than manures.
- Fertilisers concentrate on a single nutrient, whereas manures improve the overall growth and properties of plants.
We have established the difference between manure and fertilizer. Manure is an organic substance that does not show any consequence even if used in large quantities. But fertilisers are both organic and inorganic which deplete the soil of its natural capacity. Manure and fertilizer are very important for a profitable agricultural economy. If used in the right way and amount, they work wonders on plant growth.