What is "well rotted" manure?

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Barry
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What is "well rotted" manure?

Postby Barry » Mon Apr 23, 2018 11:27 pm

I'm curious, when we talk about "well rotted" manure, what exactly does that mean?

For example, horse manure in the field next door to our allotment is stacked in a deep pile in one corner - and there is can stay for some time. The environment is quite damp, so the manure that is underneath is dug out like slabs of peat. Is that well rotted manure?

I ask because if you buy bags of "well rotted" manure from farms, it is dry and somewhat resembles bags of compost. It's clearly "well rotted" but if it was left stacked in a pile and damp, wouldn't you still cut it like peat, too?

Why the interest? Well, many people will tell you that if you don't use "well rotted" manure, nutrients or similar will be leached from the soil, so it is a waste of time digging the stuff in in the first place. However, I also believe it is more complicated than that and that over a longer period of time the manure, if not quite rotted enough, will decay and ultimately release all the goodness you are looking for.

I need organic matter to break up my clay. Once mixed in with the clay, even slightly rotted manure improves the structure. Am I wrong? Am I kidding myself? Do tell!
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Re: What is "well rotted" manure?

Postby Pa Snip » Tue Apr 24, 2018 4:53 am

Well rotted manure in my humble opinion is when you cant tell where it came from.

The snag with "fresh" manure in plastic bags is that it gets hot and sweats, hence the wet solid lumps

Not only organic matter is useful but sharp sand in good quantity also helps break up clay.
My plot has had 7 Cu Mt bags of sharp sand since 2012 and at least 30 tonnes of compost

Plot drains well and is remarkably workable even after our recent overnight storm
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Re: What is "well rotted" manure?

Postby robo » Tue Apr 24, 2018 9:34 am

I find using manure imports all types of weeds , I now only use muck from my own chickens after it has stood for a while
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Re: What is "well rotted" manure?

Postby Geoff » Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:08 am

Can't see the straw?
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Re: What is "well rotted" manure?

Postby Pa Snip » Tue Apr 24, 2018 4:12 pm

robo wrote:I find using manure imports all types of weeds , I now only use muck from my own chickens after it has stood for a while



How long do your chickens have to stand for ?? don't the eggs break on the drop ??
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Re: What is "well rotted" manure?

Postby robo » Tue Apr 24, 2018 4:30 pm

My chickens stand until I give the command to lay then they squat , then I command them to ##it I mean sit
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Re: What is "well rotted" manure?

Postby Gerry » Wed Apr 25, 2018 5:45 pm

My farmer friend delivers manure to me when he cleans out the calf house. I cover and leave for about a year after which time it does cut like peat but breaks up nicely and as Geoff says, there is little evidence of straw by this time.

As Pa Snip says, sand breaks up the soil. For many years, sand (from the beach) was used by local farmers and my garden has benefited greatly from this.
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Re: What is "well rotted" manure?

Postby Monika » Wed Apr 25, 2018 7:04 pm

We do the same as you, Gerry. We get a huge pile of winter cattle bedding delivered over the fence from the next door field to help ourselves on the allotment. We pile up as much as we want and cover it with black plastic until the following winter when it is spread.
And usually (but not always) it rots down well over the summer - that's what I would call "well rotted manure", Barry. Though one would still be able to identify the straw in it, it no longer smells of cow p**s.
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Barry
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Re: What is "well rotted" manure?

Postby Barry » Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:03 pm

The difficulty with the straw trick is that ours is open field manure. In other words, it comes out of the horses' bums and is collected up and then stacked in the corner of the field, which is where we retrieve it.

The top of the heap looks like horse pooh. The lover levels is preudo-peat.

But all the well rotted manure I've seen on sale outside farm gates resembles the type of compost I might buy from a garden centre: you can hold it in your hand and it will "flow".

Is the slab-like stuff I have the same, just wet?

Normally, I store the plop in plastic bags over the winter. Why? Tons of weeds grow out the top! Before using the manure, I tip it out into a barrow and remove the weeds. Seeds seem to pass right through horses.

I do use sharp sand, but once saw some statistics - which I can't remember - that showed the sheer amount of sand you need to signficantly improve clay soil would make the vegetables you grow expensive in the extreme!!!
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Re: What is "well rotted" manure?

Postby Cider Boys » Sun Apr 29, 2018 9:04 am

As long as the manure has been left to rot it will be the same as what you might buy from a garden centre but as you say, just wet. I was always taught to water (and turn) compost heaps but stack and keep manure dry until it had rotted.

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Colin Miles
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Re: What is "well rotted" manure?

Postby Colin Miles » Sun May 13, 2018 9:40 am

I have a kept a grass heap for years - it takes me around 3 hours or more to mow my lawn/meadow so quite a lot of grass cuttings - and this year I decided it was time to use some of it. So I have stacks of what could be best as sorta peat like on what will be my runner bean, courgette and squash patches which I intend to dig in. Not sure how well it will work. I also have what was a Sainsbury's tub of ash mixed in with some charcoal from a wood bonfire which I am wondering where best to use. Would any of these benefit or would there be any conflict, or perhaps peas or lettuce or swedes?
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Geoff
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Re: What is "well rotted" manure?

Postby Geoff » Sun May 13, 2018 10:10 am

Old grass heaps are great. I use mine when I have lots of other stuff to compost but no fresh cuttings to mix in. I also mulch shrubs and the comfrey bed with it. Wood ash can be mixed in to the compost heap or used on soft fruit or onions.
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Colin Miles
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Re: What is "well rotted" manure?

Postby Colin Miles » Sun May 13, 2018 11:39 am

Thanks Geoff
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