Magnificent Manure!

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Magnificent Manure!

The benefits of animal manure on the land and the grass cannot be underestimated. It is a core part of organic and sustainable agriculture and it feeds the grass with nitrogen and other nutrients/ micronutrients, adds critical organic matter,  encourages soil biodiversity and healthy microorganisms. When animals graze on pasture and deposit their manure, they are providing the necessary nutrients to nourish the land and promote healthy grass growth.

To maximize the benefits of the manure we rotationally graze all of our animals on our organic pasture lands and apply our composted manure from the cattle’s winter bedding area and our chickens winter barns to our hay fields. Animals manure is natures perfect fertilizer and historically it was the rotational grazing of the large herds of bison laying down a layer of manure that maintained the prairie grasses. We mimic this application of manure by moving our cattle to new pasture every day and having our pigs and poultry move every day to new pasture in their floorless shelters .

The benefit is clearly visible in our pasture.  These photos (taken this spring) are from where the turkeys grazed last year in their movable shelters. These shelters were moved every day onto fresh grass allowing a perfect skiff of turkey manure to be applied to the pasture.  You can see a color difference between where the turkeys were and the gap between the shelters where no manure was left. This results in our fields often having stripes first thing in the spring. The other photos show the height and vigor that the manure has given the grass where the turkeys were, in comparison to between the shelters where they left no manure (our nephew Colby’s boot is used to show the difference).

Manure is mostly thought about as a fertilizer however it is not just a source of nutrients for plants; it also plays a crucial role in improving the overall health of the soil. In addition to providing essential nutrients, manure increases the organic matter content of the soil, leading to a range of benefits that can enhance plant growth and soil quality.

Soil with higher organic matter levels acts as a nutrient reservoir, making essential nutrients more readily available to plants for a longer amount of time. This not only promotes healthy plant growth but also helps to improve soil structure. Organic matter-rich soil is less prone to compaction, erosion, and surface crusting, making it more resilient to environmental changes and stressors.

Increased organic matter levels enhance water infiltration and holding capacity, reducing run-off and maximizing the water available for plants. This can help to moderate soil temperature and pH levels, creating optimal conditions for plant growth. Additionally organic matter promotes biodiversity and the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the soil, which play a key roles in healthy soil structure formation. Better soil structure also allows for improved root growth and biological activity in the soil. Also carbon sequestration resulting from increased soil organic matter helps mitigate climate change by storing carbon in the soil.

Pasture truly does love manure, and the symbiotic relationship between the two is essential for sustainable agriculture. This relationship creates healthy soil, that grows healthy grass, that feeds healthy animals.

 

Your Farmers

Ron and Sheila Hamilton

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