Manure from Stable and Byre. Bulky manures of this type contain nitrogen, phosphates, and potash, but not in the right proportions for all plants. Consequently it is necessary to ‘balance’ these animal manures with appropriate chemicals. Animal manures, by virtue of the humus they produce, improve the texture of the soil, making light soils more retentive and improving the drainage of heavy soils. Cow and horse manure are excellent for general use: the former is most suitable for light and the latter for heavy soil. Pig manure is rich in nitrogen and best for poor, sandy soils. Horse, cow, and pig manures should be stacked in the dry and allowed to rot for some months. When fresh the food they contain is in organic compounds and not available for plants. Bacterial action causes decay and breaks down some parts of the manure into simple, inorganic chemicals. Average dressings are 1 cwt. (a good barrowload) to from 6 to 15 square yards (16 to 40 tons per acre).
Rotted dung may be sprayed thinly as a mulch or top dressing round plants in full growth or bearing. It may also be used in liquid form. Rotted dung may be dug in at any time of the year. If fresh dung must be used, it is best applied to vacant ground in the autumn. Fresh horse manure is required for mushrooms and hotbeds. Analyses vary greatly according to the food on which the animals have been fed, bedding used, its age, storage conditions, etc. If stored well, dung tends to become richer, bulk for bulk, with age. Averages for good rotted samples of mixed farm manure are: nitrogen
1-1% (10-20 lb. per ton), phosphoric acid 1/4-1% (5-10 lb. per ton), potash % (10-20 lb. per ton). Urine is, in general, richer in nitrogen and potash. rape, vetches, or annual lupins may be sown and dug in just as it is about to come into flower. This adds organic matter to the soil, improves its texture, and holds up soluble foods which might otherwise be washed out. Where lupins, vetches, and other legumes are grown the nitrogen content of the soil is increased, as these plants harbour bacteria which fix nitrogen from the air. Mustard may be sown as late as August for autumn digging, rape or annual lupins until July, while vetches are best sown in spring. Dust the ground with Nitro-chalk or sulphate of ammonia at 2 oz. per square yard as the green crop is dug in, to hasten decay and prevent temporary nitrogen shortage.
The Compost Heap. This may be built with any vegetable refuse. Old plants, pea and bean haulms, grass clippings, leaves, straw, hay, green manure crops, and even paper and soft hedge clippings may go into it. If the greater part is soft green refuse, no further steps need be taken to ensure decay. Make the heap about 3 feet high, 3 feet through, and of any convenient length, turn it after a month, so far as possible bringing the inner portions out and turning the outside in. When the heap has decayed to a brown, manure-like mass it can be dug in at the same rate as animal manure. If there is much dry or hard rubbish, such as hay, straw, cabbage stumps, hedge clippings, or paper, a rotting agent such as Nitro-chalk, sulphate of ammonia, or one of the special proprietary products should be used. Dust each 6-inch-thick layer lightly with the chemical (with sulphate of ammonia it is advisable to treat alternate layers with hydrated lime instead) and wet thoroughly any part of the material that seems dry. When turning, add more water to dry parts. Hair. The scrapings from hides treated in tanneries are sometimes available and are a useful source of humus and slowly available nitrogen. May be dug in freely at any time.
Indore Process. This is a controlled method of compost making. As far as possible animal and vegetable refuses are mixed in definite proportions with dung and urine. Excessive acidity is counteracted with calcium carbonate (chalk) or potassium carbonate. Occasionally slaked lime is employed. No other chemicals are used, but wood ashes are mixed in if available. Rotting is usually in pits 3 feet deep, not more than 5 yards wide, and any convenient length. Air vents are made with a crowbar every few feet. The heap or pit is turned twice, the first time after a month and again after a further month. Water is used freely if necessary to prevent the compost becoming dry. Hops. Spent hops contain about 1% nitrogen, l-2% phosphoric acid and a very small quantity of potash. They decay slowly and improve soil texture. They can be dug in freely at any time of the year in the same way as such bulky manures as stable manure and cow dung.
Green Manures. A quick-growing crop such as mustard, HOP MANURE is treated chemically to make it a balanced plant food. There are a number of proprietary brands differing in the manner in which they have been treated and consequently in their rate of application. Usually this is about 4 oz., or a double handful, per square yard, but some makes can be employed more freely. Manufacturers’ instructions should be consulted. Hop manure is best applied in late winter or spring and should be mixed with the surface soil or used as a top dressing.
Liquid Manures. These may be prepared with animal manures from stable, byre, pigsty, etc., or with soot or chemicals. The advantage of applying manures or fertilizers in liquid form is that they are more rapidly available, but plants cannot make use of organic substances even in solution. It is
only after such compounds have been split into inorganic chemicals by bacterial action that they are available as plant food. In consequence, it is useless to prepare liquid manure from undecayed animal droppings. Liquid manure of animal origin may be prepared by diluting urine, or by steeping a bag of rotted manure in a tub of water. In either method the liquor must be diluted to the colour of straw. Applications may be given frequently to ornamental plants, fruits, and vegetables in full growth.
Night Soil. The contents of earth closets are very valuable as manure, and richer, weight for weight, than farmyard or stable manure. They may be dug in at any time in similar manner to animal manures. The contents of cess pits, septic tanks, and chemical closets may also be dug in as manure, but their value will vary according to the amount of water present and the chemicals used to prevent unpleasant odour.
Poultry Droppings. Droppings of all types of poultry may be used as manure. They contain a higher percentage of nitrogen and phosphates than stable and farmyard manure, but less potash, and must be balanced by appropriate chemicals. Weight for weight they are about four times as rich as animal manure. One cwt. of moist droppings will dress from 24 to 40 square yards. If dried and powdered, the quantity would have to be even more reduced, and such manure is best employed like a chemical fertilizer at 8-12 oz. per square yard. Poultry manure should be stored under cover. An average analysis of a moist sample is nitrogen 11%, phosphoric acid 11%, potash 1-1%. If thoroughly dried, this would rise to nitrogen 4%, phosphoric acid 3%, potash 11%. Can also be used to make liquid manure in the same way as other animal manures but should be well diluted.
Sewage Sludge. When good, is a useful substitute for farmyard manure and can be dug in at rates up to 2 cwt. per rod. An analysis should be given, however, as some samples are too poor to be of much value. The analysis should show 2% or more of nitrogen and about 15% of phosphoric acid.
Seaweed. A valuable subsititute for dung. Compared with this, seaweed is rich in potash and almost lacking in phosphates, so is even more in need of balancing with chemicals. Seaweed may either be dug in as gathered at rates of about 1 cwt. to 8 square yards or may be dried and dug in at about 1 cwt. to 24 square yards. The bladder seaweeds and driftweeds with long, broad fronds are the best kinds. Analysis varies according to variety. An average for fresh seaweed is nitrogen I% (7 lb. per ton), phosphoric acid 1/10 % (2 lb. per ton), potash 1 % (20 lb: per ton).
Shoddy. Waste from wool factories which decays slowly in the soil and may be used as a substitute for farmyard manure. Pure wool shoddy is more valuable than samples containing cotton. Shoddy is a bulky nitrogenous manure and improves the texture of the soil. Average rate of application 1-2 tons per acre, approximately 1-1 lb. per square yard. Analyses show from 5 to 15% nitrogen.
Town Refuse. Selected town refuse, particularly that of organic origin, can be converted into useful manure. Quality will depend upon its origin and treatment, and an analysis should be required as in the case of sewage sludge. These Manures are usually slow acting and improve the texture of the soil. Rate of application will depend on analysis but is roughly 1 cwt. (a good barrowload) to from 15 to 45 square yards (5-15 tons per acre). An average analysis is nitrogen 1%, phosphoric acid 1%, potash 1%.
Mulching. This consists of spreading a layer of manure, leaf-mould, peat, grass clippings, or some similar substance over the surface of the soil. Its object is twofold, first to feed plants and second to act as a blanket to the lower soil in which roots are growing. Mulches are most serviceable in the spring and early summer, particularly round newly planted subjects. Mulching material should be loose. If it becomes beaten down by rain or other causes, it should be shaken up again with a fork. A thick mulch of grass clippings maintained on rose beds from May to August has proved a useful preventive of rose black spot.
Top Dressing is allied to mulching, but is employed solely to feed plants. Usually some fairly concentrated and readily soluble fertilizer or manure is employed such as sulphate of ammonia, nitrate of soda, superphosphate of lime, sulphate of potash, dried blood, etc. Care must be taken not to give an excessive quantity. Top dressings are most useful for plants in full growth or bearing. They should be spread evenly over the full presumed root spread and must not be heaped around the stems.
Plant Foods. Plants require many different chemicals, but three only are likely to be deficient under normal conditions in most parts of this country. These are nitrogen, phosphorus (supplied as phosphoric acid), and potash. Occasionally iron, magnesium, manganese, boron, and a few other chemicals must be added to these, but as wrong use of these may cause damage the advice of an expert should usually be obtained if their application is contemplated. In general, nitrogen tends to promote stem and leaf growth, phosphorus root growth, and potash fruitfulness and ripening, but one tends to interact with another so that, for example, lack of potash may prevent the plant making proper use of the nitrogen available in the soil and so on.
A ‘balanced’ manure or fertilizer is one that supplies the essential ingredients in approximately the right proportions for the crop in question. Most animal manures are not balanced in this sense though they may contain all necessary foods. Chemicals usually supply one plant food each, though a few, such as nitrate of potash and phosphate of potash, supply two. In order to obtain a well-balanced chemical fertilizer several chemicals must be mixed in correct proportions to.
By law it is necessary that the nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash content of mixed commercial fertilizers should be quoted. This is done on the basis of percentage of each of these foods in the complete mixture. The analysis is always given in the order as above and is occasionally abbreviated to figures only. Thus a fertilizer described as 7 : 5 : 4 would contain 7% nitrogen, 5% phosphoric acid and 4% potash.