Adding manure before tilling

andy32844April 10, 2014

I always till the veggi garden in the spring before planting but I'm wondering this year if it would be ok to till in some manure from my horses or chickens? I won't be planting anything probably at least for a month here in michigan. I know composting is ideal but I didn't do that. Also, can I till in some straw that I received with my hay shipment? My soil tends to pack so I was hoping to lighten it up a bit.

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

So this would be relatively fresh manure, not composted, not stockpiled and aged for a minimum of 60-90 days first?

If so then it sure wouldn't be recommended.as the e.coli levels would still be too high for use around food crops.

The minimum recommendation years back was 60 days of composting and no planting within 30 days of application. That recommendation based on ag university testing has been increased to 60-90 days of composting (some even recommend 120 days) and no planting within 30 days several years back.

Of course you always have the option of ignoring the recommendations. Lots of discussions about this over on the Soil & Compost forum here you might want to review and lots of info available on the recommendations on the web.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Using Manure in the Home Garden

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 8:11PM
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barrie2m_

Dave is correct about the regs and for many vegetable crops but you didn't mention what you are growing. I would feel safe growing a tall upright plant that holds edible portion well off the soil such as corn.

And you aren't alone in assuming no harm since I see many Amish neighbors forking fresh manure between rows of growing crops. Nowdays too many people are getting sick from such practices. From some studies the harmful pathogens have been shown to survive longer in debris under the soil than on the surface where sun and dry conditions destroy them. We still have a lot to understand about what are the safer methods. A cull pile or manure piled up somewhere for a few months is often mistakenly thought to be compost but it is not.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2014 at 10:21PM
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andy32844

I would be doing this to my corn area. What is the difference when people use chicken tractors? When they crap in those it goes straight to the soil. I wasn't planning on adding a lot, just lightly sprinkled.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 7:28PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I can honestly say I have never seen anyone that uses a chicken tractor do it right in their garden. And we live way out in the boonies with lots of chickens around. Tyson runs much of the state so rebellion against their methods is common here. :)

The whole point of it is to give the birds free-range for bugs, grass, and grit so they are normally set up in the lawn area and house only a handful of chickens.

But if they are and if they are using multiple chickens in the tractor rather than just a couple then they sure shouldn't be per all the manure-use guidelines. But it is their choice, their risk to take.

Not only is fresh manure not recommended for use around food crops but that is doubly true for fresh chicken manure given its high levels of multiple forms of bacteria. Plus chicken is hotter than most any other kind and can easily burn plants so the need to compost it first is doubly warranted.

But as we said, the choice is yours. Corn wouldn't concern me nearly as much as lettuce, spinach, and other low growing or root crops would.

Dave

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 10:56PM
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cold_weather_is_evil(9)

Some recommendations are harsher. The University of Michigan's extension service suggests a full year's waiting period for cold composted (heaped and largely ignored) horse manure if used for uncooked food crops and half a year for veggies destined to be cooked. I don't use this year's manure on this year's food, but I have the room to pile it up and no pressure to get things done immediately. That's a luxury. I don't know what your soil is but people often find that heavy mulching with scads of straw ameliorates "packing".

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 11:11PM
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tracydr(9b)

I use tons of horse and poultry manure. I use the chicken manure more like a fertilizer in amount but the compost that I make with it and the horse manure I use without worrying about the amount. I made a couple of raised beds from straight, aged horse manure and they've done great.
I do pile my manure up to compost but it always has a few wheelbarrow loads of fresher mixed in. The chicken manure usually gets composted but I've used it fresh on corn and okra in small amounts, about like the amount of fertilizer I would use.

This post was edited by tracydr on Fri, Apr 11, 14 at 23:31

    Bookmark   April 11, 2014 at 11:28PM
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ceth_k(11)

It is simply a matter of washing your hands thoroughly every time after you handle any kinds of manure fresh or aged. The threat of bacteria on the surface of vegetables(which is the only place they can be) is real only to those eating their vegetables raw and do not wash their hands before meals. To completely solve the manure bacteria problems always cook your vegetables before eating them. Only fruits growing very high on the trees should be eaten raw anyway.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 3:15AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

To completely solve the manure bacteria problems always cook your vegetables before eating them. Only fruits growing very high on the trees should be eaten raw anyway.

Seriously??? I have to cook my lettuce and cabbage and spinach before eating it? I can't eat any raw carrots? No spring onions in my salads? I don't think so.

Of course good garden hygiene is a given but a bit of common sense is equally important.

Dave

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 9:11AM
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tracydr(9b)

I use manure on everything, including lettuce and we've never gotten sick. When I was a kid, my parents would put a truckload of aged turkey manure on the garden in the spring. They had fantastic gardens in CO even with the short summers and cool nights.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 11:21AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Yeah you said that above tracy and that is your choice, your risk to take. But it sure isn't recommended.

All the research aside, there has been ample evidence in the news over that past several years that it can lead to serious illness. So the fact that you have never gotten sick may have been just luck given the numbers of others who have.

Before you pooh-pooh the idea or the garden why not first review some of the literature on the safety issues associated with doing it. Just one of many available is linked below.

Having fantastic gardens from using it isn't the issue. Contamination with e. coli, salmonella, listeria, clostridium, parasites, campylobacter, etc. etc. is the issue. Proper composting before application reduces those issues substantially.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Manure Composting as a Pathogen Reduction Strategy

    Bookmark   April 12, 2014 at 12:24PM
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lori_ny(5)

I used fresh horse manure in my garden in 1997. Seventeen years later, I still grow THOUSANDS of Timothy hay plants every year- along side the real vegetable plants.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 4:11PM
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tracydr(9b)

I don't have a weed problem but my horses are fed clean alfalfa, cut just at early bloom. No grain which cuts down on stray oat or barley seeds.
Honestly, with free range chickens and other livestock, the risk of infection is lower. This has been shown on grass-fed beef and chickens. It's factory production that increases risk.
Most large farms get their manures from feedlots, dairies and poultry barns. Not the healthiest group of animals.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2014 at 8:41PM
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andy32844

thanks for all the replys. i have some piles of horse manure and staw with pine shavings mixed in which is at least two years old. i mixed the piles last year with the tractor and it looked like mostly black dirt now. can i put that on the garden? its much lighter than my gardens soil. ill see if i can snap some pictures for everyone to get some opinions.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 12:54PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

i have some piles of horse manure and staw with pine shavings mixed in which is at least two years old

Now that is good stuff - add away. Glad to hear from someone besides me who turns their piles with the tractor. :)

Dave

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 3:21PM
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glib(5.5)

There is a huge difference between CAFO manure and the one coming from well kept animals. Chickens are well known to seek rabbit manure as probiotics. Our ancestors made sure to eat the entrails of killed animals, same reason, and top carnivores do the same. Exposure to manure in humans is correlated with better health outcomes, particularly on autoimmune diseases. This topic is a lot more complex than people make it to be.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 4:19PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

This topic is a lot more complex than people make it to be.

Indeed it is glib. Which is another reason to recognize the validity of the use guidelines for it around food crops.

Dave

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 4:53PM
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andy32844

I finally got some pictures of my pile. I just want to make sure it's composted enough that I can add a large amount to bring up my garden a couple inches. And also want to make raised rows for my corn.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 8:35PM
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andy32844

Pile

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 8:37PM
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andy32844

Pile

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 8:38PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Yes that looks like it is well composted. Wish my current pile looked as good.

Dave

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 10:06PM
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tracydr(9b)

Nice!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 10:36PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I also think the manure dangers generally refer to factory production manures. I am not as afraid of manure as many are, whether it be weeds, burning or pathogens. I got 5 loads of well composted cow manure today from a small farm and next week will get a couple from a horse and goat farm that may be more fresh. That will go for squash and sweet potatoes.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 10:52PM
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tracydr(9b)

Considering that I've had horses since I was about 5 years old and poultry of all sorts, I've probably eaten more manure incidentally than most people.
I have had a few animals through the years with diarrheal illnesses but since they were my own I simply used manure at those times on trees instead of gardens. 45 years, I've had one foal with e.coli. I had a couple of pot belly pigs and a dog with a clostridium perfringens infection ( not botulism), and a few calves,that I bought as a day-old from a huge dairy farm that had salmonella and e.coli. I believe the foal with e.coli caught it from the calves. The calves were pretty sick and the scarey thing is that the infections were resistant to all known antibiotic classes, both the e.coli and the salmonella.
I was very careful handling the calves and manure. With those antibiotic resistances, I have to wonder what our dairy supplies are like. Not to mention feed lot cattle and big-ag poultry.
Remember, this is over 45 years and countless numbers of animals of all sorts! I was raising horses and cattle for a long time, still breed a few horses. I had up to thirty cattle in my herd and we raised dogs for show/field trials. I also ran a kennel for several years.
I think small operations with manure, especially organic and free range, are relatively low risk. Probably far less risk than eating vegetables from the grocery store! Still, pregnant women and those with decreased imunnofunction should be more cautios, obviously.
I do compost my manures but there are usually areas less composted or aged than others.
When we move, I plan to do a three bin system to avoid this issue. I have no way to do this right now.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 11:32PM
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andy32844

So there should be no dangers at all if putting a bunch of this on my garden and sowing directly in it? I want to make my soil so it doesn't compact so much.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 11:43PM
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2ajsmama

How long has it been sitting (even if you didn't compost it)? Does it look like the pix above, does it smell like manure still?

And as Dave said above, corn and things that don't have the edible parts contact the soil (trellised tomatoes, cukes, etc.) are not as much a concern as root vegetables and greens that come into direct contact or are prone to getting splashed, are eaten raw, etc.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 9:16AM
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andy32844

Yea it looks like the pictures I posted. Those are pictures I took last night. I just wanted to be sure before I haul it to the garden.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 1:14PM
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2ajsmama

Sorry! So many posters I didn't notice that the person who posted the pix was the OP. That looks really good, till it in or just spread it thick and plant right in it, the worms will take care of the rest.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 1:30PM
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