Chicken manure old enough?

watercarving(7)February 2, 2011

I received some manure from a friend that he said had been piled up for 60 days. This manure came out of a commercial house. When I got it and started shoveling it was steaming in the middle and still had a strong odor.

I spread it on my garden and beds on 01/23/11 and tilled it in on 01/30/11. I've since learned that I should wait 90 days for most crops and 120 for root and lettuce type crops between fresh manure and harvest time.

I won't plant my tomatoes, cucumbers, etc until 05/07/11 so I'm not to worried about those. However. I might start planting radishes and lettuce on 03/01/11 and would harvest my first radishes by 04/01/11.

Is the 60 days piled up and steaming a good enough time for the manure to breakdown? Should I have any concerns about bacterial contamination from this manure in my radishes and lettuce on 04/01? Also, is the 90/120 days a wait time for planting or harvesting?

Thanks!

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jolj(7b/8a)

I would wait until late March & plant these early plant in a planter of compost that has no fresh manure in it. Or get potting soil for the planter/pots. This way you can have you garden & eat it too.
I have seen persons use fresh manures on they garden, with plant in the beds. I would not do this for two reasons. 1) it can burn you young seeds, if the seeds do not rot first. 2) Is the contamination, more so from a commercial house. I believe the composting will break down most if not all contamination, in time. You should compost any raw/green manures in a compost pile.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 8:46PM
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watercarving(7)

Is the manure piled and heating on it's own considered a compost pile? Did anything breakdown during those original 60 days it was piled up?

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 8:51PM
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Lloyd

The 90/120 guidelines come from NOP:

PART 205 NATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM

Section 205.203

(1) Raw animal manure, which must be composted unless it is:

(i) Applied to land used for a crop not intended for human consumption;

(ii) Incorporated into the soil not less than 120 days prior to the harvest of a product whose edible portion has direct contact with the soil surface or soil particles; or

(iii) Incorporated into the soil not less than 90 days prior to the harvest of a product whose edible portion does not have direct contact with the soil surface or soil particles;

These rules are for certified organic producers. Whether a person chooses to follow them for personal use is up to them but that is where they come from.

Lloyd

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 8:56PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

The reasons for the 90 or 120 days between applying fresh animal manures to soil and harvesting crops is because of potential disease pathogens, which are present in any excrement. If the manure is properly composted those guidelines do not apply.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 6:46AM
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watercarving(7)

I understand the reason for the guidelines. What I'm asking is does the 60 days the manure was already sitting count toward the 90/120 days?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 6:48AM
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Lloyd

NOP has their own definition of what composted is as well:

(2) Composted plant and animal materials produced though a process that:

(i) Established an initial C:N ratio of between 25:1 and 40:1; and

(ii) Maintained a temperature of between 131 F and 170 F for 3 days using an in-vessel or static aerated pile system; or

(iii) Maintained a temperature of between 131 F and 170 F for 15 days using a windrow composting system, during which period, the materials must be turned a minimum of five times.

I am not saying a person has to follow any of these guidelines, I'm just posting them. Everyone can make up their own minds as to how they want to handle any material.

Lloyd

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 7:00AM
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watercarving(7)

Lloyd,

Thank you for the info. I understand that I don't have to follow it but that's not really my question. What I'm curious about is does the 60 days it was piled up count toward the 90/120 day wait time?

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 10:41AM
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Lloyd

It seems pretty clear cut to me. If the 60 days of "piled" does not conform to the NOP definition of "composted", the manure would have to be considered "raw animal manure" according to NOP.

Lloyd

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 11:02AM
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watercarving(7)

Lloyd,

Thanks. I'm not an expert on this so I don't know what happened in the pile. It was hot and steaming when I shoveled it out but I didn't take a temp. reading. I guess I'm assuming that if it heated for 60 days then it might have broken down a good bit but since I have not expertise in this the NOP definition was hard for me to translate to my situation.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 11:11AM
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Lloyd

I'm no expert either that's for sure. :-)

If it t'were me, for my personal use, I'd consider the 60 days as part of the decomposition period. If it (the manure) was hot, then it was breaking down and a long period of heat is just as good as a short period with high temps. Having said that, I have to meet guidelines and show documentation to demonstrate that I have because I do sell some compost. For personal use, I wouldn't sweat it.

Rules and regs can be a pain and often leave little latitude for "gray areas". For example, if a windrow heated up to, let's say 171F, but met every other condition, would that meet the guidelines of NOP and would a bureaucrat jump all over someone because they exceeded the parameters? I suspect some would let it go and some would not.

Lloyd

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 11:37AM
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leira(6 MA)

I think the "Does it still look and smell like manure?" test is a valuable one, too.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 12:23PM
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watercarving(7)

At the time it did have a strong smell to it. I guess I'm going to have to plant my early stuff somewhere else and use these as spring moves along.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 12:50PM
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leira(6 MA)

I think that once the weather warms up and you get some rain (if these things haven't happened already), you'll find that your manure starts to get incorporated into the soil quite nicely.

Don't despair, though, and don't feel like you've done a bad thing. I think that chicken manure is one of the more challenging manures to use, as it's very "hot" and can easily damage plants when it's fresh...but once it's broken down in your soil, you're going to get a lot of benefit from it. In the future, just be a bit more careful with the timing.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 2:28PM
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heirloomjunkie(5a)

Does this kind of worry hold true with the bagged, composted chicken manure sold at garden supply stores (chicken poo, etc)?? This stuff is considered safe right out of the bag, right?

Thanks

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 1:32PM
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