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Manure

From Academic Kids

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Cattlemanure.jpg
The temperature of manure rises as it decomposes, giving off steam and a characteristic odor.

Manure is organic matter used as fertilizer in agriculture. There are two classes of manures in soil management: green manures and animal manures. Compost is distinguished from manure in that it is the decomposed remnants of organic materials (which may, nevertheless, include manure).

Manures contribute to the fertility of the soil by adding organic matter and nutrients, such as nitrogen that is trapped by bacteria in the soil. Higher organisms then feed on the fungi and bacteria in a chain of life that comprises the soil food web.

Animal manure refers to the faecesexcrement, variously called "droppings," or "dung" of plant-eating mammals (herbivores) and poultry—or plant material (often straw) which has been used as bedding for animals and thus is heavily contaminated with their faeces and urine.

Green manures are crops grown for the express purpose of plowing them under. In so doing, fertility is increased through the nutrients and organic matter that are returned to the soil. Leguminous crops, such as clover, also "fix" nitrogen through rhizobia bacteria in specialized nodes in the root structure, This further contributes to the fertility of the soil by feeding the fungi in the soil.

Other types of plant matter used as manure or fertiliser include: the contents of the rumens of slaughtered ruminants; spent hops left over from making beer.

Uses of manure

Manure has been used for centuries as a fertilizer for farming, as it is rich in nitrogen and other nutrients which facilitate the growth of plants. Liquid manure from pig/hog operations is usually knifed (injected) directly into the soil to reduce the unpleasant odors. Manure from cattle is spread on fields using a spreader. Due to the relatively lower level of proteins in grasses, which herbivores eat, cattle manure has a milder smell than the dung of carnivores—for example, elephant dung is practically odorless. However, due to the quantity of manure applied to fields, odor can be a problem in some agricultural regions. Poultry droppings are harmful to plants when fresh but after a period of composting are valuable fertilizer.

The dried manure of animals has been used as fuel throughout history. Dried manure of camels and other animals (usually known as dung) was, and in some places still is, an important fuel source in deserts. On the Oregon Trail, pioneering families collected large quantities of "buffalo chips" in lieu of scarce firewood. It has been used for many purposes, in cooking fires and to combat the cold desert nights.

Another use of manure is to make paper, this has been done with dung from elephants where it is a small industry in Africa and Asia, and also horses, llamas, and kangaroos. These animals are not ruminants and thus tend to pass plant fibres undigested in their dung.

Finally, as a play on words on their nickname, manure is a slang for Manchester United—mostly used by other teams' supporters, though.

Precautions

Manure generates heat as it decomposes, and it is not unheard of for manure to spontaneously ignite should it be stored in a massive pile. Once such a large pile of manure is burning, it will foul the air over a very large area and require considerable effort to extinguish. Large feedlots must therefore take care to ensure that piles of fresh manure do not get excessively large. There is no serious risk of spontaneous combustion in smaller operations.

There is also the risk of flies landing on exposed faeces and then flying away and landing on food and also of flies breeding in manure.

Etymology

The word manure came from Middle English "manuren" meaning "to cultivate land," and initially from French "main-oeuvre" = "hand work" alluding to the work which involved manuring land.

da:mg de:Mist fr:Fumier nl:Mest ta:இயற்கை உரம்

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