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COMPOSTED
MANURE TEA

BY BRUCE ZIMMERMAN

Composted Manure Tea has long been a favourite fertilizer of farmers and gardeners alike.  The recipe for manure tea changes with each person you talk too. Some people like chicken manure some like cattle while others even recommend exotic manures from the local zoo.  This begs the question, which is better manure the one that comes from elephants or cows?  Well, the answer is whichever one you’ve got particularly if it was cheap.

Organic fertilizers of any kind are beneficial to any soil.  They build up the organic content of the soil, which improves its drainage and structure.  By improving a soils structure you increase its ability to hold and release nutrients.  The natural break down of the organic material by beneficial soil organisms can provide almost all the nutrients that a plant requires.

All manures used in making Composted Manure Tea should be well composted this is not just the amount of time that it has been composting but also the temperatures that the manure reached during composting.

It is the recommendation of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association that animal manures be composted so that your manure pile reaches a temperature of 150° F. and the pile must be turned often enough to heat the entire pile.  The reason for this is to kill off any E. coli 0157:H7 that maybe present in the manures.  They also recommend that manures and manure teas not be applied to vegetables and fruit within 60 days of harvest and 120 days to harvest on root crops.  

As of October 21, 2002 the USDA  "Recommendation: Compost Manure Teas if used in contact with crops less than 120 days before harvest must be made from high quality compost described above and not prepared with addition of supplemental nutrients such as sugars, molasses or other readily available (soluble) carbon sources."  This addition of nutrients is common practice by Organic Farmers to encourage beneficial  bacteria.

The other problem that farmers and gardeners have experienced was the blockage of irrigation systems by manure teas.  Yes, you must strain out the solids but some always get through and block up the emitters on the standard irrigation systems.  This is not so with the Irrigro® drip irrigation system using Dupont’s® Tyvek® irrigation lines.  Irrigro® tubing is non-clogging, does not require a filter, and is the first choice of organic farmers who use "composted manure tea".  It is the only drip irrigation system known to tolerate manure tea without clogging. 

Recipes for Manure Tea

Fill an old pillowcase or sack with your choice of manure.  Soak the sack in a large pail of water for one day up to three weeks in a well-ventilated area.

RECIPE#1

-3-4 gallons of composted manure
-Soak in a garbage pail of water 
-Stir regularly to aerate the mixture
-Remove the bag of composted manure
-Add to the solution1/2 cup of Ivory dish soap
-Add 4 cups of Epson Salts
-Apply 1-2 pt. to small shrubs or 1-2 qt. to large ones.  To vegetables apply 1pt. to small plants or 2pt.to medium plants.

RECIPE#2

 

-Add 10-15 gallons of composted manure in a sack to 55 gallons of water.

-Let it seep for 2-3 weeks in a well-ventilated area.
-Stir regularly to aerate the mixture

-Apply no more than ½ gallon of solution to your shrubs and roses

Always apply Composted Manure Tea with caution it can be strong and is always quick acting.

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