When is Cow Manure 'safe' to plant into?

fish3737(z 8 OR)February 21, 2009

I spread cow manure on several garden beds in the fall - September. I didn't have time to cover them with anything or till - so there they sat.

Inspecting my garden this week - because we actually have some sun I thought that the manure would look a little less "manureish". But it still looks a lot like poop.

Is this "safe" to plant into this spring? Should I till it and wait another year? I have four quadrants to my garden (about 1/2 acre total) and only work 1/4 of the total a year.

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justaguy2(5)

Define safe :)

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 1:19AM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Every Ag School and Organic Gardeing magazine state that animal manures should be aged 12 months before being used in the vegetable garden because of the potential disease pathogens that are in that manure. Manures that are properly composted can be spread out before that since the composting process (temperatures maintained over 135 for a couple of days) will kill off 99 percent of those pathogens.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 7:21AM
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elkwc(6b)

Likewise I ask what you mean by safe. I've used a mix for fresh and aged. Mixed just like it comes from my pens for close to 40 years or more. And never had any trouble. I think it is best to put it on in the fall and if you want resulst for this year till it in. If not do as I do on my asparagus beds every year and farmers do the same on their alfalfa fields. Spread a layer out. I never put more than an inch where I do it every year. I think add some cottonseed meal and alfalfa pellets and cover with mulch and water. And let the worms work. The feedlots here used to have huge piles of aged manure. Now due to fertilizer costs the yards are bare. They haul it out and apply it as fast as the pens are cleaned this time of year. Again a mix of old an new. If fresh don't apply as much. I know there is mixed advice out there but I say go for it. From my experience of several years and the advice I've received from people directly involved with farming and that likewise have experience I see no danger. JMO

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 9:28AM
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organicguy(7)

elkwc ,
That was also my experience over 40 years gardenin organically, and farming for 10 of those years. On the vegetable beds, I usually till in fresh manure in Fall or very early Spring, giving the worms and microorganisms at least 2-3 months to do their thing before harvesting anything. I have never had a problem or knew anyone that did.

Ron
"The Garden Guy"
http://www.TheGardenGuy.org

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 4:22PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

"I have never had a problem or knew anyone that did." I peronally do not know anyone that has gotten a disease from animal manures, but the news is full of stories of people getting E-Coli, Salmonella, etc. from eating foods contaminated with these disease pathogens, enough to make me change my mind about using raw, fresh, manure in my gardens.
Simply because you have not yet gotten the flu is not a good reason to not get the vaccine each year. Also many people do get ill from these disease pathogens but that illness is too mild to go to a doctor about so you really have no idea why you suddenly had this bout of diharrea and vomiting.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 6:54AM
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bloosquall(Wa 6)

Fish,

I have a friend that's a fellow garlic farmer, He plows a row and puts 3-9 month old cow poo in the bottom of the trench. Then rolls the soil back and plants the cloves. The poo is at least 8" deep, when the roots hit that layer they get a great boost. Just my opinion here...grind it in and plant your garden.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 1:48PM
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organicguy(7)

kimmsr,
There is a big difference between putting fresh manure on a garden ready to work, and tilling the manure in a few months before planting and harvesting. In a few weeks it is all broken down and mixing into the soil layers. Try to find a garden that doesn't have some fresh bird, rabbit, squirrel or other local manure sitting on it. What about worm poo?
Organic farms have always done it and continue to do it. You can always find an alarmist that can have a problem with everything. If you want to buy into the panic, go for it. Do what you're comfortable with.

Ron
"The Garden Guy"
http://www.TheGardenGuy.org
"New Article & Journal Entry"

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 5:51PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

Ron, The National Organic Standards people are telling organic farmers that they cannot put animal manures on fields they will be growing food crops for 12 months before those food crops ar to be harvested. Since they are doing that there probably are good reasons and there are and those reason are called disease pathogens. I talk with certified organic farmers around here and they tell me they would loose certification if they applied animal manures to those field sooner than 12 months. There is no fear mongering involved here, just the desire to give people good information.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 7:17PM
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elkwc(6b)

It seems there is a difference in the information being given by sources. And let me ask dry manure just sitting there and not composting how would that kill anything without the heat? I ask because of our dry climate most of the manure that we remove from the pens is dry. If you pile it most of the time it just sits there till you apply it and work it in. I might see where there is enough moisture for it to compost. That isn't the case here. My sources have said they see no problem with it being a mixture of old and new. I guess when my extension service or someone in this area says it needs to be aged more then I will give it more consideration. I recommend to do what ever you feel comfortable with. At the present for me that is applying a mixture at least 2-3 months before planting if possible. Jay

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 11:22PM
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organicguy(7)

According to the Washington State University Cooperative Extension, wait 90 to 120 days from application of fresh manure until harvest -
http://gardening.wsu.edu/stewardship/compost/manure/manure2.htm

ATTRA advises 60 days - attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/PDF/manures.pdf

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 4:06PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

I realize that you think you understood what you thought I said but I don't believe you understand that what I said wasn't what I meant.
Today, not in 1999 or even 2003, Ag schools are telling us we should not be applying manure to our gardens, or fields, until that manure has been aged for 12 months. The National Organic Standards people are today telling organic farmers that all animal manures should be aged for 12 months before being applied to those gardens or fields. This has nothing to do with when you apply manure, just the age of that manure. Simply allowing animal manures to sit around and age is a waste of the nutrients in that manure, so animal manures should be properly composted.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 12:17PM
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Lloyd

PART 205ÂNATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM

Data is current as of February 23, 2009

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;

Here is a link that might be useful: NATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 4:49PM
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organicguy(7)

Thanks pt03 3 Southern Manitoba,
That is pretty much what I have been saying. If I apply fresh manure in early March, I am not harvesting anything on that soil until mid-June, and root crops at the end of the season. There is no need to compost first and them wait a year to use it. By then you lose most of the nutrient value.

Ron
"The Garden Guy"
http://www.TheGardenGuy.org
"New Article & Journal Entry"

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 10:18PM
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Lloyd

Hi Ron

No problem, it was interesting looking at their website.

I do notice that they do use the phrase "incorporated into the soil". I would suspect that means a topical application would not qualify under that clause but that is my interpretation only.

Lloyd

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 11:33PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

pt03, what you have there is from the USDA, a group of people known to be not very serious about organic gardening/farming. Most of the organic farmers on the policy making board are really upset because the recommendations given to the USDA are very often changed bu those people to make them more friendly to people that are only interested in marketing to the growing number of us looking for organically grown foods.
So while those that are serious about organic certification strongly recommend not applying animal manures to your soil until it has aged 12 months, the USDA people, that published the "standards" you posted, changed that to meet the needs of agribusiness, the CAFO's. Those "standards" also talk about "raw manure" which is different from "fresh" manure.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 7:17AM
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Lloyd

Thanks Kimm, is there any way you could post a link to the "National Organic Standards people" you referred to a few posts back? I tried searching and I came up with a "National Organic Standards Board";

National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). A board established by the Secretary under 7 U.S.C. 6518 to assist in the development of standards for substances to be used in organic production and to advise the Secretary on any other aspects of the implementation of the National Organic Program.

Not being familiar with the American rules and regulations, I took that to mean that this Board was the "people" you were referring to.

I await your link.

Thanks

Lloyd

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 8:19AM
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elkwc(6b)

pt03,
That link I agree with and what I've been told by those in the know here in this area. The manure does better removed from the pens and mixed in. Like I stated above it is usually dry here so does no composting even in piled up till mixed in the soil. I try to mix in as early as possible. Usually start in Dec.. I can meet the organic standards if I wish adding this way. Safe enough for me. JD

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 11:43PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

I have conversed with many organic farmers that I know and have had a couple of EMails about the discussisons from a couple of the people on the board that made the recommendation about that 12 month rule, but I have no link to any web site other thna the Ag schools.
Animal manures should never be allowed to just sit around agin because doing so causes a major loss of nutrients both to the atmosphere and into the ground water. All animal manures should be composted as quickly as possible which will help stabilize the nutrients and also destroy any disease pathogens in that manure.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 7:20AM
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Lloyd

Thanks anyways.

After further looking I found the website of the Organic Trade Association, intersting site.

They have a section on e-coli facts where they re-iterate the 90 and 120 day rule and which includes the statement: "No other agricultural regulation in the United States imposes such strict control on the use of manure." and they also state "Certifiers and scientists recommend the use of well-composted manure to reduce the incidence of E. coli."

I also found it interesting that according to that site, it appears the U.S. has Canada whupped when it comes to regulations on the organics subject. Hats off to the U.S.

Lloyd

    Bookmark   February 27, 2009 at 8:52AM
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