The use of cow dung as fertilizer is as common today as it was in the 1900’s. And it seems to have made a debut in recent months, perhaps due to the huge surge in fertilizer prices. But if there is anything to be said about cow dung, it should be the work that goes into getting the dung to the farm. Especially if you come from any one of the Kenya highlands.

And while many farmers in the country continue to deposit truckloads of dung into their farms, the question of the nutrient value clouds this practice. Just what does cow dung do for your farm? Does it do anything at all?

Cow dung nutrient value

According to gardeningknowhow.com, cow dung is mainly made up of digested grain and grass. It is rich in organic material and nutrients. It contains about 3 percent nitrogen, 2 percent phosphorus, and 1 percent potassium (3-2-1 NPK). Additionally, cow dung has high levels of ammonia and potentially dangerous pathogens. To control this, aging your manure may help in mitigating the risks that may come from the high ammonia levels, as well as the pathogens found therein. Mixing your dung with lighter materials such as hay and kitchen wastes like vegetables, and then composting the mixture immensely improves on the nutrient value of the dung.

Benefits of composting your cow manure

Allowing composted cow dung to sit for a few weeks will help in eliminating the toxic ammonia that is found in freshly excreted dung. Similarly, live pathogens such as E. coli and weed seeds will lose viability once the dung is allowed to sit for a period of time. Composting your dung increases the organic matter that is eventually passed on to the soil. Organic matter has an array of benefits to the soil. More importantly, composting your manure reduces green house gas production by a third, making cow dung friendlier to the environment.

Benefits of using composted dung

Composted cow manure has benefits to the soil. First, it greatly increases the moisture holding capacity of the soil, which translates into less watering of your farm. Secondly, composted manure allows proper soil aeration. This then helps in breaking up of compacted soils.

Needless to say, composted cow dung makes for an excellent, nutrient-rich plant growing medium. Farmers can either mix the dung into the soil, or use the top-dressing method.

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