Manures & Fertilizers: Types, Uses & Examples

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  • 0:03 Manures vs. Fertilizers
  • 0:47 Manure
  • 1:12 Compost
  • 2:10 Organic Fertilizers
  • 4:01 Synthetic Fertilizers
  • 5:03 Lesson Summary
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Instructor
Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Expert Contributor
Christianlly Cena

Christianlly has taught college physics and facilitated laboratory courses. He has a master's degree in Physics and is pursuing his doctorate study.

Farmers and gardeners have quite a few choices when it comes to manures and fertilizers. In this lesson, learn the difference between the two, what types are available, and what each is used for.

Manures vs. Fertilizers

Farmers and gardeners want their plants to grow. To that end, they use both manures and fertilizers. In this lesson, you'll learn what some of these are along with the uses of each.

First, though, let's talk about the differences between manures and fertilizers. Both are soil additives that improve the soil quality helping plants to grow. The main difference between the two is that manure is all natural animal droppings, while fertilizer may be natural but may also have chemicals and other unknown substances added to it. Examples of manure include rabbit, horse, cow, and chicken poop and bat guano. Examples of fertilizers include synthetic chemical blends, minerals, and compost from decaying organic matter.

Manure

Now, let's take a look at manure first, and then we'll look at different types of fertilizers.

Manure is animal poop. The main benefit of manure is it provides nitrogen. It's downside is that it smells and it's unsanitary, so you have to wash your hands any time you work with it. Also, any food plants grown in soil with manure in it must also be thoroughly cleaned. To use it, you work it thoroughly into the soil.

Compost

Now, let's look at some different types of fertilizer. The first is compost. Compost is decaying organic matter that you can make in your own backyard from kitchen scraps and yard scraps. When you mow your lawn, you can put your grass shreds together in a pile, and it will decompose and turn into compost. You can do the same with your kitchen food scraps. You put it in a pile outside, and you let nature do its thing, and before you know, you'll have compost that is rich in nutrients for your plants.

To use compost, mix it into the soil. If you use it as mulch, much of the nitrogen will evaporate into the air. The downside to using compost is that the nutrients released depend on the quality of the organic matter you used to make your compost. If your organic matter isn't nutrient dense to begin with, then your compost won't have many nutrients either. Also, when compared to synthetic fertilizers, compost is not as concentrated nutrient-wise, so you'll get fewer nutrients per pound.

Organic Fertilizers

Another natural form of fertilizer is human urine. That's right, human pee. Because it contains uric acid, adding urine to a compost pile will actually help it compost faster. And adding urine to soil to make urinated soil in the fall will prepare it for your crops in spring. Why is urine so good? Because it contains a lot of nitrogen, and it's organic. It has an N-P-K (or nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) ratio of 10:1:4, so it's perfect for nitrogen-loving plants such as tomatoes and cucumbers.

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Additional Activities

Writing Prompts on Manures and Fertilizes


Prompt 1

Write an essay describing the pros and cons of using manure and ammonium sulfate as fertilizers. For each type of fertilizer, students should include information about the composition of the fertilizer, its influence on crop yield and its impact on the environment. For ease, provide a table showing these advantage and disadvantages.

Prompt 2

Scientific studies have not been able to consistently find differences in taste, health, or safety between food grown using organic and inorganic fertilizers. Suppose that in your place, you use inorganic fertilizers in growing vegetable crops. Unexpectedly, it rained very hard one day causing flood to wash away the plants together with these fertilizers. The chemical components of these fertilizers eventually found its way and mixed with safe drinking water consumed by animals and humans. In your opinion, will these chemical components that are now part of drinking water pose a threat to those who consume it?

Prompt 3

Inorganic fertilizers produce quicker results and higher crop yields, as these can be easily applied while using the organic fertilizers take time. With regards to this, why do you think some farmers still continue to use organic fertilizers? To have an idea, compare the fertilizers used in first world countries on those used by third world countries.

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