Manure is often part of a prescription for hot composting, and soil enrichment.

But why? Is it just for nitrogen? Is that why people go and get the excrement of vegetarian mammals to add to their gardens?

If it's nitrogen, why not use locally produced nitrogen instead rather then using energy to transport from outside to ones garden?

2 Answers 2


No, it's not just for the nitrogen content, which is usually pretty low by the time the composting process has taken place (fresh manure should never be used on open ground, it needs composting first). Adding humus rich, or organic, material such as composted manures or garden compost (produced by anaerobic means or not) to soil increases the bio diversity within the soil, and usually, trace elements - more bio diversity means more nutrient availability for plants growing within the soil. Humus rich materials are a 'catch all' prescription - they help poor, thin, sandy soils, and also help heavy, claggy soils. Soils which constantly produce crops and which are never treated to the addition of humus rich materials become poor and thin - the chemical fertilizers used to feed the crops growing within that soil simply provide nutrients to the crops, but do nothing at all for the soil. And it's the soil you primarily need to care great care of, rather than the plants growing within it.

If you want to know more about bio diversity, or the organisms present in soil, there's some reading here


In regard to the addition of manure for aerobic (hot) composting, this is usually added as an 'inoculant', meaning it contributes organisms which help with the process.


In response to the edit you've made in your question, I'd query precisely what you mean by 'locally produced nitrogen', particularly since there's an implication in the latter part of the final sentence that this 'nitrogen' source could be one from inside your own property, as opposed to bringing in a 'nitrogen' source from outside. I suppose if you have horses, maybe cattle of some sort, you might consider composting their dung with straw for a year or so and using that instead of buying it in.

I would reiterate, though, that the use of composted animal manures on soil is not done primarily for nitrogen content anyway, as explained in the first paragraph of this answer.

  • Use it ok for me to amend my question significantly for clarification? Or just ask another? Jan 19, 2016 at 18:36
  • Great answer. Also, don't forget about beneficial soil microbes from the manure. That's another one of the main benefits, as I understand it. I don't know if it's the manure that primarily brings beneficial microbes to the compost, or the composting that adds the microbes to the manure (but manure in and of itself is full of microbes, some of which are probably quite good for plants, whether or not the sum total of microbes is good for them). Jan 20, 2016 at 1:51
  • @Shule - 'microbes' would be included under 'organisms' and also 'bio diversity'... and note there are both good and bad 'microbes' or bacteria in manure.... and soil come to that.
    – Bamboo
    Jan 20, 2016 at 11:26
  • @GrahamChiu - if your alterations completely change the nature of your question, best to ask another. If you just want to ask something additional, you can do it in the form of comments here, and I'll edit my answer to suit
    – Bamboo
    Jan 20, 2016 at 11:29
  • @Bamboo I missed that you mentioned organisms, although I'm aware they're microbes. Sorry. Jan 20, 2016 at 23:03

We use aged manure on our tree crops and it's fine, as long as it's aged. It's full of ammonia and will absolutely burn up veggie crops if not seasoned (aged). Manure that's aged is wonderful for pasture lands, some vegetable, trees, shrubs and that's about it. We have poultry houses and we have lots and use a lot also in our tree farm.

Fresh manure has microbes in it that may be dangerous. It should be incorporated into the soil when it is aged or composted. Do not apply fresh manure to edible crops that will soon be harvested or store manure next to produce storage or handling areas. If manure touches foods, it can cause foodborne illnesses. If it is stored rather than incorporated into the soil, make sure there is no runoff into sources of drinking water or food production areas. Wheelbarrows, buckets and equipment that have touched fresh manure should not touch produce that will be eaten raw.

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