A neighbor of mine finishes a small head of cattle in his small feedlot. He feeds hay and grain, and as a natural byproduct these animals produce manure on top of the grass. To keep this output under control, my friend scrapes this organic matter from the topsoil, creating piles of composted manure.
And because soil in my part of the country has naturally tight clay soil, I put this material to good use to strengthen my garden soil.
Another Value of Farm Neighbors
Keep in mind that neighboring farmers can bring a lot of value to your operation, too. Composted animal manure is definitely a great example of this.
Yes, the material was kind of clumpy when I first got to it. But these clumps broke up easily when I worked the compost into my garden soil.
While it’s true I’ll need to break up my garden soil to incorporate the compost, addition of this material (and future loads, too) will actually strengthen my soil composition. And, of course, the clayey soil will get a boost of nutrients to deliver to garden plants.
What Makes Quality Compost?
Just like anything, compost is only as good as what goes into it. In the case of the compost in the video, the material contains:
- cow manure
- remnants of hay left uneaten by cattle
- a bit of soil mixed in during manure removal
Now, you shouldn’t put fresh manure into a garden, of course, for pathogens it could contain. But this compost has been “cooked” by sitting for an appropriate amount of time. So the cool compost is ready for my garden.
How to Work the Compost In
So how should you add compost to the garden? Check out the video above to see how we spread the material, as well as to see how this compost immediately improved our soil structure.