Many homesteaders are opting to use organic fertilizers and manure over their chemical counterparts. The reason is simple – organic manure is full of quality nutrients and supports nutrient recycling – the land produces the crops, which are then used to feed livestock. In turn, the livestock will fertilize the land. This is a perfect cycle as long as it is done right.
However, while manure may be a good option for most types of crops, most people are curious to know whether manure, particularly chicken manure, is good for fruit trees. In this article we will learn everything there is about chicken manure and whether they are good for fruit trees or not.
Chicken Manure: Is It Good For Fruit Trees?
As chicken manure is allowed to sit for a few hours, the microbes present in the soil will start breaking it down into simple nutrients that can be absorbed and used by the fruit trees. Once it is composted, the chicken manure will release three important nutrients needed by plants to thrive – potassium (K), phosphorus (P), and nitrogen (N).
As compared to chemical fertilizers, chicken manure is also known for containing more organic carbon, which is related to improving soil health. Additionally, manure is also known to be renewable, affordable, and abundant.
How Do Manure Benefit Fruit Trees?
Manure is known to provide high amounts of potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen that plants require to survive and thrive. Additionally, it also contains traces of selenium, zinc, and copper. Manure is considered a crucial part of nutrient recycling in nature and is an important addition for fruit trees.
To get a better idea of how manure benefits fruit trees, let us compare it with chemical fertilizers:
Chemical Fertilizers VS Manure
This topic has found itself a part of many debates. However, most experts would agree that manure is the better alternative to chemical fertilizers. This is because the nutrients released by manure are more compact, which makes them digestible. Meanwhile, chemical fertilizers are made from fossil fuels, like plastic, which is not deemed beneficial in the long run.
Additionally, studies have concluded that manure contains organic carbon, which is an important resource for life, and nitrogen present in the soil. In most cases, it is recommended that the carbon-nitrogen ratio in the soil needs to be 30:1, which means there should be 30 parts carbons for single nitrogen.
As we know, carbon is an important component for healthy plants since it provides a lot of benefits for the soil microbes. Additionally, mycelium is a fungal layer that feeds on the liquid carbon that is released by the tree roots, which in turn provides disease resistance, water, and food to the plants.
The fungi also help in nutrient cycling and maintaining water dynamics. Along with bacteria, the fungi also act as natural decomposers for the soil food cycle because organic materials that are hard to digest are broken down so that they can be absorbed easily by the plants and other organisms.
How Is Chicken Manure Good For Fruit Trees?
It takes a lot of dedication and hard work to grow delicious fruit. Once the fruit trees emerge from dormancy, they will require a major nutrient boost to help in fruit formation, leaf growth, etc. However, is chicken manure the best choice for fruit trees? In this section, we will talk about some of its pros and cons.
When Is Chicken Manure Bad For Fruit Trees?
For centuries, chicken manure has been used as fertilizer for all types of plants. However, the part that makes this manure so powerful for the trees and plants is also something that can potentially be dangerous. When you take a look at fresh chicken manure, you will see that it is a smelly and wet combination of liquid and chicken waste, which is full of ammonia.
The reason why the chicken manure is so smelly is because of the ammonia, which breaks down into nitrogen. Nitrogen acts as a growth booster for plants. However, while excess nitrogen does help in the growth of branches, it often does it at the expense of the flowers. If there are no flowers, there will be no fruit growth.
If you want to use manure for fertilizing fruit trees, ensure that you do not use un-compost and raw chicken manure.
Read more: Is Horse Manure Good For Vegetable Gardens?
How To Turn Chicken Manure Into Fertilizer?
Here are the steps that can help you understand how to convert chicken manure into a garden fertilizer:
- The first step is to take two bins; ensure the bins are made of hardwood.
- Next, collect the chicken manure using the mask and gloves. Gloves and masks are important because chicken waste contains bacteria and fungi that can be harmful to humans. Use dropping trays to collect the chicken droppings. If you do not have one, you can utilize a pitchfork for sifting through the bedding and collect the manure manually.
- The next step is ensuring the ratio is right. Since manure contains high levels of nitrogen. Hence, always mix green materials and part bedding when collecting the manure.
- Ensure that the compost is hot. You do not have to do anything – when you are layering the manure, it will automatically create heat in the center. The formation of heat is important as it kills dangerous bacteria. Let the pile sit for a few days until the measurement on the thermometer reads at least 55°C.
- Once done, keep turning the compost and mix it entirely. Keep repeating this process once the compost becomes dry and nice.
- The last step is all about curing the compost. Once the compost is ready, transfer the content into a curing bin. In here, let the compost sit for 50-60 days before using it for your fruit trees. Curing is the process of letting the compost decompose so that it gets dark and crumbly. One indication that the compost is ready is when the content starts smelling more like soil and less like manure.
- After the compost is ready, you can start applying it to your fruit trees; we will discuss more it in the later sections.
When Is Chicken Manure Good For Fruit Trees?
Instead, it is advised that you make use of composted chicken manure that you can purchase from a local farm or local garden center in bags. To compost your own chicken manure, ensure that the fresh chicken waste is composted on some form of bedding, like a carbon-rich straw. This combination of nitrogen and carbon makes up for a perfect environment for microbes to thrive.
As the manure is composting, the microbes present in the soil will keep breaking it down into nutrients so that it is easier for fruit trees to absorb and utilize. While this process takes place, the excess nitrogen will evaporate and get released as ammonia gas. According to experts, it is suggested that you turn over the soil several times and let it rest for at least another six months before you can apply them to your plants and fruit trees.
As mentioned previously, successful composting will result in the formation of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the manure.
Chicken manure is considered a better option than manure from other animals. Based on research, manure from cow and sheep contain 1% nitrogen, 1% potassium, and 1% phosphorus. On the other hand, chicken manure contains 5% nitrogen, 2% potassium, 3% phosphorus.
Another important benefit of chicken manure is that the manure from egg-bearing hens contains more percentage of calcium due to the eggshell production process. With the help of calcium, the cells of the roots, shoots, and fruits are strengthened, thereby resulting in juicy and more tasty fruit.
How Much Chicken Manure Is Enough For Your Fruit Trees?
If you plan on utilizing composted chicken manure, it is suggested that you spread just a single inch of the fertilizer around the fruit tree (s) at the start of the spring season. You will notice some positive changes regarding the tree’s production and growth.
You can also choose to get your soil analyzed from a local cooperative extension to determine whether the fertilizer or manure is indeed necessary. If the soil is already high in nitrogen, adding manure and/or fertilizers can prove to be detrimental for the soil. On the other hand, if the tree is growing at the rate of 12-18-inches per year or you are adding manure to the backyard grasses near the trees, you do not have to apply extra fertilizer or manure.
If you are using a specific brand, you can choose the formulation based on the type of fruit tree. Some of these brands also contain traces of natural potash as well as a bone meal to promote the healthy growth of the fruit trees. This extra potassium and phosphorus often aid in the formation of fruits and flower buds.
As you can see, chicken manure is considered the best choice when it comes to applying manure to fruit trees. It is very beneficial for the trees and will promote faster and healthier growth of the flowers and fruits.