Have you ever tried growing a plant in your garden? You did everything correctly, you gave it water and kept it in sunlight. And yet, it did not grow. What did you do wrong? Do you just not have a green thumb? Or was it perhaps that the plant needed manure and fertilizers? Let us learn more about them.
We know that plants need certain essentials to grow and nurture. Water and sunlight are the obvious ones. However, plants also need certain nutrients (like nitrate, magnesium, etc) which it absorbs from the soil. But say your soil is lacking in certain minerals that these plants require for growth. Then these minerals and nutrients must be added to the soil to make it fertile. So we add manure and fertilizers which compensate for the infertility of the soil.
Manure is a natural fertilizer. To make manure, decomposition of plants and animal waste is done by farmers. The product of this decomposition is a material rich in organic matter which we call manure. Manure does not have a high content of nutrients. Instead, it gives fertility to the soil by adding humus (an organic component of the soil). This improves the soil’s physical properties, with better retention of moisture and more aeration.
And since manure is made entirely of organic materials it does not contribute to any form of pollution. In fact, it reduces waste on the farm, by decomposing waste materials to make manure.
What are Types of Crops?
What is Composting?
Composting is the process of converting plant and animal waste to manure. The farmers dig a pit on the farm, where all organic waste material from the farm (such as cow dung, vegetable waste, weeds, etc) are collected. Then the pit is covered with a thick layer of mud to stop air and water from entering. The pit is left undisturbed for months. Here, the microbes present start decomposing the waste to produce manure. There is also a method of using earthworms for the purpose of composting. Earthworms consume almost all organic matter, which then breaks down in their intestine and produces humus. This process is called vermicomposting or vermiculture.
Fertilizers are natural or synthetic materials that we add to the soil to provide the plants with the nutrients they need. They can be organic or inorganic in nature. They work by providing plants and crops with nutrients they need to grow to their fullest and at a faster rate than attained via a natural process. Chemical-based fertilizers also act as an insecticide, protecting plants from pests and insects.
Fertilizers are economically very beneficial to farmers. They expedite plant growth and are not very expensive to procure. Fertilizers also increase the yield from a farm. The plants also have a superior appearance i.e. they appear greener and healthier when we use fertilizers.
However, fertilizers can also have a harmful effect on the environment. They contain synthetic chemicals that are not biodegradable. They can cause both soil and water pollution. Over time fertilizers also make the soil acidic in nature causing soil degradation. So between manure and fertilizers, fertilizers are a better source of nutrients for the plant, manure is a better alternative as far as the environment is concerned.
Learn more about Protection and Harvesting of Crops here.
Solved Example for You
Q: Apart from fertility, manure also increases what in the soil?
- Decomposition of microorganisms
- Roots holding capacity
- Soil binding capacity
- Water holding capacity
Solution: The correct answer is option “d”. Manure contributes humus to the soil, improving its texture and increasing its moisture-holding capacity.