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manure with earth, peat or muck. This is done by making a foundation of about six inches of dirt, and on top of this placing alternate layers of manure any soil, moistening the mass as the heap grows. The sides and top should be nicely smoothed off and the mass covered with a thin layer of earth to prevent loss of nitrogen. After about two months the pile should be turned over, the materials thoroughly mixed and more water added if necessary to keep the compost moist.
A compost in great favor with greenhouse men is one made of manure and sod, these materials being piled in alternate layers as described above. This gives the fibrous compost so desirable for bench and pot work. Any of the refuse organic materials of the farm or garden may be used in composts. Weeds, refuse parts of plants, dead animals, kitchen wastes, etc., may be added to the manure-earth mixture, or composted separately, for handled in this way they decompose rapidly and without offensive odors. The presence of the earth decreases the loss of ammonia where highly nitrogeneous materials are used.
Some market gardeners throw the horse manure as it comes from the city stables into the pig pens to be first worked over by the pigs, and then composted with the earth, and this plan is no doubt a wise one.
In using composts a good practice is to add bone meal, and one of the potash salts to the heap. In this way the plant food in the bone meal is made available, to the plants, and the compost is made more valuable.
It occasionally happens that one wishes to produce a stock of well rotted manure in a very short time. This can be done by mixing the fresh manure with a small quantity of freshly slaked lime. In this way the manure is made to decay very rapidly, but as the decomposition is probably attended by more loss of nitrogen than usually occurs in composts it is not to be recommended for general use.
Best Used as a Top Dressing.–Nature applies all her fertilizers to the surface of the ground. Many farmers have come to the conclusion that Nature's method is the best, and whenever possible are using manure as a top dressing. The tendency is for the elements of fertility to pass gradually down into the soil, especially the compounds containing nitrogen. For this reason it is best to apply the fertilizer to the surface so that as the soluble food descends it comes into contact with plant roots, and is not carried to such a depth as to be beyond their reach. Manure to be used in this way must be so fine as not to interfere seriously with subsequent tillage of the ground. This condition of fineness generally exists if the manure is well rotted but even fresh manure may be utilized as a top dressing if cut straw or other fine material has been used for bedding. It is well to apply the manure directly after plowing and to incorporate it thoroughly with the soil by use of the harrow or cultivator preparatory to planting the field. Another reason in favor of top dressing over other methods of applying manure is that the organic matter added to the surface soil in this way acts as a mulch, and tends to prevent the evaporation of water from the soil.
Should be Spread Immediately.-Two general methods for the application of manure are in common use, one is to throw it into heaps where it is allowed to remain some time before being spread, the other to broadcast it directly from the wagon. The first method is objectionable for several reasons. In the first place it increases the work necessary to spread the manure as it must be handled twice, and it takes no more labor to spread it from the wagon than from the heap on the ground. When piled in this way it is very often allowed to stand for some days at great risk of injurious fermentations, such as have been described. The leachings from these heaps make the spots directly beneath more fertile than the rest of the field, and hence produce a rank growth at those places. No doubt the reader has often seen a field where he could detect every spot upon which the manure heap had been placed by the brighter green color and more luxuriant growth of the crop. This uneven growth is undesirable because in the case of grains it increases the danger of lodging in the more fertile spots, and in any case it results in unevenness in the maturity of the crop. A crop that has a large supply of plant food, for instance, has a longer period of growth than one with a meager supply, and consequently is later in maturing. If, therefore, the field is very uneven in fertility a part of the crop will be ready to harvest some time before the rest has matured. If the manure is spread directly from the wagon not only is the labor lessened but the danger of unevenness in growth is to some extent avoided. There is no likelihood of loss in the value of the manure when it is spread in a thin layer on the ground, as has already been stated.
Manure spreaders are now being offered for sale of such efficiency that they are likely to come into general use. Some recent experiments seem to indicate that manure gives better returns when spread by the machine than it does when applied by hand. Whatever method is used to spread the manure it will readily be seen that the finer the material the easier it will
Placing the manure in piles in the field is an objectionable practice.
manure should be broadcasted as soon as it is hauled to the field
be to distribute it evenly. Where very coarse manure is used it is sometimes advantageous to supplement the spreading from the wagon by the use of a drag that will break up the larger lumps, and thus scatter it more uniformly.
Depth to Cover Manure.—Where the manure is so coarse as to interfere with tillage it becomes necessary to plow it under, and in this case good judgment is necessary to prevent its being covered to too great a depth. Especially in clay soils, where the air does not readily enter, it is possible to bury the manure so