One of most useful pieces of equipment on the farm is the New Idea Model 12-A Manure Spreader. We use it to apply the manure compost (shown in the background) to the fields. We stockpile the horse manure and bedding (straw, hay and sawdust) into a single pile. After several months, when we dig into the middle of the pile, we find something that resembles dirt. This being the case, the manure has already gone through the decomposition, or composting, process. Another sign is the presence of earthworms in the stockpile, which attract the chickens to find them by scratching around the pile. All of this manure pile activity is a sure sign of springtime on the farm.
Manure compost is the best all-around natural fertilizer and soil building product available. It is applied and incorporated (tilled) into the soil. Soils that receive organic matter from manure inputs support greater soil microbial activity, which in turn, provides a long-term, reliable supply of nutrients to cover crop plants. The cover crops grow and then are incorporated into the soil to provide “green” manure to feed the growing garlic.
It’s all being very sustainable, a soil nutrient gift from nature, and much better for the soil than using synthetic fertilizers.