Manure Vs. Compost:Which One is the Best for your Garden?

In this article, I will share a detailed guide on manure vs. compost.

These two components are used to enrich your garden soil with nutrients. Both are organic sources of nutrients for the plants.

However, it will depend on the process and material used to make them when it comes to their effectiveness.

To make compost, use materials such as wood chips, vegetable remains, and other plant wastes.

The two are different from each other and have varying effects on your garden.

Unlike fertilizers, compost and manure are affordable and Eco-friendly, so you’ve less to worry about in case of runoff during heavy rains.

However, you need to use a large amount on your crops to achieve better results.


What is manure?

Manure is commonly made from plant waste or livestock waste.

Some of the best livestock waste sources include; cows, sheep, chickens, goats, rabbit manure.

Waste from pigs, cats, dogs, and other carnivores is not recommended due to their deficiency in nutrients.

Its making process involves dumping the wastes into an open pit to allow decomposition to take place.

Advantages of Manure

  • It is free, but sometimes you may be required to pay for transport and labor.
  • It improves the soil’s structure and water retention ability, but this depends on the hums matter in it.
  • Manure boosts the drainage level of the soil by holding more moisture than ordinary soil.
  • It increases the organic components of the soil.
  • Improves water filtration level in the soil.
  • Manure boosts drainage of the soil.
  • It enhances aeration and soil texture.
  • Manure supplies your plants micro-nutrients and nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Disadvantages of manure

  • Manure can be challenging to transport and apply because of its bulkiness.
  • Fresh manure releases ammonia compounds which can burn the plants or seedlings.
  • The nutrient level is not constant and depends on the plant waste or animal manure used in its preparation.
  • You require a variety of livestock and poultry to get a good amount of manure to use in your garden.
  • If not sufficiently cured, it can introduce human pathogenic bacteria into the soil, potentially dangerous to human health. In most cases, these bacteria are found in animal waste from animals that feed on meat products. Avoid such manures; instead, use the waste from plant-eating animals.
  • In some cases, it can introduce weeds into your garden, especially if you used ruminant animal waste to make the manure.
  • Manure has a foul smell since it’s made from animal feces.
  • It leaches through the soil quickly, meaning that you will have to top it up from time to time(Source).
  • Some manure may have traces of antibiotics and pesticides which in turn affect the growth of the crops.’

Tips for maintaining manure

  • Avoid using waste from sick animals since it can ruin the manure and spread diseases to other animals and plants.
  • Cover or fence the manure decomposition area to ensure the livestock does not tamper with the feces and spread them all over the yard.
  • Use the manure at the bottom of the pile first to give the top layer to decompose completely.

How to apply manure

Manure is mainly applied on top of the soil surface. It is advisable to mix it with the top soil to avoid  fast leaching. Alternatively, it can be injected into the soil.

The amount to be applied will depend on composition of the manure and the soil needs.


Compost is an organic waste of decomposition process. It commonly takes place through the breakdown of dead leaves, food waste, and grasses.

Compost releases nutrients slowly and can take even months before its complete depletion.

Advantages of Compost

  • It can be a source of income to farmers with the required equipment.
  • Compost improves the overall soil health, which improves plant health in the long run.
  • It reduces soil erosion.
  • Compost improves nutrient uptake of plants from the soil.
  • It stabilizes soil pH by neutralizing soil, thus soil maintaining the soil PH.
  • Compost contains beneficial microbes that help protect diseases and increases nutrient cycling.
  • The possibility of weed seed introduction is low thanks to the high heat produced during decomposition.
  • Improve water retention capacity reducing irrigation frequency.
  • Reduces soil compactness and binds soil properties.
  • Increases water and air permeability in the soil.
  • Compost contains a high amount of nutrients due to its lower water content when compared to manure.
  • It provides organic matter by releasing nutrients slowly to the soil.

Disadvantages of compost

  • Producing compost is expensive, and it requires special equipment and a lot of planning and monitoring.
  • It is more expensive per lb. of the available nutrient as compared to manure.
  • If you are producing large compost quantities for commercial purposes, you will need a permit from the relevant authority.

How to apply compost

Before compost application, ensure that the decomposition process is over.

You can ensure this by turning the decomposing materials from time to time so that all materials are fully decomposed before use in your garden.

If you use the compost before decomposition, a lot of heat is generated, which can be harmful to the plants.

Check for a dark and soft with a crumbly texture and earthy smell to determine if the decomposition is over.

Poorly turned compost can also give a stinky smell as decomposition is still taking place.

The common application method is soil amendment which involves mixing around 3 inches of compost with 6-8 inches of soil.

Amending simply means adding some components into the soil to change its composition.

Tips On Maintaining Compost

  • Do not use green waste; instead, mix it with brown waste since grass, leaves, and plant remains release nitrogen into the compost pile. Mixing it with brown debris ensures that nitrogen does not dominate the pile.
  • Inform everyone of what should not be thrown in the compost bin.
  • Ensure your bin has enough oxygen and moisture, among other valuable ingredients, to allow decomposition

Difference in Manure vs. Compost

There are some differences when it comes to manure vs. compost. They include;

  1. Compost takes longer to start the decomposition process, unlike manure
  2. Manure is heavier and bulkier to carry than compost.
  3. To make compost, you will have to purchase compost bins, thermometers, some special tools, and natural accelerators to speed up the decomposition process.
  4. Manure is easier to make for farmers with livestock, while compost will require table scraps, plant remains, paper, and other biodegradable substances.

Similarities between Manure and Compost

Below are some of the similarities of manure vs. compost.

  • They are both excellent for growing healthy plants
  • Both are easy and cheap to make since you use the waste from your home.
  • You’ve to allow decomposition to take place before using the waste on your plants.

Conclusion on Manure Vs. Compost

Manure vs. compost! Both manure and compost are beneficial to plants.

However, it is up to you to choose which one is best for your garden.

You can use any of them depending on how easy you can get it.

If you have plenty of livestock, manure will be the best for you since animal waste is readily available.

In case you don’t own poultry or livestock, making a compost pit will be the best option.

Even with animals in your homestead, you can still make compost for your garden.

In case you don’t have plants or a garden to use the manure or compost on, you can sell it to those in need.

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