Preparation of composite manure helps in recycling organic matter into cheap non-chemical fertiliser for farmers.
Conventionally, composite manure is applied by placing lumps of the decayed matter around stems of crops or broadcast in the field prior to planting.
But farmers can achieve faster results by minting out manure ‘composite tea’ from the manure before ‘serving’ it to the crops directly as foliage fertilizer for better results.
Inorganic foliage fertilisers, which are in liquid, are common in enhancing horticultural crop yields, moreso vegetables.
Minting composite tea from decayed manure does not require much expertise. Adding water to shovel-full manure in a gallon would pick the simple nutrients and form ions that are easily absorbed by crops.
Chlorinated water should not be used because it can cause death of beneficial micro-organisms which break down organic matter.
For maximum extraction and ionization of the mineral nutrients, the suspension is left for three to four days before sieving to obtain chelate liquid, which is rich in potassium, phosphorus ammonium ions among others.
Chelate is liquid is diluted with about 10 liters of water against one litre of composite tea before application by pump spray, watering can or any other convenient method.
The tea is sieved using fine piece of cloth to remove large particles that can block nozzles of spraying equipment.
Other than application by the foliage, stems can be served with this cup of tea, allowing for more microbes to join other beneficial colonies for continued organic matter breakdown.
Leaf application is more preferred because it minimizes loss of nutrients through leeching.
Farmers want to apply fertilizers to hasten growth of crops such as kales, cabbage and tomatoes by application of foliage fertilizers, but health conscious consumers are opting for organically produced goods.
Inorganic fertilisers also increase soil acidity besides killing beneficial organism. Application of the composite tea would not interfere with beneficial insects like pollinators.
Joseph Mwabege of Kwale County’s Shimba Hills is trying the process to substitute for chemical fertiliser he is using in his small orchard of tomatoes and kales.
He has a small composite pit he has been using for year now, but want to adopt this ‘new’ way of farming.