How much composted manure per square foot? The National Gardening Association recommends using one pound of compost per square foot of garden soil for every inch of rain that falls during the growing season. The amount of rain determines the amount of nitrogen needed by plants. If there is no rain, then no nitrogen-rich compost should be added to the soil. If there are three inches of rain, then use three pounds per square foot; four inches equals four pounds per square foot; and so on.
Until the 1990s, many home gardeners had never heard of compost or composting. While some may still not be familiar with them, most gardeners now know what a valuable resource compost can be for their vegetable gardens. Compost is an organic material that is made from decomposed organic materials such as plant remains and animal manure.
Compost is rich in nutrients that are essential for healthy plant growth. The composition of compost varies greatly depending on the materials used to make it, but it typically contains around 3-5% organic matter.
Making your own compost is a great way to recycle yard waste, yard trimmings, and other organic materials that are commonly found around the home or yard. Some materials like weeds and diseased plants should not be added to a compost pile because they can cause problems with the finished product.
When making your own compost pile, one of the most important factors to consider is the ratio of carbon rich material to nitrogen rich material. A good rule of thumb is to have three times more carbon rich material than nitrogen rich material in your pile.
The following article will help you determine the amount of compost manure that you need per square foot.
There are many different opinions on how much compost manure to use in a square foot of garden space. It seems like one day it is one cubic foot and then another time it is five cubic feet. I have heard gardeners say to use six inches or even twelve inches of composted manure.
The truth is that there really is no set amount that can be used by every gardener every time. Gardeners need to take into account things like the size of the pile, how long it has been sitting and other important things before deciding how much should be put in a particular area. When composting, it is best to start with a general layer at least six inches thick and allow the pile to sit for several months before adding more.
After that, additional layers can be added every few months until the pile reaches a height of four feet or more. The longer it sits and the higher it gets, the more nitrogen it will contain which will make up for any loss of nitrogen when using the composted manure as fertilizer.
Methods for calculating the amount of composted manure per square foot
There are two methods of calculating the amount of composted manure to use in a square foot of land. One method is based on estimated nitrogen needs, and the other method uses a percentage of available nitrogen.
The fact that both of these figures are used can be confusing. In order to help you make better decisions about how much composted manure to apply in your garden we have provided explanations below.
Total nitrogen needs method:
The first method of calculating the amount of composted manure per square foot is based on the nitrogen needs of plants. It is a good method to use if you are not sure how much nitrogen your soil currently has and you want to build it up organically.
Here are some general guidelines:
- Lawns, a low-nitrogen need crop, need about 1 pound of composted manure per square foot. Vegetables and flowers, medium-nitrogen need crops, need about 2 pounds of composted manure per square foot.
- Fruits, high-nitrogen need crops, need about 4 pounds of composted manure per square foot.
For this method, you must know the level of available nitrogen in your compost. This can be found on a tag that is attached to the bag. If no such tag is present, you can use a soil testing kit to find out the level of available nitrogen. The total nitrogen need for your garden (in lbs.) divided by the amount of available nitrogen per cubic yard should equal the number of cubic yards needed to supply all your garden’s nitrogen needs.
Example: Nitrogen available = 1% Total Nitrogen Need = 200 lbs. 200 lbs. / 1% = 2000 cubic yards needed 2000 cu yds. / 3 cu yds/yd3 = 666 cu ft needed at 2″ depth
This method works well if all the nitrogen is being supplied by composted manure, but if any commercial fertilizer or organic sources such as cottonseed meal or feather meal, or organic fertilizers like fish emulsion or seaweed extract are being used, then these must be factored into the formula.
If your soil test indicates that you need 46 pounds of nitrogen per acre, and you apply 5 tons per acre, you will get approximately 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square foot area (1,000 square feet = 1 acre).
The formula for this calculation is: 46 lbs N/A x 5 tons/A = 22 lbs N/A / 1,000 sq ft = 0.22 lb N/A / sq ft So if your soil test indicates that you need 46 pounds of nitrogen per acre and you apply 5 tons per acre, you will get approximately 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square foot area.
Note: The above example is only used as a learning tool and not as a recommendation or suggestion for application rates. There are many factors involved with nutrient application and soil testing is the ultimate guide for when, how and how much to apply any nutrients or amendments to your lawn or garden area
Percentage of available Nitrogen Method
The second method of calculating the amount of composted manure per square foot uses a percentage of available nitrogen in the compost. This is a good method to use if you have tested your soil and know what the nitrogen levels are or want to add specific nutrients to it. To figure out how much nitrogen you need to add to your soil in order to match the desired level, divide the desired amount by 4%.
Total solids are the amount of nutrients in a product. Total solids are comprised of three main components: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (N-P-K). The N-P-K ratio is the amount of each nutrient in relation to the others. For example, an 8-1-2 ratio means that there is twice as much nitrogen as phosphorus and four times as much as potassium in the mixture. A 10-1-2 ratio means that there is twice as much nitrogen as phosphorus and five times as much potassium in the mix.
Deciding how much Nitrogen you need
Deciding how much composted manure to use on a plot of land is based on the nitrogen needs of your crop for the growing season. The amount needed depends on the rate at which crops utilize nitrogen, plus any nitrogen applied in other forms such as fertilizer or legumes.
To calculate your nitrogen needs, you need to know the anticipated yield of your crop, and then subtract the amount of nitrogen it has absorbed from legumes or fertilizer. That figure is the amount of nitrogen that must be supplied by composted manure. The best way to determine how much nitrogen your crop needs is to have a soil test done before planting.
Existing levels of available nitrogen can then be determined by analyzing the samples. If a soil test was done last year, and your goal is to grow a similar crop, you can use last year’s test results as an estimate this year. If no soil tests have been done, you’ll have to rely on information provided with composted manure bags and/or discussions with experts who know your specific region’s crops well.
Experts generally agree that a wide range of nitrogen availability exists among different crops in different regions. For example, in some regions corn uses more nitrogen than any other crop; in others, soybeans are heavy users, and sometimes cotton is.
Whether you’re a novice or an experienced gardener, it’s easy to use too much compost manure in your garden. Composted manure is beneficial, but only if it’s used properly. A common mistake is applying too much of this organic material to a garden bed. When you add composted manure to the soil, be sure to follow the instructions on the package carefully. If you’re in doubt about how much composted manure per square foot, play it safe. Apply too little composted manure and the desired effect won’t be as great as if you used enough of it.