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Feeding the Soil - Compost & Manure

North Bournemouth Allotment Society Limited

Cornelia Road, Wallisdown, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH10 4FG


Digging in Manure or Composted materials is essential to ensure that the soil on your plot is kept in good condition.   Incorporating Manure or Compost into the soil on your plot it improves the soils structure and moisture retaining ability as well increasing fertility.

This is particularly important on our site as generally the soil types found in Southern England naturally have very low levels of organic matter in them compared to the rest of the United Kingdom.  

By far the most popular way of improving the soil on an allotment is to add Farmyard Manure to the soil.  Manure is derived from animal faeces and urine, it normally has a percentage of straw or wood chipping's in it, which will have been used as bedding material for the animals.   The quality and effectiveness of manure varies depending on the animals it has come from and the bedding material that has been used.   

A few years ago some problems surfaced involving traces of industrial grade hormone-type chemical weedkillers being used on grasslands to kill broad leaved weeds being found in manure.   These chemicals were able to pass through cattle and horses feed on treated grass without breaking down and were transferred into the manure.   This resulted in damage to broad leaf vegetable crops.  Increased controls on farms should have stopped this problem from occurring.

Concerns have also been expressed recently about the possible implication of using farmyard manure contaminated with traces of antibiotics. The increased (excessive) use of antibiotics in animal husbandry has resulted in traces of these antibiotics being found in farmyard manure.   Manure from dairy cows seems to be particularly effected.

Investigations are taking place into the possible lasting changes in the composition of bacteria in the soil that may be result after repeated applications of manure containing traces of antibiotics.  Some recent reports have found that the trend towards overuse of antibiotics in farming is leading to a reduction of beneficial soil bacteria and an increase in microorganisms in the soil that are harmful to humans.

Knowing where your manure has come from could help you make an informed choice.   Considerable information about this problem is available on the Internet.

  If you are unable to find a reliable source of manure alternatives would be leaf mould, garden compost or composted garden waste from a local council.

We have had no problems reported with manure supplied by either of the two local farms that deliver manure to our Allotments.

Information on the nutrient content of Manure and other Chemical fertilisers are available by pressing the link buttons opposite.   This will download a PDF file.   It will also explain the often used “NPK” values of Plant Fertiliser