Animal Manures

Other solid organic wastes, such as livestock manures, can be added to leaf compost piles as a nitrogen source. This will speed up the composting process, but must be carefully monitored to maintain aerobic conditions and prevent odors. The addition of livestock manures to the piles will also increase the nitrogen content of the finished product.

A C:N ratio of 25-30:1 is optimum for efficient composting. It is important when blending raw materials to create a mixture that will approximate this ideal and provide the proper characteristics for aerobic composting. A higher C:N ratio will result in a slower rate of decomposition. A lower ratio results in excess nitrogen loss and possible odors if the mix is not turned often. Leaves have a C:N ratio of about 40-80:1, and manures typically have a C:N ratio of about 10-18:1 in the fresh state. Addition of carbonaceous bedding such as sawdust, straw or newspaper will increase the C:N ratio. Other factors, such as moisture content and turning schedule will affect the blend of materials, so some experimentation will be necessary.

Compost contains less nitrogen than fresh manure, because much of the nitrogen is volatilized during the composting process. Much of the remaining nitrogen is incorporated into organic compounds and is released slowly when the compost is applied to the soil.