Farmyard manure FYM

This is the traditional material used to maintain and improve soil fertility. It consists of straw or other bedding, mixed with animal faeces and urine. The exact value of this material depends upon the proportions of the ingredients, the degree of decomposition and the method of storage. Samples vary considerably. Much of the FYM is rotted down in the first growing season, but almost half survives for another year and half of that goes on to a third season and so on. A full range of nutrients is released into the soil and the addition of major nutrients should be allowed for when calculating fertilizer requirements. The continued release of large quantities of nitrogen can be a problem, especially on unplanted ground in the autumn, when the nitrates formed are leached deep into the soil over the winter and can pollute waterways.

FYM is most valued for its ability to provide organic matter and humus for maintaining or improving soil structure. As with any bulky organic matter, FYM must be worked into soils where conditions are favourable for continued decomposition to occur. Where fresh organic matter is worked into wet and compacted soils, the need for oxygen outstrips supply and anaerobic conditions develop to the detriment of any plants present. Where this occurs a foul smell (see sulphur p325) and grey colourings occur. FYM should not be worked in deep, especially on heavy soil.

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