Can Pig Manure Be Used in Gardening?
If you own a pig, you’ve got to deal with managing the manure. In some cases, it’s safe to use this manure as a soil amendment. If, on the other hand, you’re buying or hauling manure from another source, it’s best to choose a different type of manure, such as chicken, beef or sheep manure. Doing so will reduce the risk of pathogens and probably give you a better quality fertilizer.
Pig manure, along with dog and cat manures, should never be used on vegetable gardens. These manures often carry parasites, such as roundworms, that survive the composting process. Cow, sheep, poultry or horse manures are safer choices. Manure, in general, should always be composted before it is added to a vegetable garden to avoid potential pathogens, such as E.coli, which can cause illness. If you use manure that has not been composted, apply it to the garden at least 120 days before you harvest root crops or crops that grow directly on the ground, such as lettuce. Raw manures should be spread at least 90 days before you harvest crops such as tomatoes and green beans that don’t touch the soil.
If you have a surplus of pig manure on hand, it might be tempting to use it, but if you’re buying manure, it’s probably best to invest your money in another kind. Pig manure is relatively low in plant nutrients when compared to other types of manure. For example, manure from beef cows has a nitrogen content of 1.1 percent. Poultry manure contains 2.8 percent nitrogen, while rabbit manure contains 2 percent. Pig manure contains only 0.4 percent nitrogen. Nutrient percentages vary slightly, depending on the animals’ diet and environmental conditions, but pig manure is usually one of the least beneficial manures for your plants.
Although pig manure isn’t recommended for your vegetable garden or compost pile, commercially composted pig manure is probably safe for other landscaping tasks. If you decide to use pig manure, keep it well away from the vegetable garden.
Gardeners have been using manure as a soil amendment for hundreds of years, and you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. It’s true that in most cases, people use manures, including pig manures, with no problem. However, a few populations are particularly vulnerable to illness from contaminated manure, including young children, pregnant women, the elderly, or those with compromised immune systems. If you have a household member that falls into this category, take extra care in using any kinds of manure.