Will’s Wisdom: “Animal manure is a valuable currency”

Posted by Will Harris
Oct 5, 2021 7:00:00 AM

Mowing vs grazing (1)

I want to change the way that you think about animal manure.

Modern society has wrongly defamed animal manure in a way that I find to be incomprehensible. We literally now call it "animal waste". It ain't "waste". It is an essential transformation in Nature's carbon cycle.

How many "shit" jokes did we all snicker at as a kid? I'm tired of your shit. Get this shit out of the way. A shit storm is not a good thing. It never ends. Animal waste is shit, and shit is seldom referred to as a desired substance.

I don't think that this was the case, historically. Societies that were closer to the natural world recognized the value of animal waste. We lost this appreciation as technology replaced wisdom.

Plants grow in every ecosystem that I am familiar with. From tundra to tallgrass prairie, from desert to rainforest. Different plants grow in different ways, but for many reasons, it is often desirable to impact this plant growth.

There are 5 ways that we humans typically use to control the growth of plants:

  • Till (mechanical cultivation)
  • Spray herbicides
  • Fire
  • Mowing
  • Grazing

(You can read our blog about this here)

Mowing is one of the most commonly used methods in populated areas, and many now consider it environmentally acceptable. But to be clear, it is not the best case.

  • Only about 30% of mowed plant material becomes available to soil microbes and insects
  • While this contributes some to a healthy microbial ecosystem, this is only a small percentage of the carbon and other nutrients that are present in the plant matter
  • The other 70% is oxidized, unavailable to contribute to biological transformation

Mowed grass

Grazing, instead of mowing, similarly removes the excess plant material. However, grazing livestock turn excess plant material into manure.

Manure is plant material that has been fermented for a couple of days in a ruminant's fermentation chamber [their stomach]. Think about your ability to digest raw cabbage leaves, as opposed to digesting sauerkraut.

This animal waste is a very liquid form of carbon. I do not mean liquid as in a state of matter (solid, or liquid, or gas). I mean manure is liquid in the same way that the cash in your wallet is liquid. It can be easily exchanged.

For manure, over 70% of the carbon and other nutrients go to contribute to a healthy ecosystem.

Animal manure animal impact pasture
Y'all need to quit referring to shit as a bad thing. It is an essential step in the carbon cycle.

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