Goat manure an ‘effective fertilizer’

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Sunday, April 20, 2014


"MY FIRST love is farming," said Benjamin Lao, a multi-awarded farmer from Bansalan, Davao del Sur. His parents were both farmers and he grew up in a place where people were planting rice, corn, and several other crops.

The Lao family owns about 40 hectares of land in barangay Eman. In 1998, his mother divided the land equally among the eight children. “I am the fifth but I was unanimously chosen to assign which portion of the land should be given to each sibling,” he said.

For some unknown reason, he selected the land that was so infertile that cogon grass would not even grow on it. To transform the barren land, he planted various nitrogen fixing shrubs -- Flemingia macrophylla, Indigofera anil, and Desmodium rensonii -- all over his farm.

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Lao cuts the shrubs every now and uses the leaves as forage for his goats. Legumes, he found out, “contain as high as 16 percent crude protein and “therefore provides good nourishment for my goats.”

In the beginning, he had only seven goats. But he found out there was money in goats, so he opted to increase the number. Today, he has about 170 goats in his farm. “Buyers just come to my farm and select the goats they want to buy,” he said.

Lao uses the goat manure as organic fertilizer. According to the Ohio State University Extension, goat manure is drier than cow manure or horse manure. It has less odor and is easier to work with and spread. It also composts more quickly. More importantly, goat manure is higher in nitrogen than horse and cow manures.

To those who grow vegetables in their own gardens, goat manure makes an excellent soil conditioner. For one, it improves the soil texture so it uses water more efficiently. For another, it allows more oxygen to reach the plants’ roots.

In his farm, you won’t see his farm workers using chemical pesticides. “I had a tragic experience with chemical pesticides when I was still a teenager while cultivating rice in our farm located at the neighboring barangay,” he revealed.

Instead, Lao recommends using Eman (named after the barangay), which stands for “epektibo, mura, at natural” (effective, cheap, and natural). "”This is a concoction composed of fresh goats’ manure, kakawate, makabuhay, and hot pepper,” he informed. “These are soaked together for 48 hours and after that the concoction is ready for application.”

According to him, Eman is effective in repelling plant pests and diseases. In addition, it is also a good course of foliar fertilizer.

“We are committed to help preserve our environment. We want to teach Filipino farmers the right way of farming through natural method and that is by not using commercial fertilizer or pesticides,” Lao said.

But the question remains: is goat manure really a good pesticide? Rey E. Andres, in an article published in Agriculture, reported that “rice and tomato plants sprayed with liquid fertilizer made from fresh goat manure can effectively reduce the damaged caused by golden apple snails, tomato fruit worms, and other common pests attacking high value commercial crops.”

Andres based his report from the result of a study conducted by Dr. Aida D. Solsoloy, which was presented during the regional symposium on research and development highlights are San Fernando City in La Union. The lady scientist from Batac, Ilocos Norte gave goat manure a brand new name: bio-organic fertilizer and pesticide.

The rice and tomatoes applied with the liquid fertilizer were not only healthier; Dr. Solsoloy also found them not to be adversely affected by the damages caused by golden apple snails and fruit worms. “As a result, she gained a substantial profit from the harvest of both crops because no additional expenses were incurred on chemical fertilizers and pesticides,” Andres wrote. “Another thing that amazed her was that the liquid fertilizer did not emit foul odor, thus, it did not attract other harmful insects, microbes and harmful fungi in the farm.”

While doing her research, Dr. Solsoloy discovered that goat manure contains 1.5 percent of nitrogen (N), 1.2 percent of potassium (P), and 0.5 percent of phosphorus (K). “Goat manure contains more NPK than any other animal manure such as those in cow, deer, horse, pig, and chicken,” the study showed.

But that’s not all. Dr. Solsoloy also found out that goat manure contains a special type of bacteria that seemed to be the main cause of why the pests were controlled. “She calls them cocktail of bacteria, which are main organisms present in goat manure,” Andres reported. “In fact, they comprise 30 percent of the total volume of fresh manure excreted by the animal.”

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on April 21, 2014.

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