Cow dung is used in various places in traditional Indian culture. It is also known as gobar where go means cow and bar means boon. It shows how much traditional Indians respect this excrement. Even the Vedas, which condemn all forms of excrement as abominable, but the cow dung is so auspicious that it is used in many sacred ceremonies and worship. From the utility perspective, cow dung is the best forms of natural fertilizer. The application of cow dung for soil enrichment is an old agricultural practice which was lost after the introduction of chemical fertilizers. But now a days, with an increasing demand for organic farming, cow dung forms an important link in chemical free farming.
The cattle manure or cow dung is used in mostly small scale agriculture and garden. It is a popular practice which farmers use in many rural areas to make their soil fertile. This type of manure is not rich in nitrogen as compared to chemical fertilizers. The cattle manure is made up of digested grass and grain. It is high in organic materials and rich in nutrients. It contains approx 3% nitrogen, 2% phosphorus and 1% potassium. It is recommended to use this manure only after decomposition because it contains high level of ammonia and dangerous pathogens which can damage the plants.
The process of composting cow dung is not so complicated. First, collect the animal residue. The manure is mixed with organic substances like vegetable waste, garden debris, hay and straw, etc. In addition to this, small amount of lime or ash is also added to promote the carbon content of the manure. This mixed cow dung is then subjected to a pit of predefined dimensions and left for 2-3 weeks aerobically. The microorganisms or earthworms present in the manure eats it and converts it into manure. While composting the size of the pit which is used should be considered. If the size of the pit is very small then it would not be able to provide enough heat required for composting process. And on the other side if the size of pit is very big then it will not get enough air. Frequently tossing the pile is necessary.
The cattle manure which is derived through composting, adds significant amount of organic material to soil. Addition of this manure can improve health of soil and produce a healthy plant.
Another growing trend is that use of cow dung in producing bio gas. It is a cheap alternative source of energy that can used for cooking and even electricity. Researchers at Hewlett Packard Co.’s have found ways to power their data servers by using cow manure. So now, it’s not just about milk and food, but cows can even help us power our laptops and iPods.