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close this bookSoil and Water Conservation (SWC) Technologies and Agroforestry Systems (IIRR, 1992, 171 p.)
close this folderOrganic fertilizer sources:
View the document1. Basket Composting
View the document2. Fertilizer from Livestock and Farm Wastes
View the document3. Liquid Fertilizer from Leguminous Trees
View the document4. Use of Green Manures

1. Basket Composting

Basket composting


One of the first efforts of the Mindanao Baptist Rural Life Center (MBRLC) in Bansalan, Davao del Sur. was to develop a gardening system which would provide vegetables throughout the year. It is called Food Always In The Home (FAITH) gardening. The FAITH Garden basically consists of three sections planted to:

· short-term vegetables (two to four months), e.g., tomato, sweet pepper, pechay, etc.
· medium-term vegetables (six to nine months), e.g., eggplant, winged beans, etc.
· Iong-term vegetables (throughout the year), e.g., kangkong, alugbati, etc.

The central feature of the garden is a series of raised garden beds in which bamboo baskets are set for the production of the so-called "basket compost".


Basket composting is the process by which your decomposable home garbage, garden and farm waste and leguminous leaves like ipil-ipil are allowed to rot in baskets which are half-buried.

Basket composting has been practiced at the MBRLC for many years and is proven to give the following benefits:

· You can directly use plant nutrients derived from rotting materials without waiting for the usual three to four-month period in the traditional method of composting.

· Your basket compost holds the composting materials in place; therefore, it will minimize nutrient depletion by runoff.

· Stray animals (like goats and pigs) and fowls (such as chickens and ducks) are prevented from scattering the compost materials.

· Your home and its surroundings will become cleaner because garbage and wastes are collected and are put inside the basket composts.

· It serves as reservoir and collector of the much needed moisture and nutrients for your plants.

· The organic matter in the compost strengthens the soil aggregate, making it resistant to heavy rainfall, thus lessening erosion.

· You can produce more nutritious vegetables at less cost.

Anyone is free to modify or improve the method of basket composting, but this is the general procedure in doing it:

1. Prepare the materials.

· long bamboo strips (two to three cm width)

· bamboo stakes (at least 30 cm length)

· home organic garbage, farm and garden wastes, leaves of ipil-ipil, kakawate, rensoni and/or Flemingia (if available)

· dried manure (goat, duck, chicken, horse, and/or carabao

Leaves and legumes

2. Prepare garden plots.

· Clean garden site.
· Save weeds and grasses for composting materials
· Prepare garden plot thoroughly.

3. Make holes.

· Dig holes along the center of the plots at least 12 cm in depth and 30 cm diameter.
· Space holes 1 m apart.

People working

4. Make the baskets.

· Drive seven stakes around the holes; uneven number of stakes makes perfect brace for weaving.

· Weave the long strips of bamboo around the stakes to form a basket. Without bamboo strips, closely space the stakes (about 1 cm apart).

Half-bury the baskets in the holes. The basket serves as erosion control and as container that prevents the chicken and other fowls from scattering the compost.


5. Put organic wastes.

· Place the rotting garbage and manure into the basket first.

· Fill to the brim with other organic wastes. Fresh manure can be used.

· Place the undecomposed mater composed materials like ipil-ipil leaves or any recommended leguminous leaves, grasses and weeds next Cover the organic wastes with a thin layer of soil.


6. Plant seeds or seedlings.

· If the materials placed at the bottom part of the basket are almost decomposed (within 2-3 days), you can start planting seeds or seedlings. Plant them six to eight inches around the basket.

· If the composting materials placed in the baskets are green leaves (called 'green manure'), plant the seeds or seedlings two to three weeks later. This will give enough time to start decomposing.

· If green leaves of ipil-ipil are used, put five kilograms of the leaves to the basket at the start. Add two kilos of leaves every two weeks.

7. Water the seedlings.

· Water the newly transplanted seedlings. Later on, when they can grow on their own, just water the basket.

· Water only at the center of the basket, instead of watering the plants. The lower part of the basket is cool, moist and has abundant nutrients for crops. Later on, the roots will grow into the basket.


8. Incorporate decomposed materials.

After harvesting your vegetables and your compost are used up, remove the decomposed materials and incorporate them into the soil while cultivating.

Add new composting materials to the basket for the next plants. Avoid using diseased plants for composing. Use the basket while still intact.

Note: Basket composting is compatible with and can be integrated with the bio-intensive gardening technology.

Source: MBRLC Editorial Staff (1990). How to Make FAITH (Food Always in the Home) Garden in your Horneyard.


2. Fertilizer from Livestock and Farm Wastes


Dried rice straw/rice stubbles, grass clippings, coffee hulls, sawdust, etc. These materials help prevent nutrient loss. They contain residual plant food of their own, adding to the overall nutrient value of the compost.

Feeding animals


1. Chop or shred the materials (except coffee hulls and sawdust) to make them easier to spread and later on easier to decompose.

Cutting plants

2. Spread a six-inch layer of litter bedding over the floor space. Allow manure and urine to accumulate.

6 inches of litter bedding

3. Three to four days after the bedding materials are fully soaked with urine, mix them so as to incorporate the manure. Remove the bedding and store it in a pit or a pile fully covered to conserve the nutrients. Collected bedding material can also be used in preparing liquid fertilizer. The compost is ready for use in one and a half months or earlier.

Collection and mixing of bedding materials

Liquid fertilizer preparation

4. Provide fresh bedding materials as in #2.


· A feedlot cable with an initial weight of about 150 kg would produce a total of 2.23 tons of fresh manure over a fattening period of 180 days.

· On the average, a cattle or a carabao excretes fresh manure equivalent to about 7.5 percent of its body weight.

· Manure - By wise management, animal manure can return to the soil 70 percent of N. 75 percent of P and 80 percent of K.

· Urine - Excess nitrogen from the digested protein is excreted in the urine as urea in cattle and goats.

· Fifty percent of the value of the waste is contained in the urine.

· Urine contains 2/3 of the N and 4/5 of the K discharged by an animal.

· Elements in urine are more quickly available because they are in solution.

· Urine is also an especially good activator for converting crop residues to humus.


The amounts of fresh excrement produced by farm animals are subject to wide variations, being governed by the kind of animal, its age, the amounts of food it eats, its activity and other factors. The amount produced annually per 1,000 pounds of live weight is given in the following table:



























2. 7


















On the average, a ton of cow manure has NPK values equivalent to 100 pounds of 2 12-3-9 chemical fertilizer. Similarly, horse manure averages 14-5-11, sheep and goat manure 19-7-20, hog manure 10-7-8 and chicken manure about 20-16-9. In addition, this manure will supply organic matter and trace elements.


P.S. Faylon and M.R. Deriquito. Livestock Manure as Fertilizer: Waste Not, Want Not. J.F. Rodale. The Complete Book of Compost. The Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening. pp. 714-716. Nyle C. Brady. The Nature and Properties of Soils. 8th Edition (New York: MacMillan Publishing Co. 1974).

3. Liquid Fertilizer from Leguminous Trees

Green leaves and water

Liquid fertilizer supplements can be made from leaves of leguminous trees and water. (Traditionally, only fresh manure has been used.) Liquid fertilizers are used in small gardens to boost up the growth of young seedlings or as a remedy for plants suffering from nutrient deficiencies.
















1. Glincidia septum






2. Leucaena leucocephala compare


35 5




Cow manure






Note: Very significant readings for iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc were also noticed.

· You may test leaves of other leguminous trees in your area. If leguminous leaves are not available, any green plant material may be used (e.g., Cassia siamea, Cassia spectabilis).

· Keep the drum always covered If a drum is not available, then a pit lined with clay or plastic sheeting or even a large earthen pot may be used.

· Replace the leaves with fresh ones when the liquid fertilizer has been exhausted.

· It is possible to raise a reasonable vegetable plot in well-dug soil (12" - 18" deep at least), using liquid fertilizer alone.

· Liquid fertilizer is a critical component of a bio intensive garden in the tropics, especially in the rainy season when leaching is common.

4. Use of Green Manures

The term green manure generally refers to the use of fresh organic materials such as leaves, twigs and small stems which are used as a soil enrichment material. The green material does not only provide the soil with needed macro elements (such as Nitrogen, Phosporous and Potassium), but trace elements as well (such as magnesium, manganese, cobalt, and iron). In addition' the green manure: (1) provides organic matter which helps improve soil structure, increases the soil's water holding capacity; (2) provides a replacement for commercial fertilizers; and, (3) helps shade weeds. Some green manures can also be grown with food crops to save land area and labor.


Many plants which belong to the Legume Family are commonly used as green manures. These include cover crops such as Kudzu (Pueraria phaseoloides), "Hetero" (Desmodium heterophylla), Centro (Centrosema pubescens), Siratro (Macnaptilium atropurpureum); upright legumes such as: Ipil-ipil (Leucaena diversifolia), Rensoni (Desmodium rensonil), Flemingia (Flemingia macrophylla), Madre de cacao (Gliricidia septum), Rostrata (Sesbania rostrata) and Rice bean (Vigna umbellata). Non-legumes include grasses such as Napier (Pennisetum purpureum) and Guinea grass (Panicum maximum).

Essentially, any material may be used as long as it is fresh and not very woody in form.


There are two standard methods in using green manure. These are (1) growing the green manure crop in the crop field; and, (2) importing the green manure in fresh or processed form to the crop field.

1. Growing the green manure crop in the field. This method involves growing a cover crop, usually a legume such as spineless mimosa (Mimosa invisa) or Hetero (Desmodium heterophylla), in a field and then plowing the plant in the soil after a few months' growth. The cover crop is planted for one season, plowed under and allowed to decompose. The next crop is usually a main food crop, such as corn. The green manures should be allowed to rot three to four weeks before planting the following food crop. (See Selection of Cover Crops and Batao in the Upland Cropping System in pages 149-157 for other examples).

A second method involves planting food crops that have a short growing season and leaves which do not shade the ground too much with the green manure crop. Corn and peanuts are good examples. Since the green manure crop needs some light, the food crops should be spaced further apart but seeds should be planted closer together in a row.

A third method involves the planting of hedgerows of upright legumes such as Rensoni (Desmodium rensonii) Flemingia (Flemingia congesta) and Madre de cacao (Gliricidia septum) in the field along the contour (e.g., SALT, alley cropping). These plants are periodically harvested and the leaves and small branches placed on the soil surface between the hedgerows as a mulch. The leaves are allowed to decompose. Crops may or may not already be planted in the field. In some cases, the farmer may physically incorporate the green leaves into the soil by using a hoe. If this is done, there should be a waiting period of about one month before the field crop is planted in the field. (See Simple/Double Selection of Hedgerow Species for more examples, pages 65-69).

It is highly recommended that two different species (one with big leaves and another with small leaves, e.g., Flemingia and Rensoni) should be planted in the same hedgerow along contours. Flemingia has leaves which decompose slowly while the Rensoni leaves are soft and decompose quickly.

Legumes trees

2. Green manures imported in the field. Green manures need not be grown right in the crop field. Farmers can plant them around their field as fences or in vacant areas. The branches are pruned two to three times a year and the prunings are carried to the field where they are either incorporated into the soil or used as a mulch.

Drum and sack

3. Special methods of using green manure:

Green manure tea.

This method is described in detail as a separate topic in another section. (See Liquid Fertilizer from Leguminous Trees, pages 136-137). In general, it involves taking legume or other fresh leaves and placing them in a jute sack or the like. The sack is soaked in water for 10 days. The tea is used to water high-value crops (like sweet potato, eggplant, cabbage) while the partially decomposed leaves from the tea bag can be used as a mulch or compost material.


This method involves using green legume leaves to activate a compost pile since the fresh green leaves have a supply of nitrogen. When the composting process is finished, the material is used as a fertilizer by placing it in a hole and covering it with soil. A seedling is planted on top. This method is generally used for high-valued crops such as vegetables.


1. Non-legumes such as wild sunflowers are used as a green manure either by incorporating the leaves and stems directly in the soil or allowing them to partially dry before incorporation. Wild sunflower is also a phosphorous trap, as it accumulates the element as it grows.

2. Cogon and other grasses or weeds can be cut before the powering stage and placed in crop fields as mulch.

3. Green manures can be applied to furrows or between the crop rows rather than as a blanket covering. This method concentrates the nutrients and the roots of the row crop, such as corn will pick up the slow released nutrients from the furrow. The weed growth in the furrow or inter-row area will also be reduced. For minimum tillage systems, placing the green manure in furrows in between rows allows easier access to the crop rows for planting and weeding.

Green manure applied between crop rows

4. farmers frequently air-dry green leaves before using them as a crop fertilizer. This is fequently done with leaves such as ipil-ipil. The drying process releases Nitrogen from the leaves but other nutrient elements such as phosphorous, potassium and trace elements remain in the dry leaf. This process prevents accidental fertilizer bum from fresh leaves.

5 Experience has shown there are several kinds of leaves which are not good for green manuring because they contain substances which are detrimental to the plants and the soil. These are Pine needles, Eucalyptus sp. leaves and Gmelina arborea leaves.