Making Compost with Cow Dung – A Full Guide

Making compost with cow dung

Cow dung has been used for ages in Indian agriculture to nourish the soil and help in plant growth. Cow dung is packed with high levels of minerals and nutrients and is one of the best natural fertilizers to use in organic gardening. If you have an organic garden and want to grow vegetables without the use of chemicals and pesticides, then you must use cow dung manure to nourish your soil. Cow manure contains three of the most important nutrients that plants need for their healthy growth. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. While not all cow dung contains the same proportion of these minerals, cow dung has about 3% nitrogen, 2% phosphorus, and 1% potassium and the best part is that the beneficial bacteria in cow dung converts these essential nutrients into forms that are easily absorbed by roots. These all nutrients are slowly infused into the soil allowing the plants to enjoy the benefits over longer periods. In the case of fresh cow manure, the moisture content is high allowing for better aeration of plant roots.

A step by step guide to making compost manure with cow dung

Vegetable plants suffer from diseases caused by several kinds of pathogens such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, nematodes, and mycoplasma. Among these, fungi are mainly considered as the most aggressive pathogens causing qualitative and quantitative damage. Fungal pathogens like Fusarium oxysporum, Rhizoctonia solani, and Sclerotiumrolfsii, are associated with damping-off and wilting of Methi and Bhindi (Okra). The plant diseases have a significant role in agriculture in terms of reduction of crop yield and economy. One of the widely used strategies to control plant diseases is the use of chemical agents. Though, overuse and abuse of these chemical agents resulted in certain hazardous effects.

A guide to making compost manure with cow dung.
A guide to making compost manure with cow dung.

Cow manure is packed with quality major and minor nutrients required for plant growth that is NPK – nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium and trace elements. Roughly the NPK value of decomposed cow dung is about NPK – 3:2:1. The use of cow dung or cattle manure, in the garden is a popular practice in many rural areas and this type of manure is not as rich in nitrogen as many other types and the high ammonia levels can burn plants when the fresh manure is directly applied. Composted cow manure, on the other hand, can provide numerous advantages to the garden.

Cow Dung Compost has balanced NPK content such as Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and potassium which is essential for plant growth. Moreover, it eliminates harmful ammonia gas and pathogens, as well as weed seeds. The composted cow dung manure adds generous amounts of organic matter to the soil and the moisture-holding capacity of the soil can also be promoted by mixing this compost into the soil. This allows sprinkling of water less frequently because the plant roots can use the additional water and nutrients from the manure whenever needed. The advantage of using cow dung manure is that it increases the breakup of compacted soils through aeration in the soil. It tends to convert nutrients into easily accessible forms so they can be slowly released without burning tender plant roots.

Benefits Cow manure compost

  • Composting cow manure has many benefits. In addition to eliminating harmful ammonia gas and pathogens like E. coli, as well as weed seeds, composted cow manure will add generous amounts of organic matter to the soil. By mixing this compost into the soil, you can improve soil moisture-holding capacity. This allows you to water less frequently, as the roots can use the additional nutrients when needed. Also, it will improve aeration, helping to break up compacted soils. Composting cow manure produces about a third fewer greenhouse gases, making it environmentally friendly.
  • Cow manure contains the three main plant nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Fresh cow manure with bedding or litter has a sizable water content about 86 percent; so, it is beneficial because it helps to keep soil evenly moist throughout the growing season.
  • Cow manure contains organic matter not included in chemical fertilizers, and it contributes to improving the soil’s structure and water-retaining capacity. Manure can improve declining organic soil structure and components.
  • Surface application of cow dung manure contributes to the improved structure of the soil and it helps to reduce erosion from water run-off similar to that of crops. Chemical fertilizers contain no organic soil amendments and do nothing to improve the soil structure.

How much time it takes cow manure to compost?

The process of composting and stabilizing manure usually takes around 6 months. First, building a compost pile and allowing it to heat, can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks. The temperature inside the compost pile must remain stable at 54 to 65°C for at least 21 days to kill potential pathogens and weed seeds. Once the cow manure is composted, transfer it to a curing bin. In the curing bin, it continues to decompose for another 2 to 6 months.

Cost of cow dung compost

The approximate cost of cow dung compost is Rs 7,500/Ton and the packaging size is 40 kgs.

Composting cow manure

Composted cow manure fertilizer makes an excellent growing medium for plants. When turned into compost and fed to plants, cow manure becomes a nutrient-rich fertilizer. It can be mixed into the soil and used as a top dressing. Most composting bins or piles are located within easy reach of the home garden. Heavy manures, like that of cows, must be mixed with lighter materials, such as straw or hay, in addition to the usual organic substances from vegetable matter, and garden debris, etc. Small amounts of lime or ash could also be added. And, an important consideration when composting cow manure is the size of your or pile. If it’s too small, it won’t provide enough heat, which is essential for the composting procedure. Too big, however, and the pile could not get enough air. So, frequently turning the pile is necessary. Composted cow manure adds significant amounts of organic material to the soil. With the addition of cow manure fertilizer, you can improve the overall health of the soil and produce healthy, vigorous plants.

Composted or Fully Decomposed Cow dung – If you drop the cow dung into the composting process, the final product you get is the best and safe organic fertilizer for plants. When you compost cow manure, you get several advantages like the harmful ammonia is eliminated, weed seeds in the soil are destroyed and it makes your soil well-draining and well-aerated plus its moisture-holding capacity is greatly improved. The problem is it’s a bit expensive especially from a reliable company. This type of cow dung is the safe and best option for plants and can be applied by mixing with potting soil in about 20 to 30 percent proportion or it can be applied once in a month on the topsoil after raking or tilling the soil.

How to make cow dung compost

To deal with cow dung and realize effective utilization, the composting process will be a good idea. During the composting process, the microorganisms are responsible for breaking down organic matters into compost. At the same time, the heat released from microorganism activity will kill pathogens, weed seeds, and eggs. The steps include how to make cow dung compost are raw material preparation (manage water content of cow dung, add straw or sawdust to adjust C/N ratio), make a compost pile, and turn cow dung. After composting, you can use cow dung directly or deeply procedure it to make commercial organic fertilizer.

The composting process will create good fertilizer or topdressing without the odor, salt concentration, or toxic ammonia levels found in fresh dung. The manure must be mixed with high carbon material for rapid aerobic composting. Choose a location where you can build a 3- to the 4-foot square pile and have room to turn it. Then, spread a 3-inch layer of dry organic material on the square area. Spread about 2 inches of manure on top of it. Continue layering until the pile is about 4 feet tall. Water the pile as you build it so it is slightly damp all the way through and cover with a layer of soil. Turn the pile every 3 days and keep the pile moist but not soggy. Check the temperature of the center of the pile when you turn it. Use the compost when it stops heating in the center and is dark brown and has an earthy smell.

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Preparation of materials

Composting cow dung includes the preparation of raw materials and makes compost. During the composting process, the preparations are the same. Besides cow dung, you can add some straw, rice hull, sawdust to adjust water content, C/N ratio, and also improve air permeability. However, you want to know the straw and rice hull should be crushed into small pieces. Because not crushed straw will make larger gaps in the compost pile, which will slow the fermentation process. If you want to compost farm wastes from cattle, both the cattle manure and bedding are obtainable.

Three ways for composting cow dung

1. Cow dung windrow composting – You can stack cow dung in long rows and you can design the height, width, and length of compost pile according to space. The height is 0.8-1.m, or you can make a compost pile according to the model of the compost turner that you purchase.

2. Composting cow dung in fermentation grooves – You need to build some grooves with at least 3 walls, where you can place cow dung. The height of cow dung can be 0.8m, 1.0m,1.2m, and 1.5m. Compared with windrow composting, groove type composting could occupy more space. But its capacity is larger than that of the windrow composting process.

3. Making cow dung compost in the fermentation tank – Fermentation tank belongs to aerobic composting in a closed fermentation environment, and then it owns a higher automatic level. After putting cow dung into it, it can automatically finish the composting method.

In case if you miss this: How to Make Money from an Organic Compost.


  1. Hi Mr Reddy,

    Please let us know, how Buffalo dung is different from Cow dung? Can we use Buffalo dung for vermicompost ?


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