When it comes to growing healthy and abundant tomatoes, many gardeners swear by the benefits of using steer manure. This organic soil amendment is packed with essential nutrients and organic matter that can enhance tomato growth. But is steer manure really beneficial for tomatoes? Let’s explore the facts.

Key Takeaways:

  • Steer manure is a nutritious option for tomatoes, offering a boost of essential nutrients and organic matter.
  • It has a potency of 14-5-8, providing extra nitrates that can enhance tomato growth.
  • However, caution should be exercised as steer manure may contain more salt or weed seeds compared to other types of manure.
  • Amend the soil with steer manure 2 to 4 weeks before planting or transplanting tomatoes, aiming for a 1:2 ratio of manure mix to soil.
  • Water the site thoroughly after applying steer manure to ensure proper absorption.

The Difference Between Steer Manure and Other Manures

When it comes to choosing the right manure for your garden, it’s important to understand the differences between different types. In this section, we’ll explore the contrast between steer manure and other common manures like cow and chicken manure.

Steer Manure vs. Cow Manure

One of the main distinctions between steer manure and cow manure lies in their nutrient composition. Steer manure has a higher potency with a ratio of 14-5-8, while cow manure typically has a ratio of 10-4-8. This higher potency makes steer manure an excellent choice for plants that require extra nitrates. However, cow manure is generally regarded as a safer option for all-purpose soil amendment due to its balanced nutrient content.

Is Chicken Manure Better Than Steer Manure?

When comparing steer manure to chicken manure, it’s important to consider their nutrient profiles. Chicken manure contains approximately twice as much phosphates and three times as much nitrogen as steer manure. This makes chicken manure a superior option as a supplemental fertilizer additive. However, steer manure offers benefits in terms of soil texture and overall soil quality improvement, making it a valuable choice for long-term soil health.

Steer Manure Cow Manure Chicken Manure
Nitrogen (N) 14% 10% Approx. 30%
Phosphorus (P) 5% 4% Approx. 15%
Potassium (K) 8% 8% Approx. 40%

As shown in the table above, steer manure, cow manure, and chicken manure have distinct differences in their nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium content. These variations make each manure type suitable for specific garden needs.

It’s important to note that regardless of the type of manure chosen, it should be used in moderation and following recommended application rates to avoid over-fertilization. Conducting a soil test can help determine the specific nutrient needs of your garden and guide you in selecting the most appropriate manure for optimal plant growth.

How to Use Steer Manure for Tomatoes

Using steer manure can be an effective way to enhance the growth of tomatoes and improve the overall health of your plants. Here are some tips on how to properly use steer manure for tomatoes:

1. Preparing the soil

Prior to planting or transplanting tomatoes, it is recommended to amend the soil with well-rotted steer manure. A 2- to 4-inch layer of steer manure should be spread over the planting site and worked into the top 12 inches of soil. This will help improve soil structure, provide essential nutrients, and increase organic matter content.

2. Timing

Ideally, the steer manure should be added to the soil 2 to 4 weeks before planting tomatoes. This allows enough time for the organic matter to break down and release nutrients for the plants. It is important to note that applying steer manure directly to the planting hole may burn the roots of the tomato plants, so it is best to mix it into the soil beforehand.

3. Additional applications

After planting, you can continue to use steer manure throughout the growing season to provide a boost of nutrients. Apply a 1-inch layer of steer manure around the base of the plants when the fruits start to set. Gently cultivate the soil to incorporate the manure and water thoroughly afterward to help nutrients reach the roots.

Remember to always follow the instructions provided on the steer manure packaging and adjust the application rates based on the specific needs of your tomatoes. Monitor the plants closely for any signs of nutrient deficiencies or excessive salt buildup. With proper use, steer manure can contribute to healthy tomato growth and abundant harvests.

Benefits of Using Steer Manure for Tomatoes
Improves soil structure
Increases organic matter content
Enhances nutrient availability
Boosts overall plant health
Promotes larger, tastier tomatoes

Fermenting and Aging Steer Manure

Now that we know the benefits of using steer manure for tomatoes, it’s important to understand how to prepare it properly for safe and effective use. Fermenting and aging steer manure helps eliminate pathogens and reduce the risk of burns or damage to plants. Here are a few methods you can use:

Fermenting with Hot Composting: One effective method is hot composting. Start by creating a compost pile with a good mix of steer manure and other organic materials. To ensure safety, strive to achieve a core temperature of at least 135 degrees Fahrenheit for three consecutive days. After that, turn the pile to allow for even decomposition. This process helps reduce the nitrogen content, eliminates harmful pathogens, and minimizes salt levels in the manure.

Aging with Regular Composting: Another option is to incorporate steer manure into a regular composting mix. Make sure to add enough carbon-rich materials, such as leaves or straw, to balance the nitrogen levels. Allow the mixture to age for at least six months, turning it occasionally to promote decomposition. This aging process will help break down any remaining pathogens while preserving the nutrient content.

Drying Out: If you prefer a simpler method, you can also choose to dry out the steer manure over a period of six to twelve months. Spread it out in a well-ventilated area, allowing it to dry and naturally kill off most pathogens. This technique is especially useful if you want to maintain the nutrient content while ensuring safety.

Remember, regardless of the method you choose, it’s crucial to make sure that the steer manure is properly fermented, composted, or aged before using it on your tomatoes. This will help create a nutrient-rich and pathogen-free environment for your plants to thrive.


Is steer manure good for tomatoes?

Yes, steer manure is an excellent soil amendment that can enhance the growth of tomatoes.

What are the benefits of using steer manure for tomatoes?

Steer manure contains high amounts of organic matter and essential nutrients that promote healthy plant growth in tomatoes.

How should steer manure be used for tomatoes?

It is recommended to amend the soil with well-rotted steer manure 2 to 4 weeks before planting. Spread a 2- to 4-inch layer over the planting site and work it into the top 12 inches of soil.

What is the difference between steer manure and other manures?

Steer manure has a higher potency than cow manure, making it beneficial for plants in need of extra nitrates. Chicken manure, on the other hand, contains more phosphates and nitrogen.

How can I make steer manure safe for use?

Steer manure should be fermented or composted before use to reduce the risk of pathogens or infestation. This can be done through hot composting, regular composting and aging, or drying out the manure over time.

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