I have recently acquired a few acres of land to live and sustain on... There is a llama who lives on the property who has quite a pile of manure, two actually. It's so nice when animals always go in the same place, huh? After research online it seems that llama manure is a great soil amendment. I am wondering if anyone has any experience with it, if there are any specific concerns I should keep in mind before I use it, and what is the best way to distribute the manure into the soil (or use it as a mulch layer).
I will be planting in about 2 months, maybe sooner depending on temperature. There is an area here that was once a green house, where someone dug about 2.5 feet deep and filled with soil. The area is 10' x 20'. The area has been unused for about a few years. The soil looks really really great. I was just going to add the manure and organic compost. I also found some peat moss that is still in packages on the property. It is probably 2 or 3 years old. Should I use it? Someone also left bags of organic bat guano and kelp meal, which are probably about 2 years old (kept in a barn.) Is it still okay to use these things? I figure I should use them and not waste them. I only have the property for the next year. Thanks y'all.
Welcome to permies Adrienne, pardon the slow reply!
Llama poo's not something I'm familiar with, so aside from making general statements about generally being wary of fresh manure, I won't comment.
Adrienne Beck wrote:I also found some peat moss[...]organic bat guano and kelp meal
More things I haven't used, but since they're lying around, it'd be as shame to waste them
I'd be careful about the peat unless you know the ph is fairly high, as it's pretty acidic.
Bat guano, well it's aged, so it should be ok directly on the garden. Kelp meal: go for it!
Whatever you do, I recommend a nice thick layer of mulch on top.
Hi, Adrienne. Since you don't know absolutely everything about the health and exposures of the llama....what about taking the 3 days or so required to run the manure through the hot composting process? After 84 hours (that's three and a half days) of 130 degree temps, all pathogens are wiped out anyway. Your only investments are a $20 compost thermometer, a source of water, and a little back muscle turning and watering the compost twice a day to keep it going hot. Presumably there is somewhere on your property some carbonaceous (dried leaves, straw, shredded paper, half composted twigs from your preexisting compost pile, etc etc etc) material that you can use to balance the highly nitrogenous llama manure? If it's fairly fresh you would need a larger amount of carbonaceous stuff. If it's been aging for a year or something, then not so much. I know, I know those are vague quantities. But the thermometer will tell you everything you need to know. As far as watering the pile, you are going for something as moist as a wrung out sponge.
We do not have any llamas; but we did get three alpacas for exactly that purpose. (people around here thing we are crazy; they only buy livestock in mass amounts for breeding and shearing.) We have found that it does not break down very quickly; and, their urine (they pee on their poo) is quite strong. While ours have remained parasite free, they are known to have issues with several types and can often be loaded. As with any waste compost, you want it completely composted if it is going on or around your veggies and herbs. You may want to search info on alpacas for additional advise. Llamas can interbreed with alpacas; so if they are that closely related most information on alpacas should apply.
We have 2 llamas, and have friends with many more. Our llama owning friends have always told me that llama manure is one of the only manures that is safe to use directly on the garden without composting first, with no danger of nitrogen burning.
In fact, one of them has quite a business selling bagged fresh "Llama Doo."
That being said, it never hurts to compost first anyway, but it seems like it may not be as necessary as with other types of dung.
Location: (Zone 7-8/Elv. 350) Powhatan, VA (Sloped Forests & Meadow)
We have heard the same as you. Yet, when I have tried to use our alpacas direct (non-veggies) it does not break down. (I am moving some things right now I planted last summer and the poo is still pellets.) Also, their pee is burning the areas they used as their poo pile and taking a long time to have regrowth after removal. Do your friends have any advice for us on this? Would love to use my guys poo more effectively!
Also, in reference to the original poster, would your friends be concerned about the worm load on an unknown history of an animal? Just curious myself, as people out here are bordering on paranoia about alpaca worm loads, evidenced or not.
We have been using our llama poo for many years. We use it directly to the soils and as a topping mulch. Sometimes I use peat moss over the llama "beans" if it near the house and there is a strong odor.
I use some in the compost pile as a "green", we have lots of hay for the carbon and need "green" for the compost. You'll lose some of the nutrients during the composting if you have "pile" composting like us.
The fresh beans that are saturated with urine make an excellent "tea" for watering.
Sometimes the "beans" will take a few years to completely break down, but they will. You can soak them in a five gallon bucket for a week or so and they'll break down faster. Our chickens scratch the pile and turn them, so most of the material is on it's way to breakdown.
It is the "best". Although I have seen the vegetation at the poo piles get damaged (for a short period), I have never "burnt" anything in the garden with the usage of beans. We have four "rescue" llamas and would use the poo from many more if I had access to it.
I would use the old bat guano and peatmoss - it never goes bad (the peat bogs are real old and when you "mine" guano you take the new stuff and the material that is many years old), it just changes it's moisture content. Sometimes the stuff gets real hard and you need to add moisture to it to break it easily.
For the past year and a half, I have used fresh llama manure when making up soil and as a top dressing, with excellent results... The most impressive one being the three comfrey cuttings that were each planted into a 5 gallon bucket of straight llama manure and then covered with an inch of soil. Those three plants are do waaay better than the other 12 that were put directly into the ground
I've used Alpaca manure and it works great. One thing to watch: has that llama eaten anything other than un-sprayed pasture? Long-term herbicides have screwed up a lot of gardens. Toxins get sprayed on hay, which is fed to the animals... then the herbicides pass through into the manure and can remain active for YEARS. I had almost my whole garden wiped out last year by contaminated cow manure. If they're buying in feed, it's almost impossible to know if that stuff was sprayed or not - and composting doesn't break it down.
If that's not a problem, then boy... use that stuff! I'd jump at the chance.