In the European Union (EU-27) and UK, animal farming generated annually more than 1.4 billion tonnes of manure during the period 2016–2019. Of this, more than 90% is directly re-applied to soils as organic fertiliser. We reviewed the impact of manure from farmed animals on soil biodiversity by considering factors that determine the effects of manure and vice versa. In this review, we explored the impact of manure from farmed animals on soil biodiversity by considering factors that determine the effects of manure and vice versa. This review explored the relationship between manure and soil biodiversity by considering 407 published papers and relevant legislative provisions. In addition, we evaluated whether benefits and risks on soil biodiversity are considered in manure management.
This review found that coupling manure management with soil biodiversity can mitigate present and future environmental risks. Our analyses showed that manure quality is more important to soil biodiversity than manure quantity and therefore, agricultural practices that protect and promote soil biodiversity with the application of appropriate, high-quality manure or biostimulant preparations based on manure, could accelerate the move towards more sustainable food production systems. Soil biodiversity needs to be appropriately factored in when assessing manure amendments to provide better guidelines on the use of manure and to reduce costs and environmental risks.
We provide access to the shape file with Annual manure production (million tonnes) in the European Union and UK and distribution according to main animal types (Period: 2016–2019) (Fig.1 of the publication). In addition, we distribute the compiled database of all reviewed articles for the purpose of this research.
The use of manure boosts biological activity, abundance and diversity by providing nutrients for soil life. Taking soil biodiversity into account in manure management offers a win-win solution for enhancing agricultural productivity, reducing farmers’ costs and enabling positive environmental effects (e.g. increasing soil organic carbon and mitigating contamination risks). At the same time, heavy metals, hormones and antibiotics sometimes present in manure can harm soil organisms. Potential risks should be addressed by avoiding the application of manure containing such contaminant.
Beneficial and harmful manure practices for soil biodiversity (on the left) result in sustainable manure management: