Horse Manure Disposal
Manure disposal when not properly managed, can cause soil, air and water pollution due to the harmful microbial build up in the soil.
Manure disposal has become one of the more difficult problems for small horse farms.
There is always the question of where to put it. More often than not, it's put into piles for days, weeks and even longer.
- You can hire someone to haul it away, but that is expensive and not always reliable.
- You can spread it by hand, but that's a back breaking job.
- Invariably the pile just stays there creating odor and attracting flies, which are a nuisance and a health threat to your horses.
- Then you have the additional problem of fly control.
- It has been shown that flies will travel several hundred feet between your barn and the manure pile.
Spreading Manure in Pasture
The BEST remedy for all these problems is to disperse the manure immediately after stall cleaning and to do it in a way that does not attract flies.
If the manure is broken up into small pieces and spread out on the pasture or lawn, it will decompose very quickly, especially on a hot, sunny day. Then it is no longer attractive to flies.
Plus, you receive the added benefit of providing a fertilizer and soil conditioner for your pasture.
But if you do not have enough pasture then you have to compost in a different way.
Composting methods for Horse Manure
- Manure and bedding need to be gathered into heaps of ideally up to 2.5 meters wide and 2 meters high, although the actual heap size will be influenced by the number of horses kept.
- The site should be level, or have a slight slope towards the back to reduce the likelihood of any liquid escaping.
- A covering of black plastic or tarp helps by excluding light, but allows air and a small amount of water to pass.
- If other green waste is available, such as grass cuttings (but not woody materials), this can be incorporated and improves the process.
- Soil can also be included, up to 10% of the total volume, which stabilizes the decomposition process.
- The heap will need to be damp for decomposition to occur- some watering may be necessary when the heap is being built - but should not be wet and there should never be run-off.
- The pile will heat up rapidly, reduce in volume and then cool after perhaps three weeks, varying with the time of year.
- At this point the heap should be turned, to allow more air into the pile and to mix the ingredients.
- If it is dry, it may need watering to ensure that it is evenly damp.
- The covered heap can now stand for a couple of months and undergo a cooler process of decomposition.
- It can be helpful if at this stage the manure is in contact with the ground, which allows in the worms and micro-organisms that bring about this transformation, so in a dry spring or in summer, the heap could be moved to an appropriate field location when it is turned.
- This must be at least 10 meters from a watercourse and 50 meters from a well, spring or pond.
- There is again a reduction in volume, though less than before. This stage may take 6-8 weeks in summer, or 3-4 months over winter.
- The manure should be altered in texture, smell and color
- If the bedding is poorly broken down, another turning will be necessary.
Manure Disposal Pit : General Considerations
Manure disposal and the Advantages of a Covered Manure Pit
Protection from rainfall which can lead to excessive runoff
- The manure is hidden and away from the barn and horses
- The odor and flies can be controlled if properly maintained
- Able to put manure when snow is on the ground and unable to spread
Manure Disposal and Disadvantages of Covered Manure Pit
Will eventually fill up and have to be hauled out
- Not as easily accessible as an open pit
-Quality of The Composted Manure
Quality of the compost will vary according to the bedding.
- Straw is best
- Peat moss is excellent
- Wood shavings chips or sawdust use up far more of the nitrogen in the manure during decomposition thereby being poorer in nutrients
Using peat moss or straw as bedding will ensure easier manure disposal via farmers who find that these kind of bedding more valuable.
What to do With Composted Manure
Now that you have fabulous and a much coveted fertilizer - What do you do with it?
If you have suitable bagging equipment, more city people will be prone to purchase it.But if you cannot bag the compost, it will have to be sold loose. This can be achieved in a number of ways:
- On a 'do-it-yourself' basis, where individual people load bags or trailers;
- In bulk to landscape gardeners and parks maintenance departments and contractors. In these cases the purchaser will usually be able to cart the compost themselves, although they may expect you to have a bucket tractor or similar for loading their wagons;
- Delivered to allotment gardens
- garden centers and landscape contractors.
If you use bedding other than wood shavings, such as straw or peat moss approach a plant nursery, farms, or sell it in bags by the side of the road along with your strawberries and tomatoes
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