For those who are currently composting their manure, this page outlines ways you can improve your practices. For those who are not currently composting but would like to get started, visit our manure composting page. Within this section there is also information on composting over winter, common mistakes associated with manure management, and alternative bedding options. For any other inquiries contact one of our regional Manure Mavens.
Improving current manure management practices
Doing your part to ensure that your horses’ “waste” does not threaten human health or our environment doesn’t always mean that you have to completely change your current manure management practices. Sometimes one small change can make all the difference. Below are some tips to help you improve your current manure management practices.
Cover your pile
In the Lower Mainland, an uncovered manure pile, on average, has 1 meter of rainfall on it each year. As the water runs through the pile it picks up significant amounts of organic materials, nitrate-nitrogen, ammonia and other organic compounds generating a pollutant capable of contaminating surface and groundwater. By covering your pile, even with a tarp, you will be helping to ensure the health of your community and environment.
Evaluate the location of your stored manure. Consider whether your manure is located close to a drainage ditch, stream, or small tributary. Moving your pile away from watercourses on your property helps ensure the health of aquatic life such as salmon. Even if your watercourse does not contain fish, it may be a significant upstream source of food for fish. For more information on compost system local visit the how to compost page.
Manage your pile
Manure piles need to be managed regularly in order to have them compost successfully. Successful composting requires appropriate conditions such as adequate oxygen. Piles left to sit for great lengths of time may not compost properly as the organisms needed to break down the materials will not be able to survive unless conditions are appropriate. Managing your pile by providing it with oxygen and correct moisture content can help you ensure you are creating good quality compost. Managed piles also have less odour and fewer insects hanging around them than unmanaged piles. For more information on how to better manage your manure, visit the managing your compost section of the how to compost page or see the troubleshooting guide.
Keep in mind that it is much better to spread composted manure than raw manure. Raw manure also has a higher likelihood of negatively affecting the surrounding environment. Not only does the use of composted manure have less environmental risks associated with it, but it is better for your pastures and horses. The nutrients in composted manure are much more readily available to your grasses than those in raw manure, and are stabilized in a manner that allows for the slow-release of nutrients. If spread, the nutrients in raw manure can immobilize rendering them unavailable for crops.Spreading composted manure can also ensure better animal health considering compost piles reach temperatures that kill most parasites whereas raw manure can have high populations of parasites that can be ingested by your horses. The high temperature within a compost pile also kills weed seeds, which may be present in manure and can result in weed growth if raw manure is used.
Composted manure is even easier to spread when compared to raw manure due to its lower moisture content. Because it is a drier product, composted manure does not clump the same way raw manure does, and it is lighter to haul and move around.
According to the Code of Practice for Agricultural Environmental Management, manure should not be spread on frozen ground or during time when soil is saturated. Generally, the spreading of manure should not occur from October to April.
For more information visit these other related pages: