Composting is the process by which organic matter is degraded by microorganisms to produce a dark, earthy-smelling material.
These micro-organisms require specific conditions in order to successfully compost organic material which can be monitored and managed easily. Composting is an excellent option when dealing with manure in the horse industry as well as with other livestock waste and can have many benefits, including turning your animals’ waste into a resource.
Contrary to popular belief, horse manure compost can be an excellent source of nutrients for your gardens, pastures, and hay fields if managed properly. Manure compost can also be used in gardens, mixed with potting soil, and mulched around trees and shrubs and on lawns. Horse manure compost is an excellent soil amendment as it not only provides a natural source of nitrogen for plants, it also has other benefits including:
- Improving soil structure
- Improving drainage
- Improving soil moisture retention during hot, dry months
- Increasing earthworm populations
- Increasing soil aeration
- Reducing soil compaction
- Increasing available macro and micro nutrients
Dealing with the dirty secret
Many industry members recognize the problems that manure mismanagement can cause. However, many have treated it as the “dirty little secret” of the equine industry. Meanwhile, heaps of manure accumulate over time, making it seem more and more impossible to deal with. Just forgetting about it or avoiding it will only make it worse. Now is the time to act and the solution is simple.
There are a number of ways you can start composting on your property, and within a budget. Composting does not require a complex or expensive system. Though a sealed site with concrete is strongly recommended to ensure compliance with waste management regulations, there are many other ways to turn out a quality compost product while doing your best not to harm the environment.
These resources can help you get started and maintain your manure composting:
- Why to compost
- How to compost
- Improve your practices
- Manure Maven network
- Additional resources
For more information or guidance, contact one of our regional Manure Mavens.
Good luck and happy composting!