Manure Management

Time was when you lived in the country the manure went out back behind the barn and no-one thought twice about it. Maybe a local farmer came by to pick it up for spreading on the fields. It just seemed to magically disappear , without much effort. That might still be the case if you only have a few horses, plenty of land , and no water quality issues. Now manure management is an increasing ly complex and expensive issue for larger equestrian operations, stables, race tracks, Polo facilities. 

It goes back to the old saying , Shavings in, Shavings out. Wood Shavings don’t disappear in the stall, or even in the compost pile for a while, they are only transferred. Raw manure itself is the perfect compost material, with a healthy Carbon/Nitrogen balance C:N. Wood is obviously heavy in Carbon and should be minimized, ie the less wood fiber in the compost pile, the better C:N ratio. When pellets are moistened in the stall it allows manure to clump only to a minimum surface area of wood, as opposed to and entire shaving. That’s why your piles of compost look more like shavings piles than manure. 

Carbon Balancing

 Have you ever had your local farmer, or compost recycler say your compost is too Carbon rich, and undesirable. That’s because a typical manure /shavings composed ends up close to 70 to 1 C:N and requires Nitrogen to balance it. In it’s natural state it would suck nutrients out of the soils, requiring Nitrogen to balance it. In contrast the manure/pellet compost with less wood and surface area is finished at a more desirable, and usable C:N of under 20, requiring no Nitrogen. The difference is you get a farm ready , marketable product instead of a waste, which you can sell instead of pay to dispose of.  

 

O2Compost is an environmental consulting firm located in Washington State.   We specialize in designing aerated compost systems and teaching the owners of these systems the Science and Art of Composting.