If you own a horse, you must know that horses excrete up to fifty pounds of manure every day. This amounts to approximately eight tons of manure yearly. If you do not dispose of this waste in a timely manner, you will end up with a giant heap of manure in your stable. Composting horse manure is the conventional method of managing it effectively. Therefore, in this article, we shall teach you how to compost horse manure.
Steps To Compost Horse Manure
1. Choose A Location
Choosing the appropriate location for composting is crucial for good results. The site for composting should have access to resources like sunlight and water. Most people prefer composting sites that are near wells or a direct water supply. In general, the location of the composting site should be such that you have easy access to it, and can monitor the progress regularly.
2. Binning Or Piling
Next, you need to decide whether you want to make the compost by the bin method or the pile method. While both these methods are successful in decomposing organic matter and producing compost, the bin method is more sophisticated and easy to manage. However, the traditional pile method, where you make five to six layers of organic matter and lay them in the open, can be useful if you need to compost horse manure in bulk.
To construct the bins for making horse compost, you can use ecology blocks, straw bales, pallets, treated lumber, etc. To make the compost, every bin should have at least two or three layers of horse manure.
To compost horse manure, each layer should be at least three cubic feet in size. If you live in a colder area, the size of each layer should be larger to trap sufficient heat.
3. Cover The Bin
Always cover the bin with a plastic sheet, roof, or tarp, so that if it rains, the water does not wash away the top layer of organic materials and valuable nutrients. Moreover, it is also necessary to prevent the compost from becoming soggy in winters, or extremely tight during summers.
If you live in a windy place, it is advised that you fix the tarp to the back of the compost bin. You can also use bungee cords to fix the tarp in place. If you do not have any of these resources, you can simply place detergent jugs filled with gravel on top of the plastic sheets.
4. Allow Fresh Air To Enter
The principle behind aerobic composting is that you should aerate the manure very well so that the fungi and bacteria get ample amounts of oxygen to grow and convert the organic material into compost. To maintain good aeration in the manure, it is necessary to turn the bin or pile continuously.
Some people make use of small tractors, while others do it manually. However, you must maintain consistency in turning the different layers of the manure. How often you turn the manure determines how quickly the manure gets ready. Some people use an Aerated Static Pile (ASP), which uses a fan instead of mechanical turning, to maintain adequate air supply within the compost layers.
The Aerated Static Pile systems can handle large volumes of manure. However, they require several months of expert handling until they start showing results. They are readily available in the market and come in various models ranging from $500 – $1000.
5. Dampen The Manure
To compost horse manure, all layers of the manure must remain wet throughout the process. In dry locations, water gets evaporated easily, and the manure becomes tight, which prevents it from converting into compost. In such areas, one should look for additional resources to supply water continuously. Otherwise, you have to ensure that the stall waste and horse manure that you put into the bin every day, is completely wet and drained.
6. Maintaining Temperature
The microbes growing inside the bin release heat that increases the temperature of the compost by 110 -160° F. According to experts, the temperature should at least rise to 130 degrees to ensure that all weeds and parasites inside the manure get killed. To check the temperature between the layers, you can use a compost thermometer that is readily available in plant nurseries and garden stores. If the temperature is higher than 130 degrees, it indicates that the bacteria and fungi are degrading the manure at a fast rate.
However, if the temperature is lower than 130 degrees, it means that you’re not turning the layers enough. The temperature should rise after turning them several times. Even after turning, if the temperature remains lower than 130 degrees, it indicates that your compost is in the curing phase.
7. Curing Phase
The curing phase, also known as the resting phase, starts when you see the compost settling down and stabilizing. It is because no turning is needed at this stage. You only need to protect the settled compost from weeds. You can do it by wrapping an additional plastic sheet above the bins. When you leave the settled compost and let it rest for a month, worms and small insects degrade it further and make it more fertile. The longer the resting phase of the compost, the lesser the chances of nutrients leaching out of it.
8. End Of Composting
After at least three months from the day you prepared the bin and made the layers, you can expect the horse manure to get converted into fully fertile compost. You can keep the mixture in a separate bin for curing it. The composting process ends when the compost develops a dirt-like dark color, a uniform texture, and crumbly consistency.
How to compost horse manure? – Conclusion
Compost is often called “black gold” because it improves the soil’s health and enhances the growth of plants. Composts are better than most of the organic fertilizers. If you have a pile of horse manure that you are unable to store or dispose of, then you should try and compost it. You can follow our guide to learn how to compost horse manure and turn your waste into black gold, too.