MAJOR MANURE PILES
If asked to name our biggest challenge in horsekeeping, most of us would probably have the same answer: that ever-expanding manure pile. “The typical 1,000-pound horse produces almost 40 pounds of manure per day,” says Greene. “If your horse spends any time in a stall, you probably add bedding, which can add an additional 15 to 20 pounds of material to the equation.” It’s easy to see why the manure pile looms so large.
And that manure pile is more than just an eyesore. If you don’t compost, manure can harbor parasites like strongyles and roundworms. In the warm weather months, it will attract flies and other pests. When it rains, contaminants from your manure pile will leach into ground and surface waters.
What you can do: Compost it. If you’ve ever dug into the middle of the manure pile either with your tractor or a shovel, you’ll notice the interior is a lot like moist dirt. That’s compost, which can be used as fertilizer or to amend soil in general. But if you’ve avoided composting because it seems like a lot of trouble, take another look at the basics. It’s easier than you think.
“Certain things must happen for manure and stall waste to go through the active composting process,” says Greene. “In the most basic sense, there must be adequate aeration, moisture and the right temperatures to allow microbes to convert static piles into finished compost.” For composting, make your manure pile about twice as long at its base as it is high. That helps to keep the pile at the right temperature---between 110 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit. You can buy a compost thermometer at most garden stores or nurseries. The high temperatures kill off bad bacteria and pathogens as well as break down