Composting Horse Manure for Bedding Reuse

Waste management is a significant expense for any farm operation with costs for fees, government regulations, and fuel prices continually rising. Equestrian farms want to keep manure management low in cost, odor, and bacterial spread. Composting horse manure is an excellent solution:

  1. Horse manure and straw (bedding) are ideal materials for creating a high-quality compost product,
  2. Composting sterilizes the manure while leaving it nutrient-rich and odorless 
  3. The time-efficient process results in a salable product that can be spread in stables and on agricultural lands. 
Video describing the process of composting horse manure using the Earth FlowTM Composting System. Video: Green Mountain Technologies.

WOOD SHAVINGS AND MANURE ARE AN IDEAL FEEDSTOCK COMBINATION
First, the combination of nitrogen-rich horse manure and carbon-rich straw are an ideal recipe for creating a high-value compost product. Horses, unlike cows, are not ruminants, and thus much of the nutrients from the hay remains present in the manure. This includes approximately 70-80% of the nitrogen (N), 60-85% of the phosphorus (P), and 80-90% of the potassium (K) from their feed. These nutrients mix with urea and ammonia from the urine and become excellent energy sources for bacteria. This bacteria results in a well-heated compost which is vital to adequate compost production. Alongside the bacterial process in homogenization is the mixing of materials. Using the mixing technology from Earth Flow Compost system, the mixture can fully homogenize, creating an ideal compost matrix.

HIGH HEAT RESULTS IN PATHOGEN-FREE, ODORLESS YET NUTRIENT-RICH FINAL PRODUCT
The homogenized horse manure and straw easily reach temperatures between 135º and 150º F, which destroys harmful pathogens, fly larvae, and weeds making it safe to distribute in stables or on uneven grasslands. Pathogens commonly found in horse manure include Clostridium tetani,Cryptosporidium parvum, Giardia duodenalis, Campylobacter spp, Salmonella spp., pathogenic strains of E. coli, and Yersinia spp. However, Atwill 2001 determined that there were insignificant levels of E. coli 0157:H7 and Salmonella in adult horse guts and composted manure showed no E. coli 0157:H7 after 24 hours in pile residence. All of Green Mountain Technologies clients have tested compost after running it through the Earth Flow and found results well below pathogen EPA standards.

TIME-EFFICIENT AND ECONOMICALLY BENEFICIAL

 Benefits of manure composting with the Earth Flow system versus a Bin system:

  1. Reduces labor to turn compost
  2. Extremely efficient in compost production
  3. Uniform temperature and odor control

Instead of loading and hauling manure off-site to local farmers which can cost up to $25 per yard, manure can be loaded into the Earth Flow on-site, and the automated auger does the turning. After the compost moves through the Earth Flow, the compost is chocolatey brown, odorless, and significantly lighter than non-composted horse manure. The complete Earth Flow process takes 10-14 days in the temperature controlled in-vessel system, while a Bin system takes 90-180 days. 

Cost analysis shows  a price of $5 per cubic yard, allowing clients to reach a net income of $1 million in 5 years for compost sales. In reality, net income estimates are much greater because compost is generally priced at $20-30 per cubic yard. Return On Investment (ROI) for an Earth Flow system by   most barn owners is completed in about two years.

Overall, composting horse manure is an excellent strategy for equine manure management. The combination of the nutrient properties of manure and straw creates a pathogen-free, odorless, high quality product. The Earth Flow Compost system is time-efficient and economically beneficial to any operation. 

Looking to turn manure into a sellable product? Contact us today!

1  Herbert, Stephen, et al. “Plant Nutrients from Manure.” Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, UMass Extension Crops, Dairy, Livestock, Equine, 13 Apr. 2020, ag.umass.edu/crops-dairy-livestock-equine/fact-sheets/plant-nutrients-from-manure.
2 Quinn, Adda. “Does Horse Manure Pose a Significant Risk to Human Health?” Bayequest.com, Oct. 2001, www.bayequest.com/static/pdf/manure.pdf.
3  Quinn, Adda. “Does Horse Manure Pose a Significant Risk to Human Health?” Bayequest.com, Oct. 2001, www.bayequest.com/static/pdf/manure.pdf.
4  Bogardus, Mollie. The Financial Benefits of Composting Stable Waste for the Equine IndustryLivestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Community, Green Mountain Technologies, 5 Mar. 2019, lpelc.org/the-financial-benefits-of-composting-stable-waste-for-the-equine-industry/.
5 https://lpelc.org/the-financial-benefits-of-composting-stable-waste-for-the-equine-industry/
6  Bogardus, Mollie. The Financial Benefits of Composting Stable Waste for the Equine IndustryLivestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Community, Green Mountain Technologies, 5 Mar. 2019, lpelc.org/the-financial-benefits-of-composting-stable-waste-for-the-equine-industry/.

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Green Mountain Technologies

Green Mountain Technologies

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At Green Mountain Technologies, it’s all about compost. Since 1992, we’ve been dedicated to helping forward-thinking organizations reduce their environmental footprint, save money and produce high quality compost.