Managing Manure: The Role of Riparian Buffers

Equestrians have become aware of the potential environmental impacts that may be caused by their horses and are actively seeking solutions to minimize these problems. A typical 1,000 pound horse may produce 0.75 cubic feet per day of solid waste plus urine, therefore appropriate manure management practices must be implemented at equestrian facilities in order to control runoff containing wastes and thereby protect water quality in nearby streams. * A number of management practices to store, compost and recycle horse manure to help reduce its environmental impact have been developed and are discussed in other fact sheets and conservation practice manuals for horses (see references at the end of this fact sheet). Riparian Buffers- strips of dense, vegetative cover which include grasses, soft stemmed plants (forbs), shrubs and trees growing in streamside areas- are one of the most effective tools to help assure clean runoff from horse facilities. Buffers can be considered a last line of defense against the natural downslope flow of runoff down streambanks before that runoff reaches the creek. As with all horse keeping practices, buffers should be integrated with other proven pollution control and management practices and incorporated into a facility’s conservation plan to maximize their effectiveness in protecting overall water quality. Contact your local RCD office for conservation planning assistance.