Best Management Practices for Horse Manure Composting on Small Farms

Krogmann, U., Westendorf, M., Rogers, B.F.

Compost from horse farms can be used as a soil amendment providing organic matter and some nutrients. Composting manure on small horse farms can be part of an overall effort to better manage manure and reduce non-point sources of pollution (nitrogen, phosphorus, and pathogens) to drainage basins in New Jersey. Composting produces a stable, volume reduced, and storable product with greatly reduced pathogen levels while conserving some of the nutrients. The compost can be used on- or off-farm when and where the nutrients are needed. On-farm composting is only a solution when done correctly. If you do not have time and interest to compost, then other methods of disposal might be a better solution. This fact sheet provides Best Management Practices (BMPs) for composting horse manure on small horse farms in New Jersey. These practices include information about horse manure production and characteristics, preparation of the compost mix, the composting operation and siting, monitoring and testing of manure and compost, environmental issues, compost use, and costs. These practices can be part of the nutrient management plan which may be required for all horse farms in New Jersey in the future. This fact sheet is for a reader who is somewhat familiar with the basics of composting. Useful sources for the basics of on-farm composting are Rynk (1992) and Dougherty (1999).