The average 1000 pound horse will accumulate nearly 10 tons of manure and stall waste each year. Multiply that number by the amount of horses in your herd and that is your annual manure contribution. The unfortunate link between the nutrients in horse manure (Nitrogen and Phosphorus being the key components of concern) and our livelihood is the degradation of our clean and dwindling supply of water.
What is eutrophication? A condition in an aquatic ecosystem where high nutrient concentrations stimulate algae blooms, and these algae blooms create a barrier for the sunshine to reach aquatic life under the surface of the water leading to the demise of aquatic life and poor water quality.
With the exponential population growth expected to occur in Florida by 2030, natural resources such as water will become increasingly vital to protect through educational efforts and implementation of Best Management Practices. The eutrophication of our Central Florida water sources poses a great threat to the quality of life in this area and far beyond. Agriculture has a major responsibility to uphold in protecting our water with improved farm management practices and proper manure handling.
To mitigate nutrient runoff and leaching on horse farms:
- Do not stockpile your manure in an area susceptible to storm water runoff.
- Locating the pile away from nearby water sources and on an impervious surface is ideal.
- Providing a cover over the waste pile will prevent rain events from causing the pile to leach extra nutrients.
- Composting manure is a feasible way to stabilize nitrogen in manure, and produce a useable soil amendment that can be spread at an IFAS recommended rate on pastures.
- Avoid at all cost the dumping of manure in or around sinkholes on your property.
- Employ a licensed manure hauler to remove your manure stockpile if the volume exceeds an amount that can be managed properly.
For more information manure management, please visit: http://ufdcimages.uflib.ufl.edu/IR/00/00/45/41/00001/An04000.pdf https://floridadep.gov/sites/default/files/SmScaleHorseOps_1.pdf