I recently moved to a 1 acre lot in Surprise, AZ to get out onto some land, enjoy nature more and be able to do some permaculture. I have met many people with horses that are paying to have their manure hauled away. My soil currently is completely bare. My question is how can I utilize a free and abundant resource like horse manure that I now have access to? Can I just spread it over the ground and use it as a mulch and source of fertilizer to improve the soil? Or do I need to add a lot of carbon material to it like straw or wood chips? Nothing is growing there right now so im not worried about burning any plants, but will the manure decompose over the winter? Will it stink to high heaven if I dont add more carbon to have a better C:N ratio? I could also try getting straw or wood chips and attempting some hot compost piles? Or are there any other uses you can think of that im missing here? Thanks
I compost on a large scale and because of availability horse manure is one of the main ingredients. It's really not that great on it's own but can be a good base. The C:N ratio of course is highly variable so every batch needs to be treated differently. The biggest advantage of horse poo is just simply volume and the fact that it's there. Almost any other kind of manure I use is superior, but it's never enough. One caveat is that many horses are treated with de-wormers and I have been told that the medicine will kill earthworms. I have no way to verify what kind of levels to expect or even if this is a bunch of hooey.
Typically the horse poo I get is way overboard on nitrogen and yes, will stink like hell. I just make sure I have lots of carbon on hand when I get a new load and mix it in. You can -- actually, you really should -- use a carbon shell on your compost piles, which will reduce moisture and nitrogen loss. I cut straw but you can use anything woody.
There have been loads that were the opposite -- too much C, so you just have to pay attention. Like most people I just go by temperature and smell and turn the pile or adjust composition accordingly. Yes, compost will compost in the winter. Depends on climate, rains, etc.
I have in the past used raw horse manure as the base for various beds or HK beds, but I would never attempt to plant in raw horse poo right away -- if you put a 6-8" topping of compost/soil with the raw horse poo underneath it works out pretty well if there is enough air in your beds. This was my method for a passive solargreenhouse -- the composting poo gives you a nice boost in temps.
I too have land in need of soil building and access to free horse poops.
I was planning on building beds full of horse poop and wood planting them with comfrey, willow,corn,and other plants that make nitrogen into biomass in a hurry.
After things in the beds rot down I would spill them out onto my rocky soil and then refill them.
Not sure if I can use mostly horse poop in a wicking bed or sub irrigated container,but at least one fellow has has with good results.
The manure wil stink like a pile of horse shit until you spread it as a layer of a few inches. As soon as the aerobic bacteria take over (a day or two) the stink will get replaced with a nice earthy fragrance. A lot of plants should do good in it if you let it sit like that over the winter.
Rocket Mass Heater Plans: Annex 6" L-shaped Bench by Ernie and Erica