An 8 step process for developing a horse manure management plan: Part 2 - Manure storage

Need to develop a horse manure management plan? Follow this 8 article series that discusses the components of developing a horse manure management plan.

All photos by Thomas Guthrie, MSU Extension.
All photos by Thomas Guthrie, MSU Extension.

Article 2 of 8, Developing a Horse Manure Management Plan – Manure Storage

In article 1 of this Developing a Horse Manure Management Plan series, we discussed manure volume produced and the collection of horse manure. After calculating how much manure is being produced by your horses and determining how, when, and where manure is being collected on the farm, the next step is figuring out the storage plan for manure. A few very important factors when considering manure storage is how the storage location may impact daily task efficiency while ensuring appropriate environmental stewardship practices along with a practical approach that is economically feasible. 

Points to consider for manure storage include:

  • Location(s) – manure storage should be easily and conveniently accessible to the area where most of the manure is produced. Site location of manure storage is extremely important. Manure management storage location practices should take labor and environmental stewardship into account. Environmental stewardship considerations may include: distances to any surface water source, distance to wells, how far from property lines and location to neighboring residences. Labor considerations may include: time efficiency and equipment needed or used.          

If you plan to build or have an existing manure storage structure:

  • Size of manure storage structure – Dimensions and volume carrying capacity can be figured in cubic feet (ft3) capacity = length x width x height. Remember from the table in article 1 that a 1,100 lb. horse can produce 0.910 ft3 of manure per day.  Realistically, consider how manure will be managed and/or removed (every month, every six months, or every year), then build a structure to the appropriate or even excess volume carrying capacity.    
  • Manure storage base - A concrete or asphalt base is ideal. In addition, sides on the structure as well as a small curb on the entrance of the structure are advantageous for keeping manure contained and preventing any runoff from the pile.

If you plan to temporarily stockpile manure at your horse farm:

  • Temporary stockpiling manure on the ground is an acceptable practice with appropriate management

Guthrie Pt. 2 (1)

1. Rotating locations and periodic complete removal of manure from the location annually or more frequently 

2. This practice should be protective of the environment and mindful of neighbors

3. Records documenting timing of removal and location used

4. Seeding of the previous location after removal to allow for vegetation to take up the nutrients that have accumulated in the soil.

5. Stockpile locations should remain vegetated without stockpiled manure for a minimum of three years before reusing the site. 

6. The manure stockpile should be in a location that does not allow for runoff to flow onto neighboring property or into surface waters.

7. Manure stockpiles need to be kept at least 50 feet away from property lines or 150 feet away from non-farm home

Other ideas for manure storage:

  • Large dumpsters – this type of manure storage that includes removal can be expensive. However, this may be a viable option for some, especially during the winter months of the year. If considering this option, you would need a location where driveway accessibility is appropriate for the truck to pick up and deliver dumpsters during inclement times of the year.

Stay tuned! In the next article of this Developing a Horse Manure Management Plan series - Part 3., Manure Treatment such as composting horse manure will be discussed.    

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