Have you ever heard or seen someone using horse manure to fertilize their gardens? The chances are fifty-fifty, you might have or you have not. The world is progressing by leaps and bounds, why would one want to go the extra mile to use an old fashioned way of fertilizing the garden.
The use of horse manure was common back in the 19th and early 20th century but the invention, catchy advertisement, and easy availability of chemical fertilizers put it under the shade probably because using horse manure as a fertilizer is a tough job.
Even in 2021, the horse manure is still somewhere helping the gardeners bringing life to the lifeless plants. Before moving ahead, I would love to mention here that once one finds out how beneficial horse manure is for the soil and plants he would find it irreplaceable. I can bet on that.
Horse manure improves the fertility of the soil by providing all the necessary nutrients in an organic less damaging way. The effects of using this rewarding manure last longer than the chemical fertilizers and probably these two are the main reasons why it was so popular among the 90’s gardeners.
Before jumping into discussing in detail, let’s answer the most Googled question, it’s basic but it doesn’t deserve ignorance.
Horse manure for garden
Is Horse Manure Good for Garden? Yes, Horse manure is good, no, even better than commercial made fertilizers. Horse manure gives the soil the nutrients it needs to give birth to a healthier and richer garden.
Nutrients in horse manure
What nutrients horse manure have? The answer to this question depends on what a horse eats in a day. If the horse is consuming hay, grains, and a few vegetables then it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the horse manure contains a remarkable quantity of nitrogen, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, and some micronutrients.
According to research by Wiley, It’s a balanced formula, no high phosphorus or potassium content.
Some plants can not bear high potassium or phosphorus content, balanced or nitrogen-rich formulas are the gardeners’ favourite. The horse manure contains a huge amount of nitrogen (that is important for food processing, chlorophyll creation, and overall plant growth) with not-so-high phosphorus and potassium content which is why it was and it still has been an advanced gardener go-to option.
Even a new gardener knows nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium are the main ingredients of chemical fertilizers. Sometimes the chemical fertilizers are just a combination of these three but the horse manure is an all-in-one solution. So, how can it be not enough?
How does horse manure work in garden?
Horse manure works the same way as the chemical and organic fertilizers do. The organic matter is added to the soil and it begins supplying the much-needed nutrients. However, the nutrients supply is a bit slower than the chemical-based fertilizers and it needs as much time as organic fertilizers take to reward the soil.
Using horse manure incorrectly can bring more damage to the plants than anything else as it burns down the entire plant within a matter of days. So, to reap the benefits of horse manure one needs to know how to use or compost it correctly.
To convert it into a soil beneficial substance, it needs to be composited
Googling how to compost the horse manure will land you in several articles that are dedicated to the method of composting the horse manure. It tells the importance of composting the horse manure before using it as a fertilizer. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science explained well about horse manure bed and material.
How to compost the horse manure ?
Composting horse manure is not rocket science or something that requires a special skill or tools. Composting is, however, a lengthy process requiring three to four months(sometimes even more). To compost the horse manure,
- Choose the well-drained soil spot and throw the horse waste matter there.
- Keep it covered with a tarp or plastic sheet to not let it get wasted away by rain.
- Try to keep the air supply intact as the bacteria and fungi need oxygen to do their job.
- Keep it damp, as damp as if you squeeze it out, two or three drops of moisture drips down from your hands.
- Monitor the heat, it should be between 110 to 160F, 130F is ideal.
- Cover it securely, the longer time you let it take the more stable and beneficial it will turn.
- The horse manure is ready(after a few months). Take it out and add it to the soil.
Once the horse manure comes in a ready-to-use form no hard and fast rule is left to be followed. It can be used anytime to treat the soil but remember! Excessive use is bad even if something looks and feels harmless. Within a few weeks, you would notice a greener and healthier garden.
Facts about horse manure use in Gardens
- One horse produces nine tons of manure a year.
- If the horse manure is not handled carefully it gives a resting shoulder to ammonia fumes, bacteria, mold, and parasites to make the environment unhealthy.
- Horse manure is called by funny names; horse buns, horse pucky, road apples, horse chips, and horse hooey.
- It is less smelly than cats and dog faeces.
- Horse manure is often used in brick making.
- Fresh or non-composted manure burns the plants.
How long before you can use fresh horse manure?
If you left manure for decomposing, it can take three to four months for decomposing. However, if manure contains wood chips or hard material, it can go over a year to decompose completely.
Is horse manure safe for vegetable gardens?
Fresh manure can burn even fruit trees. It should be kept for a long time and apply after keeping under the sun. You can decompose for safe use. Horse manure is very beneficial for vegetable gardens.
The horse manure is beneficial to the garden as it contains a good amount of nitrogen and a balanced quantity of phosphorus and potassium to give the plants a healthier boost. The horse manure works for the soil only when it is used and composted correctly.
To compost, the horse’s waste matter, keep it under a roof on well-drained soil, keep it moist and covered with an air circulation intact, wrap it with plastic and leave it for at least three to four months, add it to the soil in moderation. The horse manure will bring a noticeable change in the garden within a few weeks.
Lastly, I find it absolutely necessary to confess that this article is solely based on my knowledge and experience. Human knowledge is limited so it can be faulty, research a little more and compare the information provided on this topic before you make a move.
Hi, I am Waqar and active in the horse world since 2012. I have MSc (Hons) in Agriculture from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad. I love to solve equine health care issues and note down in the form of research papers.
I have written hundreds of equine health care, accessories, names, and history-related blogs. My equine related work is watering a lot of horse-related magazines and blogs.