Fresh horse it too hot?

williamcartwrightJune 3, 2007

I have a ggod sourse of horse manure that I've been working into beds that will be planted out later. But I'm wondering if their is too much nitrogen to use it straight on the lawn?

The horses are fed on alfalfa mostly and not "grazing" so weed seeds should not be an issue. I have St Augustine grass. Been "organic" for a decade, but only started with soybean meal and alfalfa pellets this year (thanks to reading this forum) and this has had an excellent effect!

Just not sure about using strait horse manure. Temps are rising here...and the St Augustine is really waking up. Thanks for any input.


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deerslayer(Z5 NE IL KBG)

In general, manures should be composted before application to lawns. In addition to containing a high percentage of quick release nitrogen, fresh manure attracts flies, creates an unpleasant odor, results in angry neighbors, etc.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 12:02PM
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How long does it typically take before horse manure is no longer too "hot" to apply to a garden or to the base of apple trees?

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 2:17PM
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Billl(z7 nc)

Definitely compost it first. Besides being too "hot", horse manure also contains lots of viable seeds. Unlike cows, horses do not break down most whole seeds. A stay in a hot compost pile will take care of both problems.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 2:19PM
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Thanks for the input. Confirms what I thought...that horse manure "ought" to be composted. The woman who if now my friendly supplier (free) mentioned she uses it straight on her lawn. And her lawn....I must say...looks I wondered.

Atypically, the horses making "my" manure don't graze. They are "city" horses. Bad for them, but good for me in terms of weed seeds. They get a mainly alfalfa diet.

I haven't seen too many post on the value of manures vs "grains" like corn, alfalfa, and soy bean...or, more properly, as a compliments to "grains". I've generally fertilized using fish emulsion, but with a new found sourse of manure I wonder if I ought to get composting for future lawn use?

This is my first year with soy bean and alfalfa applications. No corn, as corn meal is proving to be a very illusive commidity here in Los Angeles.

Cheers all,

    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 3:27PM
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deerslayer(Z5 NE IL KBG)

Composted manures are great for increasing the amount of organic material in your soil but they are not very good fertilizers. Below is an N-P-K breakdown for common manures.


    Bookmark   June 5, 2007 at 4:36PM
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Deerslayer, I'm a bit perplexed. In your first post you warn fresh manure has a "high percentage of quick release nitrogen." And in the second you suggest horse manure is a poor nitrogen source. Or am I missing something?

Is it high in nitrogen when fresh...but low after being composted?

Anyway, I've enjoyed reading our posts for quite some time. Thanks for all your input on this forum.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 2:13AM
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deerslayer(Z5 NE IL KBG)

"Is it high in nitrogen when fresh...but low after being composted?"

Correct; fresh manures are very high in soluble nitrogen (aka quick release N). The sources of the soluble nitrogen break down during the composting process.

If you are interested in learning more about fresh and composted manures, a great deal of information is contained in this Gardening Forum FAQ.

Manure FAQ


    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 4:09AM
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Deerslayer, thank you much for clearing that up and for the link to the FAQ. Most informative. Fortunately I have a compost pile that can absorb the horse manure just fine.


    Bookmark   June 7, 2007 at 11:32PM
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Billl(z7 nc)

All compost and manure is "low" in nitrogen - at least when you compare it to synthetic fertilizer or even grains. The catch is the application rates. A thin layer of compost (1/4-1/3 inch) weighs about 1,500 lbs per 1000 sq ft. With a synthetic fertilizer, you might put out 3 lbs per 1k. With an organic, you might put up to 20 lbs per 1k. Even a very "low" nitrogen source adds up when you put 75-500 times as much product out.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2007 at 3:21PM
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Bill, even though the horses are eating baled alfalfa, you need to remember the stuff in the bale is only as good as what was in the field. Horses eat the weeds in a bale of feed as well as the intended feed source. So, unless you go to the field before it was harvested or inspect the bale before it was consumed, you really donÂt know what weed seeds you might be introducing to your lawn. Weeds like to grow in alfalfa and grass fields just like they like to grow in our lawns.


    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 8:21AM
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deerslayer(Z5 NE IL KBG)

Composted manure breaks down extremely slowly. Even with high application rates, you'll probably need to supplement it with a quicker release organic fertilizer like SBM. After five years or so of annual compost application, you may be able to eliminate the supplemental nitrogen applications. The amount of time is dependant on the particular type of grass.

If your lawn is low in organic matter, compost is a great way to jump start an organic program. However, once your organic program is underway, other organic materials, such as SBM, is much easier to transport and apply.

The quote below if from the University of Colorado.

"The nitrogen in composted manure will be primarily in stable organic forms and first year release rates will be significantly less than with fresh manure. For example, in composted dairy manure, only 5-20% of the nitrogen will be available the first year. In soils low in organic content, this can lead to a nitrogen deficiency unless an additional quick release nitrogen source is supplemented."


    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 12:46PM
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