Horses may be responsible for spreading plants, many of which are considered weeds, over long distances, according to the findings of an Australian research project.
Many manure-borne seeds germinated well after passing through the digestive tract of a horse, and being deposited with manure meant that the seeds had a head start in growth because of the nutrients provided in the feces. Also, manure is often deposited in areas where the soil surface has been disturbed by the passage of horses, allowing seeds to take root in loose dirt.
Catherine Pickering, an associate professor at Griffith University in Queensland, led a study to identify the germination capabilities of various weed seeds found in horse manure. After reviewing literature on germination of manure-dispersed seeds in Europe, North America, Africa, Central America, and Australia, Pickering found that a high number of plants can be spread in this way.
Results of the research showed that from a list of over 2,700 nonnative plants growing in Australia, seeds from many were able to grow from horse manure. Some of the plants were designated as noxious weeds, meaning that they were considered harmful to humans or animals in some way. The spread of some types of plants might or might not be a problem, depending on the particular characteristics and the location where they were introduced.
Trail riding is a popular equestrian activity, and owners often transport their horses for long distances to engage in this recreational pastime. Pickering warned that legislators should consider the possible threat to agricultural activities and the environmental impact before opening parks and other public lands for equestrian use. Though some plants spread in horse manure are not inherently harmful, Pickering’s research found that 99% of the reviewed species were listed as weeds in at least one global location.
Horse manure is a good source of nutrients and a popular addition to many home gardens. Composting horse manure can help your compost pile become super charged. Let’s look at how to use horse manure as fertilizer and in the compost pile.
Composting horse manure is not any different than traditional composting methods. This process does not require any special tools or structures. In fact, small amounts of horse manure can be easily composted using a shovel or pitchfork.
Is Horse Manure Good Fertilizer?
While it may be more nutritional, horse manure may also contain more weed seeds. For this reason, it is usually better to use composted horse manure in the garden. The heat produced from composting can effectively kill most of these seeds as well as any harmful bacteria that may be present.
There is no set ideal time for how long to compost horse manure, but typically it takes two to three months if done properly. You are better off looking at the compost itself to see if it is ready. The horse manure compost will look like soil and will have lost its “manure” smell when ready.
Readily available in many rural areas or through reputable suppliers, horse manure makes a suitable and inexpensive fertilizer for plants. Horse manure can give new plants a jump start while providing essential nutrients for continual growth. It contains adequate amounts of organic matter and can be applied in various ways. It’s also slightly higher in nutritional value than cow or steer manure.