Well composted horse manure for MTS? - Page 2 - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #16 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-17-2012, 04:40 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DogFish View Post
It has to do with a study that found wood shavings compete with organic materiel for N, causing the the wood shaving / horse manure to be less effective for agriculture use than other compost sources.
Good point -- this is the reason it is recommended that fresh wood shavings and bark and pine needles not be used as a soil builder. That was something they pounded into our heads in college (my minor was in horticulture). The decomposition of the wood (especially pine and other evergreens and conifers) requires a huge amount of nitrogen to carry out the process, thus pulling it straight out of the soil and depriving the other processes of their needed nitrogen. We had separate bins that we composted conifer wood in. Shavings from wood such as aspen were used sparingly in the main composters.
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post #17 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-17-2012, 09:07 PM
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I have heard more about worm castings being acceptable for aquarium use, but mostly not larger animal waste.

Yes, there is a big difference between stall cleanings and manure.

A horse in a stall may have any of many different materials as bedding. (around here, rice hulls and pine shavings are most common)
He urinates in the bedding. He poops on it. He spills water and food onto it.
Then the wet bedding, poop and wasted food (hay) are tossed in a pile to compost.
The high ammonia content (urine) plus the high carbon content (bedding) make this blend compost really fast. Turning it with a tractor, you might get garden ready compost in just a couple of weeks. I think I would compost it longer for possible aquarium use.

Straight manure, perhaps with a little bedding stuck to it, or maybe collected from runs with no bedding will have almost no urine, so the ammonia content is lower. Not zero, though. Horse digestion is not very efficient, and if they are fed high protein foods (alfalfa, grains) there will be plenty of ammonia to blend with the high carbon (dried grass) part of the manure.
Dried grass is considered a high nitrogen material. Horse manure in my experience is a high nitrogen product when composted and will yield really great leaf growth but can and will impede flowering. It needs to be moderated with a high carbon source such as blood meal or leaves for any real benefit. One other problem with horse manure is stinging nettle. Not sure if it would grow in a tank but does great in gardens. And it does sting.

http://www.composting101.com/c-n-ratio.html

Whatever anyone does never, ever add walnut to compost or mulch.

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post #18 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-17-2012, 09:14 PM Thread Starter
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Whatever anyone does never, ever add walnut to compost or mulch.
Or use for bedding for ANY kind of animal. About twenty years ago there was a huge rash of seemingly idiopathic horse deaths here. Everyone was freaking out, as it couldn't be isolated to a disease and none of the various groups of horses had had contact with one another. Apparently a local wood shop was selling their shavings to several stables and had done a large run of furniture/cabinetry in black walnut and it had summarily poisoned A LOT of horses. Really sad and tragic.
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post #19 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-17-2012, 11:10 PM
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The whole idea behind mineralizing is to convert the organic nitrogen to inorganic nitrogen (nitrates). I don't see why horse manure couldn't be mineralized successfully the same as any other organic compost. When it doesn't have a smell when damp it should be totally mineralized. And, the wash cycles should wash away any soluble salts from the urine.

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post #20 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-18-2012, 02:25 AM
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A bit of a diversion from 'manure in an aquarium', but useful for gardeners...

I did not think blood meal was high carbon.
See page 2 of this link for C:N ratios of some of the materials we are discussing.
Blood meal has high enough N so that it ends up as a fertilizer (N left over) when the composting is complete. There is carbon in it, but when you are making a blend that will compost quickly blood meal is treated as a source of N.
Legume hay (alfalfa, clover) has a little bit of extra N, but not much.
Oat straw (a dried grass commonly fed to horses around here) is so low in N it is practically all C. (Actually HAY is harvested earlier while there is still some nutrition in it, but it is still high C, low N)
I agree that new mown lawn, grass clippings, is very high N. It is almost all water, no structural material. Dry it out and what is left is high N, low C. The dried grasses fed to animals are more mature, and do contain plant structural material so are much higher C than lawn grasses.
http://www.extsoilcrop.colostate.edu...ogen_ratio.pdf

I am saying the blend of bedding (carbon) and manure/urine makes a reasonable C:N ratio so it will compost quickly. I understand the high lignin content of most bedding materials does not fully compost as fast a non-woody plant material. There is also the issue of toxics that may be part of the original material (Walnut and others). The slow composting of the lignins is part of the benefit of using used stall bedding as a soil amendment in the landscape. If you are buying it as fertilizer, though, you are being mislead.
Composted stall bedding is not fertilizer. The N from manure and urine does get used up in breaking down the bedding. It makes a very good soil amendment when (garden) soils are low in organic matter.

I have used almost fresh stall cleanings in vegetable boxes and even though I could smell the manure and ammonia the seeding plants did not get burned. It is not that rich.

Horses that are in runs without bedding drop their manure wherever they want (including in the water) and may or may not urinate in the manure.
If you put this material (essentially pure manure) in a compost pile it will probably compost just fine by itself (C:N ratio of horse manure varies with the horse's diet, but is usually about 25 to 35 parts C to 1 part N, great ratio for composting), but the finished product is not fertilizer.

If you steep fresh or nearly fresh (not composted) manure in water to make manure tea there is enough N, P & K that the resulting tea would act as fertilizer in an aquarium, or for house plants. There will highly likely be other materials that would make me think twice about using it though. Domestic horses are regularly wormed, and some of this material ends up in the manure. Horses are fed salt (usually sodium chloride blended with minerals) and some of this ends up in the manure. Is this too salty for aquarium fertilizer? It might be. In garden or house plant use the manure tea is not the only source of water. You would use manure tea occasionally, and water several times, flushing out the salts the plants do not use and do not like.
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post #21 of 21 (permalink) Old 08-18-2012, 03:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Hoppy View Post
The whole idea behind mineralizing is to convert the organic nitrogen to inorganic nitrogen (nitrates). I don't see why horse manure couldn't be mineralized successfully the same as any other organic compost. When it doesn't have a smell when damp it should be totally mineralized. And, the wash cycles should wash away any soluble salts from the urine.
You are correct all manure sources can be mineralized. Based on what animal it came out of, their diet and how ell the digested it will influence it's values.

For example dog's intestine is about 8' long, a human's 20', a deer's is 28', and a cow's is 4xs that. Human saliva helps us breach down starch to sugar, dogs are laking that ability. However a healthy canid's stomach acid will kill salmonella and many other barium that are found on a rotting carrion..

So while all poop stinks, it is not all equal in value for plants.
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