So spring is almost here, the trees are budding, the birds are back, and the no-burn bylaw comes into play in about two weeks, so on my off time of course I am burning dead grass off my horse pasture.
Being that I rescued the horses in late summer last year, the land had been left to its own devices for the previous 3 years, it had done a decent job bringing itself back from the intense pastureization of the previous owners; with many of the neighbours beginning to call my small acres 'that weed farm'. Now with the attention of the horses it has become a well trodden plot of old dry grass and weeds and many many beautiful piles of brown gold, In burning the grass off of course i unintentionally set some of the older manure aflame, like stinky little poop candles, they burnt for quite awhile, standing there leaning on my rake, watching the horse apples smoulder and burn, my mind started to mesh manure tea and bio-char, a practice I've done before for soil amendments; though always using wood charcoal as the media before.
I've read that if left alone the manure will either chemically burn the ground for several years, leaving a very 'hot', though well fertilized dead zone, or it will dry up and lose all the nutrients to the winds (meaning someone will benefit from the nutrients, just not the land it came from), leaving just the cellulose behind. The usual course of action, is to collect, segregate and compost the manure for varying periods of time, which I have done with the complimentary sheep and horse manure given by the next door neighbours; for the last several years, which has served me well in the fertilization of the veggie gardens.
My question is, has anyone every tried to carbonize dried horse manure? My mind is split on this matter, having a little knowledge of bio-char making, of course it can be done, but should it? Has anyone out there in the permiesphere done anything along the same lines?
My base line thought would be to leach the raw manure, to provide an inoculation tea after the burn. Then use the Poo char, as the sponge to hold the nutrients... Arg! it seems to make sense, but i have this nagging feeling that it could be devastatingly wrong... Any advice would be appreciated
I wouldn't char horse manure. It's much better dug in as is, or with a short composting time. Not being ruminants, horse manure is much less likely to burn plant roots, almost in the same category as rabbit pellets. Another use for it would be to make compost tea, or if you use it fresh out of the stall, manure tea. Once you dilute it up one part of manure to ten parts water and oxygenate it for a day or two, it can go straight into the garden.
I suppose if you had a great abundance of it and no other biomass to char, you could make biochar from it, but that would be my last option for it.
In theory you could tea out the nutrient and char the rest, but you would spend a lot of time and/or energy drying it back out.
A pasture drag to spread it out right before a rain is the most effective IMO. It doesn't take much fuel to pull a drag across a pasture.
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