By Maddy Butcher Gray
Cattle farmers, especially in Europe, are creating sustainable, even profitable methods for dealing with waste. Cows produce a digestive gas called enteric methane. Simply released to the atmosphere, it contributes to global warming. But if you harness it, poop can provide power.
But what about horse manure?
Dr. William Martin-Rosset looked into the pros and cons of horse waste and delivered his findings at this year’s French Equine Research Day. Martin-Rosset is head of equine nutrition research at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA).
Turns out horse manure is not nearly as harmful as cow manure when it comes to global warming. In France, cows produce 90 percent of the nation’s enteric methane. Horses create less than two percent.
An average horse produces nine tons of manure each year; from that, about 46 pounds of methane gas are emitted.
“Our work reveals that equids are only weak contributors to global warming due to their anatomy and digestive physiology,” Martin-Rosset said. Read additional article.
Nonetheless, horse manure can provide a good energy source through methanization. In Chantilly, France, for example, thousands of horses contribute to a manure-to-electricity project. Read more.
Moving into the future, it’s conceivable that manure may be a hot commodity of sorts. Researchers looked at how mushrooms grow in horse manure, compared with other animal manure. Read more.
Composting deceased horses under manure instead of burying them is becoming a prudent alternative. In Maine, for instance, burying carcasses is actually against the law in some areas and cremating is expensive. Read more about Compassionate Composting, Michelle Melaragno’s pioneering business.
On a smaller scale, scientists help us individual horse owners understand some important and more relevant facts about manure:
- Fresh manure can be harmful if used immediately as a fertilizer. Read more.
- Manure in pastures and paddocks should be removed or broken down to reduce parasite build-up.
- Composted manure can provide nutrient-rich soil if allowed to age properly.
- Medications and chemicals we give our horses end up in their manure. In turn, that manure can be harmful to the environment if introduced into the water table or used to fertilize gardens, etc.
What’s the best muck rake? Check out NickerNews Bestuvs
What’s a “Zone of Repugnance”? Find out here.