I bet while you are cleaning your stalls, you didn’t think of yourself as a manure manager, did you? The average stalled horse can produce 50 lbs. of manure per day and that doesn’t even include the bedding material, whether it be shavings or straw. Taking that into consideration, add another 10-20 lbs., giving a total of about 12 tons of waste per horse stall per year!
There is much more to managing manure on a horse farm than you thought and it is different than what is implemented on a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO). When it comes to water quality, there are concerns related to point source (a single identifiable point of pollution) versus non-point source, aka NPS (non-specific source of pollution such as collective run-off from agriculture land). Main water pollutants from NPS would be things like nutrients, primarily nitrogen and phosphorus, organic matter and pathogens. Some basic management practices can be implemented on farm to protect surface water resources.
While you might be exempt from getting an animal manure handling permit from the GA Department of Agriculture, as
You are still responsible for following the rules regarding storage, land applications, buffers, etc. Animal manure, whether solid or semi-solid must be stored in a site/facility designed to prevents discharge of that manure. The covering must prevent run-off and limit insect breeding.
Elevation and slope must divert water away from the storage site/facility. The site/facility must be a minimum of 200 feet away from the property line unless otherwise approved by the GA Department of Agriculture. The manure is not allowed to come in contact with ground water or be exposed to excessive run-off. Land application shall be at least 100 feet of non-vegetative distance or 35 feet of perennial vegetative buffer from any down-gradient surface water, including but not limited to, streams, ponds, springs, sinkholes or wetlands; at least 100 feet from any well; and applied in a manner such that manure does not leave the property on which it was intended to be applied.
For more information on GA Department of Agriculture Rules for Animal Manure Handling, contact Courtney Wilson, Compliance Specialist, Agriculture Inputs Division at firstname.lastname@example.org. To do your own self-assessment for your horses and pastures, see the Georgia Farm *A* Syst publication on Healthy Horses, Healthy Land, https://richvigue.com/documents/healthy_horses.pdf. If you need cost share assistance for manure storage structures or creek crossings, contact your local USDA NRCS office or Georgia Soil & Water Conservation Commission. If you do not have their numbers, your local county extension office can provide them.
Brenda Jackson, Murray County Extension Coordinator