Student Life: Down on the Farm

Preparing for Spring

by Emily Arnold

Well, nobody said it would be glamorous! Emily Arnold learns about the best ways to fertilize crops.

Well, nobody said it would be glamorous! Emily Arnold learns about the best way to fertilize crops.

The Freeman Ranch staff gave us permission to collect horse manure from the horse pen at the ranch. Horse manure is the best kind of manure for composting because of the animals’ digestive tract as well as their diet. They are by definition “hind-gut fermenters,” which means the absorption of nutrients from their food doesn’t begin until the end of the digestive tract. This makes their waste higher in nutrient content. Also, the horses at the ranch are fed entirely pesticide- and herbicide-free grass.

Once we collected the horse manure, we put some aside in a compost pile, and we applied some directly to rows that are currently empty. Because of the high nutrient content, we went in with rakes and manually tried to break it down and mix it into the soil. If we were to try and plant directly into the manure without letting it sit, the plants could get burned from high levels of nitrogen and die. We have been watering the rows with the manure in it to speed up the break down, and hopefully when we go to plant in week or so, the soil will be more fertile and give our plants some extra nutrition.

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