Manure Spreader Program UPDATE - December 2018

Howdy folks!

As we wrap up 2018, I just wanted to share a few things with ya'll about our Manure Spreader Program. In short, it's been a great year! 

  • 2018 Manure Spreader Program Statistics

  • 2019 - Looking Forward

  • Lime Spreader Available

  • Soil Tests are Essential

  • Benefits of Composting Horse Manure

  • Contacts for Horse Manure Hauling Entities

  • Thanks!!

2018 Manure Spreader Program Statistics

We had a great year this year! Here are some numbers from the 2018 season:

42 Total Users

  • 24% increase from 2017

2,982 Miles Driven

  • 71 miles per user vs. 89 miles per user in 2017

  • 20% decrease - great reduction in our carbon footprint!

The anatomy of a horse - Image credit: The Oatmeal

The anatomy of a horse - Image credit: The Oatmeal

I often say that our manure spreader program is one of the best direct benefits we provide to the horse community in Snohomish County. After all, if you own a horse you will have manure! This program is a valuable option for all of us to use that manure to help not only ourselves but the land that provides nutritious forage for our equine friends. 

2019 - Looking Forward

Looking forward to 2019 we are not only looking to improve our numbers over 2018 but also to make the program easier for folks to use. A few of the things under research and consideration are:

  • an electronic method of reserving the manure and lime spreaders

  • on line users manuals for help with common issues

  • on line instructional videos that go over usage, cleaning, and topics of concern with users

Stay tuned for future updates. If you have any ideas on how we can improve our program for 2019 then PLEASE let us know! We always enjoy getting input from you!

Lime Spreader Available

Lime spreader in use

Lime spreader in use

We also have a small lime spreader available for FREE (including delivery and pick up) for everyone needing to spread lime on their pastures. The pH of our soils is a constant struggle for us in western Washington, and applying lime is our best way to overcome. It is the best way to battle weeds and free up nutrients for good grass production. That is why we offer this benefit to every cooperator we have, even if you don't own a horse! Good grass production and good pastures are not just for grazing. It also helps filter the water going into our streams, creeks and groundwater, as well as do a great job sequestering carbon from our atmosphere. 

If you would like to reserve the manure spreader please contact us any time to get scheduled. 

Soil Tests are Essential

 Before spreading compost or lime on your pasture the most essential thing you can do in order to do it intelligently is to test your soil. A soil test will not only tell you the pH of your soil, letting you know how much lime you need, but it also tell you how much of each of the essential nutrients you have in the soil and how much you need for healthy grass production. Also, a healthy soil test is required before reserving the manure spreader because we cannot advise spreading on soil with existing nutrient problems.

We test soil for FREE during our "Soil Test Season," which is from about mid-April until mid June, then mid-September until mid-October. What drives that schedule is soil saturation from our rains or dryness from the lack of. Soil moisture is a key piece in obtaining a proper testable sample. Please contact us during the season to discuss your need and get a spot on the schedule. 

Benefits of Composting Horse Manure

People often ask me why I encourage people to compost horse manure and then spread it on their pasture instead of hauling it all away*. Well, for those who have pasture soil that either can take it or needs it (info you get from a FREE soil test!), composting and spreading horse manure has many benefits, including:

Horse Health

  • Reduces flies

   - A well-managed compost pile will reach temperatures high enough to kill fly eggs and larvae in manure.

  • Kills parasites and pathogens

   - The high temperatures achieved through composting also kills pathogens (bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa).

Convenience and Aesthetics

  • Reduces odors

   - A well-managed compost pile will be free of the odors often associated with an uncomposted manure pile...and create less complaints from neighbors!

  • Cuts your pile in half

   - Composting reduces bulk and has 40 to 60 percent less volume and weight than uncomposted manure. Who doesn't want that?

  • Kills weed seeds

   - The high temperatures achieved through composting kills most weed seeds.

  • Evens out grazing patterns

   - Horses grazing in pastures spread with composted manure (instead of fresh manure) are more likely to graze normally and are less likely to restrict grazing to areas with the thinnest application rates.

Healthy Soil

  • Improve aeration and water retention

   - Adding compost to soil builds good soil structure and texture, increasing the amount of air that can infiltrate and the amount of water it can hold.

  • Supply nutrients

   - When fresh manure is spread on a field, about 50 percent of the nitrogen is in highly soluble form and will be washed out by rain when it is spread on pasture. In compost, however, 95 to 97 percent of nitrogen has been converted to a much more stable form and slowly released, allowing plants to use it over a longer period of time.

  • Bacteria, earthworms, and pH

   - Compost also supports essential soil bacteria; feeds earthworms and allows them to multiply; and gradually changes soil pH levels that are either too low (acidic) or too high (alkaline).

The Environment

  • Protect water quality

   - Because the composting process converts nitrogen into a less soluble form, it is less likely to be washed out of manure and into ground water or surface water.

  • Protect fish and shellfish

   - When rain falls on soil rich with compost, raindrops seep into it. When rain falls on packed soil rain runs off the surface, creating erosion and carrying soil particles to nearby waterways. Sediment can smother trout and salmon eggs and make water cloudy, making it more difficult for fish to find insects to eat.

  • Conserve our natural resources

   - Using compost instead of chemical fertilizers can reduce our use of non-renewable resources like natural gas. Approximately 2 percent of the natural gas consumed in the United States goes into the manufacturing of nitrogen fertilizer.

So, compost that manure and spread it if you can and you will see that your equine companion is returning your love and care through soil amendment gold! :)

For more information on composting and using horse manure please read the "Guide to Composting Horse Manure" by WSU Cooperative Extension.

Download PDF

Note * - contact Michael for a current list of entities that will accept or haul manure off of your property. Throughout the year, the list may change and Michael can point you in the right direction.


Thanks to everyone who has been and will be using the manure spreader this year! Your use and support are doing a lot to improve soil health and protect our natural resources, as well as making your pastures better for your horse and you. If you have any questions about the programs or your place on the list please contact me using my contact information below.

Have a joyous holiday season, and I hope you all have a great 2019!

Thanks again!


Michael Hipp   

Farm Planner & Equine Specialist     

Sound Horsekeeping Program    

Snohomish Conservation District           

Office: (425) 377-7019