(post by Jason) One of the main farm activities around here during late July and August is spreading the yearly accumulation of composted manure. Spreading manure in July is something that never fails to baffle my farmer friends from Canada and the northern US. In the climate I grew up in most crops are at or approaching physiological maturity by the end of the July. The growing season is somewhere between 30 and 60 days away from being over with for another year. As such, spreading manure at this time of year would be a complete waste of time and nutrients in that climate.
Down here the story is a little different and spreading manure in July makes perfect sense for any number of reasons. Manure that was piled in the spring has undergone a tremendous amount of composting by mid to late July. It’s fluffy and light, very easy to dig into and to spread. Composted horse manure contains significant amounts of slow release nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium as well as significant levels of trace minerals like copper, cobalt, iron, and many others. Composted manure releases nutrients very slowly compared to any sort of commercial fertilizer. It’s also a much more complete source of nutrients than any blend one can buy and as such we treat it like gold around here.
Because the nutrients in composted manure release very slowly one has to take the long view. Composted manure won’t fix any issues that crop up in the next several weeks, but it will address potential issues many months out. Thus we apply these nutrients now in order to strengthen the root system of our warm season grasses to prepare them for winter and to prepare them for a vigorous start for next year’s growing season. It also helps get our C3 cool season grasses, which begin to regrow in mid to late October after going dormant in the summer, off to a good, healthful start.
Farming is different from many industries in that to be successful we work within many biological cycles at once regardless of how long or short the time frame of the cycle in question may be. Thus when folks see me running my manure spreader on some of the hottest, driest days of the year and wonder what I’m doing, they’ll probably think I’m crazy when I answer that I’m mostly preparing my warm season grass for next spring.
Homer and Levendi grazing in the rain
Chance and Leo
Elfin had the shed all to himself in the rain
Apollo and Hemi
Lighty, Nemo and Sebastian
Johnny, Sam, Blu and Mick
Gibson and Donneur grooming
Timbit, Griselle and Sparky
Fabrizzio and Walden