Best Management Practices are simple management strategies and tools that can help decrease potential negative effects horses' have on the water and land.
In recent years water has become a very serious issue locally, as well as statewide. We are not alone, as most states will or already do face the same problem. Everyone has a part in protecting our potable water resources to ensure clean water today and for future generations.
Due to the concentrated number of horses in our county, the equine industry poses a higher risk for negatively impacting the water.
|How do horses and horse farms impact our water negatively?|
|Why are BMPs essential to proper farm management?|
|BMPs an overview.|
|Proper farm management: local and state laws.|
1. Manure and urine – manure is made up of many different components, nitrogen being one of them. Excess amounts of N+ can:
- Increase algae growth, which then can harm and kill fish and aquatic life.
- Make the water undrinkable for humans and animals when excessive levels are found in the water.
- Leach into our ground water. Florida, in particular, has a ground with little ability to hold this excess, so the rest goes to the water below.
2. Over or improper fertilizer handling – adding too much, or the wrong type of fertilizer and fertilizing soil with an improper pH adds additional N+, as well as other potential harmful nutrients to the soil. This can also waste your money!
3. Overstocking the land – this leads to overgrazing which will potentially destroy good vegetation:
- Without grass, the land has no ability to take up the N+, so all of it goes straight to the aquifer.
- Little or no vegetation increases soil erosion, thereby increasing sediment in the aquifer.
- It decreases property value and can also decrease usefulness of the land due to erosion, but it will increase the money needed by farm for upkeep.
- Potentially increases chance of sand colic.
1. They help to decrease or eliminate harm to water:
- By using these simple techniques properly, you decrease or eliminate your farm's negative impact on the environment
- Each impact adds up to big difference.
2. They improve the quality of the farm, thereby improving conditions for horses:
- More grass in the pastures leads to better grazing conditions, which logically improves nutrients being taken up by horse.
- It may help decrease worm and insect infestation, thereby reducing medical issues for the animals, reducing the money spent on medical issues.
3. They improve farm business:
- Helps improve business when a beautiful appearance is given to the farms.
- A smartly run business helps to sell itself-this counts in the horse industry.
1. No stockpiling of manure in sinkholes/excavated mines or pits.
- Any dumping in sinkholes only increases excess N+ ability to reach aquifer.
2. Proper fertilization of pastures.
- 50lbs nitrogen per acre generally recommended rate for pastures.
- Rates are higher when growing to hay.
3. Soil-test all areas to be fertilized first.
- Saves the farm money by only using correct item/amount.
- Ensures proper amounts/rates that can be best taken up by the grass.
- Should soil test every 2-3 years to find out correct needed nutrients and soil pH.
4. Proper spreading of manure or disposal via hauling away or composting.
- Use 1 horse-per-spreadable acre as a guide.
- Spreading manure/shaving will be acceptable; must be careful with application rates.
- Composting on-site is an excellent way to decrease manure's harmful effects AND increase numerous benefits to soil.
- It makes an excellent soil amendment.
- It allows soil to need less water.
- It is an excellent slow-release fertilizer.
5. No dumping of manure in wetlands, streams or any water feature.
1. Pasture Best Management Practices include:
- Proper stocking rates of pastures.
- The University of Florida recommends 1:1- 2 1/ 2 ratio as a minimum\
- As much as five acres per horse for pastures; horse breed, grass type, soil base, stocking amounts all factors for not allowing pastures to become overgrazed.
- Maintain grass levels of at least 3 inches.
- Use proper pasture rotation to allow grass time to rest and regrow.
- Where applicable, plant additional seed and winter rye to help maintain pasture thickness.
- Cut larger pastures into smaller ones to allow for more uniform grazing.
2. Develop a plan for manure handling.
- Make sure that manure spreading on paddocks is within acceptable rates. (One spreadable acre per horse.)
- Either composting manure on-site or removing to an environmentally-friendly alternative is best.
1. Marion County Springs Protection legislation:
- Adopted in 2009.
- Excessive manure stockpiling now prohibited; piles must get picked up a maximum of every 3 months.
- Fertilization maximums will also now be enforced; 50 pounds of Nitrogen per acre is the maximum which may be applied to pastures.
2. Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) legislation regarding CAFO's:
- Concentrated animal feeding operation.
- Any facility housing animals 45 days or more must have groundwater permitting.
- Initially for 500 horses or more; will affect 150-499 horses in future.
- Any facility seen to be a nitrogen emitter by DEP can have legislation enforced upon it.