With summer just around the corner, we have been inundated with orders for manure, with just a month into our busy season we have exhausted a significant amount of our processed inventory accumulated over the winter. Currently we are working through the bulk manure we have only roughly sorted and are focusing on collection and drying new inventory.
While working through this process the mind wanders and it occurred to me to that we should do a blog post on how customers can properly store manure to last beyond immediate use, for this is not always as obvious as it seems… the process of collection and sorting is always changing, over the last decade we have changed how we collect, sort and process manure many times, primarily trying to find the finished product that would offer the most appeal with the least work. Perhaps the most problematic step in the process is the drying and storing, we are blessed with ideal weather and climate for this process, perhaps no better place in the United States exists. We have extremely low humidity, vast amounts of sun, and short rainy seasons. These factors make this type of product practical here, for someone in a more humid environment the drying and storage would be far more problematic.
Collection is easy and can be done in large amounts quickly, the real bottleneck is the sorting and processing, it is really the hardest part which takes the most work. The drying is just a matter of time in the sun, which this time of year can be as short as a week to fully dry (we generally go two weeks to make sure), but the longer it dries the more stable it is. Also the harder and lighter the color becomes in the sun. While manure looks black, it is actually a dark green, essentially processed alfalfa and feed; it lacks the foul odor or unpleasant nature most other manures possess because the sulfides are shed in wool production.
Once the manure is sorted and thoroughly dried, the next step is making sure the product maintains its stability; over the years we have learned some hard lessons by not taking the proper steps to store it properly. If the manure is not going to be used within a few months, it is imperative that the manure is kept in a dry environment and exposed to air, this is especially true in humid environments.
By the time a customer receives the manure it has been thoroughly dried and should remain stable for months if properly stored. While we have not experimented with other environments, we do know that properly dried manure that is exposed to air (in open containers without lids, covers or bags) will last for more than a year without any noticeable changes. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that any introduction of moisture can lead to spoilage, the driest manure in the world mixed with fresh manure will spoil and mildew if given the right conditions. We go through extraordinary lengths to keep fresh manure separate from the processed and dried manure stores; we do not even allow the two near one another. In the past carelessness, the introduction of fresher manure with older dried manure, caused us to lose significant inventory stores because we mixed the two too early. This is mostly only a problem here in the rainy season, where a longer dry time is needed, but in a more humid environment it could be a more common problem. Because customers will not receive fresh manure this will not be a problem, the mixing of old-dried with more dried should pose no problems, however consider the introduction of any additive to dried manure as a potential problem if it will introduce moisture.
In short, the manure you will receive will be thoroughly dried, if you do not plan on using it within a month or so, be sure to remove it from its plastic bag and keep it exposed to dry air, in large bins or clean garbage cans. Do not introduce any moisture to the manure and it should last for many months.
Remember also that if you order manure April-June we will have higher demand and there could be delays as it is never a good idea to mail manure that isn’t thoroughly dry. Further July-October is our rainy season, so drying times are longer and this hampers quick deliveries also, especially as we live in an area that requires driving over dirt roads (sometimes we simply cannot get to town)!