Pictured here at Trow Farm is where we convert 1,300 tonnes of manure each year which is then recycled into soil conditioner.
Dung is collected daily from the yards, and the fields are swept clear on dry days. The barns are deep littered and the dung and bedding is cleaned out every three to four weeks (depending on the weather).
The straw and dung waste from each farm is taken to its nearest compost pad at Trow Farm, Woods Farm or Town Barton Farm.
Manure is positioned in windrows on the concrete pad; we do this by loading the manure into our rear discharge muck spreader. This is fitted with chopping blades and discharges whilst driving forward very slowly.
The chopped manure needs moisture to work and water is added from the dirty water chamber below the pad. The dirty water from all the donkey yards is collected and pumped into the chamber so that it can be re-used in the compost making process.
This chopping, mixing, aerating and watering has the effect of speeding up the normal composting process; it is repeated weekly and reduces the volume of the muck heap by nearly 50%. The heat produced during composting kills pathogens and weed seeds and the windrows are constantly monitored to keep temperatures at optimum levels.
Twelve weeks later the resultant crumbly, odourless, dark brown soil conditioner is ready to be stored in a large heap where it is left to mature. It is then spread either in the early spring, if the ground is dry enough, or after the hay has been cut in the summer.
By producing our own soil conditioner, we have significantly reduced the need to use artificial fertilisers and are able to replenish the grassland, so that it produces a good crop of hay for feeding the donkeys the following year.
The composting process:
- reduces the volume of the manure by 50%
- kills parasites and pathogens
- minimises the need to use artificial fertilisers
- is sustainable and environmentally friendly
- makes use of the dirty water
- the final produce is a dark, friable soil conditioner that benefits the land
- has no noticeable odours.