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Turning Horse Manure into Biomass Renewable Energy

Turing Horse Manure into Biomass Renewable EnergyThere are increasing numbers of horses in North America, and the piles of manure from these animals are getting bigger and bigger. For horse owners with sufficient land on which to spread their manure, or the space to compost it, these piles present no problem at all. After all, using horse manure for crop cultivation is a great way to get nutrients back into the soil that were used to grow the crops that fed the horses.

Unfortunately, lot of stables, riding schools and other equine facilities in North America are near to built-up areas, lacking the land on which to spread their manure or the space required for composting. For these equine facilities horse manure has become a very costly problem; it is estimated that horse owners in North America currently pay around $50 million a month to farmers, contractors and waste disposal companies to get rid of their horse manure.

Viewing Waste as a Resource
Possible solutions for better horse manure management include producing biogas, combustion in boilers and pelletization.
Obviously, finding ways to deal with horse manure is a problem that many in the industry wrestles with. After all, even for the equine facilities fortunate enough to find somewhere to take their manure, the concern is always what happens when those that currently take it don’t want to take it any more?

Thankfully the Swedish Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering (JTI) is looking into solving the problem of growing horse manure piles by taking a different view; looking at horse manure as a resource for biomass renewable energy rather than a waste problem. Extracting energy from horse manure makes it into a resource, as it generates income and can replace fossil fuels.

JTI researchers together with the SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden have already tried converting horse manure into biomass renewable energy through burning it in chip boilers, with good results. Research trials have also been undertaken to make horse manure pellets for local markets and small-scale district heating plants.

Another option being tested by JTI is anaerobic digestion of horse manure, often considered a difficult feedstock to digest. For the past few years JTI has been running a digestion project where horse manure is mixed with liquid manure from cattle and pigs for digestion. This research, which has tried digesting various combinations of horse manure, has shown especially promising results with a mixture of horse manure and straw pellets.

For more information about better ways to manage horse manure, or if you have any questions regarding manure and waste management, please contact us.

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