Managing a successful equestrian farm can be hard on the land and damaging to property values if care isn’t put into environmentally-friendly farming. For owners who may want to sell their farm for a profit in the future – and for those who just want to maintain the beauty of the Virginia landscape – here are some tips for maintaining the health and beauty of your horse farm.
First, horse farmers should take steps to improve the soil and water of their farm. Organic fertilizers, natural mineral compounds, and nontoxic weed spray should be used exclusively. To preserve the quality of your water, use biodegradable products on the horses and make sure that wash water is absorbed into the soil and won’t run into streams or ponds. It can also help to plant trees in front of bodies of water to prevent urine, manure, and pesticides from polluting it.
Managing manure is critical for the health of the land. Manure can easily contaminate groundwater, making it dangerous for humans and horses alike. A simple solution is to compost the manure, which both protects your water and gives you a nutrient-rich fertilizer to spread on your pastures later. During composting, the manure is reduced by about half, and healthy manure will not have an odor.
The soil is important for health of both your land and your horses, as toxic elements in the soil can make it difficult to grow the nutritive grass your horses need. Test your soil so you know what you can do to improve its mineral content and pH. If your land was used to grow fruit, there could be toxins that should be treated. If your horses start to show signs of health problems, they could be linked to the quality of the soil and grass and the presence of dangerous elements such as arsenic. And don’t be scared off by having a variety of grasses and weeds – horses eat a wide range of greens, and having a variety of plants helps to protect the soil from erosion.
If mosquitos are a problem, mowing tall weeds can help to keep the problem under control without pesticides. For other flying insects, buy bird houses and bird food specific to the kinds of birds that eat the bugs you’re struggling with. And the barn will attract fewer flies if it’s kept dark during the day and a fan is left on.
Finally, take steps to reduce your energy consumption. Install solar panels on the farm, and try out geothermal automatic waterers. These waterers don’t require electricity and will keep the water above freezing in the winter and cool in the summer.
By taking these steps, you can insure that your land, your horses, and your family stay healthy, and you’ll save money in the process. Protecting your soil and your water supply are the most critical steps for the health of any equestrian farm, but switching to renewable energy can significantly reduce the bills of a new equestrian farm owner.