Remember that post about the new, bigger manure spreader? Well, one of the fall chores around the ranch is to spread our compost over the fields. It used to be a very tedious, long three or four days. Now, we can get it done in about a day!
We were initially worried that our little tractor couldn’t pull the fully loaded spreader, but Dad put ‘er in low gear and just (slowly) went for it.
As an ecologist, I have to say, we have some pretty nice native plants in our fields. We make sure our compost is well and truly cooked before we spread it, because the high temperatures inside a good pile (135° -160° F) will kill weed seeds.
We fertilize our fields in the fall, so moisture from rain and snow through winter and spring will break it down further, and spread the nutrients into the soil.
I used to study this kind of thing, so I’m tempted to discuss over fertilization of historically nutrient poor areas (the plains of Colorado aren’t exactly verdant). Let’s just say that a careful balance between nitrogen, which comes from the animal waste, and carbon, which comes from their bedding, is important. I haven’t run any chemistry on our compost, but as long as the NATIVE plants keep looking healthy, I’d say we’re in good shape.