How to Compost Manured Sand

Overview

Composting manure-laden bedding material from your farm or livestock operation provides a thick, rich soil additive that you can use to increase the productivity of your vegetable and flower gardens. Sand is a common bedding material for a range of livestock species, especially cows, who produce a manure that is ideal for use as compost. Composting manured sand successfully requires that you add additional bulking materials to your compost pile in order to offset the density of the sand itself.

Step 1

Create a square or rectangular compost enclosure that is minimally 3 cubic feet (3-feet-by-3-feet-by-3-feet) but no more than 5 cubic feet. Locate your compost area on high ground that drains well and is close to your barn to allow you to easily transport your manured sand. Since sand is loose and can filter out of a wire-enclosed compost heap, use a more solid material to encircle your compost, such as cement blocks or bricks.

Step 2

Locate material you can use as a bulking agent for your manured sand. According to Extension.org, possible choices include waste feed, old silage and poor-quality or rain-damaged hay. Bulking materials such as these allow air to move through your compost pile more easily, which promotes quicker decomposition.

Step 3

Layer your compost. Extension.org states that you can typically layer manured sand and your bulking material on a one-to-one ratio. Begin with a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic bulking material; top that layer with a 2- to 3-inch layer of manured sand. Repeat this layering process until your pile is as tall as it is wide; make sure the center of your pile is slightly lower than the edges to allow rainwater to soak into your pile more easily.

Step 4

Water your compost pile with a garden hose. Your goal is for the pile to be as wet as a wrung-out sponge; monitor the pile daily to ensure that it remains moist. Charles Marr, an extension specialist at Kansas State University, notes that failing to keep your compost pile damp causes it to oxidize too quickly which produces a lightweight compost that has little nutritive value.

Step 5

Turn your compost at least once weekly with a manure fork to hasten the composting process. This increases the airflow in your pile and allows the microorganisms to work more quickly. Don't forget to spray your pile lightly with a garden hose each time you turn the compost. Typically, you should be able to produce finished compost in about 4 to 6 months.

Things You'll Need

  • Cement blocks or bricks
  • Manure-laden sand
  • Bulking materials
  • Garden hose
  • Manure fork

References

  • Extension.org: Composting Sand-laden manure
  • Kansas State University: Making and Using Compost at Home (PDF)

Who Can Help

  • Cornell University Waste Management Institute: Bulking Materials in Compost (PDF)
Keywords: composting manure, manured sand, composting sand

About this Author

Regan Hennessy has been writing professionally for 11 years. A freelance copywriter and certified teacher, Hennessy specializes in the areas of parenting, health, education, agriculture and personal finance. During her time with Demand Studios, Hennessy has produced content for Ehow, Answerbag and Travels. Hennessy graduated from Lycoming College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.