Green Options in Farm Management & Construction
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Green Options in Farm Management & Construction

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From general approaches to horse-specific ones, tips on how to become more environmentally sustainable.

From general approaches to horse-specific ones, tips on how to become more environmentally sustainable.

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  • Kermit the Frog used to sing a song, “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” Easier today than previously, and more important.
  • Water “quality” requirements may differ, depending upon use. Recycled water, e.g., for equipment washing.
  • Slope to land important. Pasture management important. MUCH energy in water flow . . . Soil movement and erosion occur. Control or “shunt” water flow, e.g., across fields.
  • Compact fluorescent light bulbs last 10X longer than conventional ones. They pay for themselves in 6 months, and use 75% less energy. Over their lifetime, they save approximately $30 over conventional ones. More savings are possible if you purchase the bulbs in bulk. Source:
  • Initial outlay for Bonded Logic product can be up to 25% more than conventional insulation. BUT some advantages include not unwieldy to handle, nor harmful to touch. More natural products used in product. Potential tax credits up to 30% or $1500 for use of product
  • Water flow causes erosion. Wind contributes to erosion. How water is channeled on a farm can help to control erosion. Landscape features can help to decrease erosion. Farm planning entails both slopes (grades) of land, as well as measures to decrease impact of wind and possible erosion.
  • Define your “problem areas” or list things that you have a lot of, then determine a use for those things.
  • Picture shows a pasture with plants being over and under grazed.


  • 1. Green Options in Farm Management and Construction Elaine Long Bailey Calvert County 4-H Educator Heather Buritsch Talbot County Master Gardener Coordinator Shannon Dill Talbot County Agricultural Extension Educator
  • 2. GREEN is . . .
      • Conservation-oriented
      • Environmentally friendly
      • Of low ecological impact
      • Sustainable
      • Concerning ourselves today for what is available tomorrow
  • 3. Conservation-oriented
      • Water
      • Energy
      • Soil
      • Other resources
  • 4. Water on the Farm Uses
      • Water for humans
      • Water for animals
      • Water for crops
      • Water for bathing animals
      • Water for washing equipment or facilities
    Direct Sources
      • Wells
      • Wells or springs
      • Wells, springs, ponds
      • Wells, springs, ponds
      • Wells, springs, ponds
  • 5. How can we effectively manage water?
    • Keep wells protected (contamination and caving)
    • Clean out springs (debris)
    • Prevent vegetative overgrowth in ponds
    • Repair leaks, drips, and other “escapes” of water
    • Proper pasture management/soil protection
  • 6. Energy
    • Turn off lights when areas not in use
    • Turn off heat (or AC) when areas not in use
    • Replace incandescent bulbs with energy saver ones
      • Longer life
      • More efficient use of electricity
    • To learn more, go to
  • 7. Alternatives to Save Energy
    • Proper insulation for temperature-sensitive areas
    • Tack rooms, observation areas, feed rooms
      • Bonded Logic’s UltraTouch insulation
      • Recycled jeans
      • See
  • 8. Soil Erosion
    • Water
    • Wind
    • Relates to water management, landscaping, farm planning
  • 9. Some Other Simple Changes
    • Use feed bags as trash receptacles
    • Recycle paper, plastic, (glass), etc.
    • Reduce, recycle, reuse . . . retrofit
    • Reuse items imaginatively
  • 10. Brainstorms
    • Baling twine
    • Baling twine makes neat craft projects
      • 4-H’ers make lead ropes, dog leashes, cat scratching posts
      • Rugs
    • Repair devices
    • Scrub buckets
  • 11. Think “outside the box”
  • 12. Land/Property Management
  • 13. Nutrient Management
    • Nutrient Management incorporates
      • Soil Tests
      • Crops and Crop Nutrient Needs
      • Manure Usage
    • A law in Maryland if you have over 8,000 pounds of animals (8 full size horses)
    • A good farm management and environmental practice
  • 14. Benefits of Nutrient Management
    • Reduces fertilizer costs
    • Gives pH values – pH helps plants use nutrients
    • Better management and usage of forage and pastures
    • Better manure handling and management
  • 15. Basic Types of Pastures
    • Continuous
      • animals are allowed to graze in the pasture for extended periods of time
      • animals often do well in this system since they are allowed to choose the plants they eat
      • plants are often overgrazed and undergrazed in this system
  • 16. Continuous Grazing
  • 17. Basic Types of Pastures
    • Rotational
      • animals are allowed to graze for only a limited period of time and animals are moved when existing forage has been removed
      • intensive rotational grazing systems subdivide pastures into paddocks and use high stocking rates where animals are forced to eat all forages
      • this system is most efficient
  • 18. Rotational Grazing
  • 19. Maintaining Pastures
    • Rotate
    • Clip
    • Drag Manure
    • Irrigate/Sprinkler if possible
    • ___________________________________
    • Soil Test (3 yrs)
    • Fertilize/Lime
    • Spray/Herbicide
    • Overseed
    Through the grazing season Done Yearly
  • 20. Recycle Your Manure
    • An average 1,000-pound horse produces 9 tons of manure a year containing valuable fertilizer elements.
    • Horse owners have a responsibility to manage the manure that is a byproduct of their industry.
    • Manure is commonly stockpiled prior to use. Adequate storage area allows for greater flexibility in timing of manure use.
    • Manure can be composted and used for gardens, pastures and flower beds. It have valuable nutrients and increase soil fertility and organic matter.
  • 21. Horse Manure Compost
    • Produces a relatively dry end-product that is easily handled.
    • Reduces the volume of the manure (40 percent to 65 percent less volume and weight than the raw manure).
    • At proper temperature, kills fly eggs and larvae, pathogens and weed seeds.
    • Has less of an odor compared to raw manure and is more easily marketed.
    • Produces manure that acts as a slow release fertilizer and an excellent soil conditioner.
    • To be done right, composting requires an investment of time and money. Machinery required includes a tractor, a manure spreader and a front-end loader. Some ammonia-nitrogen is lost during the composting process, and an ammonia odor may result for a short period. When composting is done on a large scale, additional land and machinery requirements exist.
  • 22. Bin Sample Jessica Paige, WSU Cooperative Extension, Whatcom County
  • 23. Landscapes and Plants
  • 24. Toxic Plant Management
    • Most horses will not eat toxic plants if they have access to good quality forage
    • Plants contain toxins to deter browsing
      • To prevent browsing, the toxin makes the plant unpalatable
  • 25. Toxic Plant Management
    • Always be aware of toxic plants. Be most concerned when:
      • Horses are undernourished
      • Horses do not receive adequate forage
      • Pasture grasses are no longer available due to overgrazing, drought, or changing seasons
      • The plant has been know to cause poisoning in healthy horses
  • 26. Toxic Plant Management
    • Toxicity can be difficult to diagnose
    • Symptoms range from mild irritation to death
    • Severity depends on:
        • Availability of the plant
        • Toxicity of the plant
        • Amount ingested
  • 27. Plants that are MILDLY toxic
    • Alsike Clover
    • Buckwheat
    • Buttercup
    • Onions and Garlic
    • Pokeweed
  • 28. Plants that are MODERATELY toxic
    • Black Locust
    • Black Walnut
    • Buckeye or Horse Chestnut
    • Curly Dock
    • Hemp Dogbane
    • Horse Nettle
    • Milkweed
    • Oak
    • Rhododendron/Azalea
    • Spurge
  • 29. Plants that are EXTREMELY toxic
    • Wild Black Cherry
    • Groundsel
    • Hemlock (poison and spotted)
    • Jimson Weed
    • Red Maple
    • Water Hemlock
    • Yew
  • 30. Useful Websites for Toxic Plants:
    • -- Cornell University Poisonous Plant Database
    • - Colorado State University Guide to Poisonous Plants
    • - Purdue Toxic Plants by Degree of Toxicity
  • 31. Sustainable Landscapes
    • Windbreaks
    • Low-Water Landscapes with Natives - Xeriscaping
    • Rain Gardens and Rain Barrels
    • Riparian Buffers and Diversion
  • 32. Windbreaks
    • Slows wind on its downwind side for a distance 10X the height of the trees
    • Shelter for horses
    • Provides shelter and food for wildlife
    • Reduces dust, thus improves air quality
    • Noise reduction
    • Can mix in deciduous
    • trees and shrubs
    Eastern Red Cedar
  • 33. Windbreak Plants
    • Plant a diverse mix of trees – prevent spread of disease and loss to severe weather
    • Eastern Red Cedar, Juniperus virginiana
    • Eastern Hemlock, Tsuga canadensis
    • Northern White Cedar, Thuja occidentalis
    • Eastern White Pine, Pinus strobus
    Eastern Hemlock Northern White Cedar Eastern White Pine
  • 34. Low Water Landscapes Xeriscaping
    • Xeriscaping is a term used for a waterwise, natural landscape using native, drought-tolerant plants.
      • Mulch beds
      • Water only when plants need it
      • Plant trees and shrubs in mass plantings
      • Improve soil structure
      • Reduce runoff
      • Attract pollinators
    Redbud Rudebeckia Salvia
  • 35. Xeriscaping Plant List
    • Ornamental Trees – Redbud, River Birch, Crapemyrtle
    • Shade Trees – Ginkgo, Red Oak, Tupelo, Pin Oak
    • Evergreens – American Holly, Red Cedar, Scotch Pine
    • Deciduous Shrubs – Red Chokeberry, Smoketree, Pinxterbloom Azalea, Rugosa Rose
    • Evergreen Shrubs – Glossy Abelia, Junipers, Northern Bayberry, Cherry Laurel, Pyracantha
    • Herbaceous Plants – Butterfly weed, Bearded Iris, Coral Bells, Yarrow, Coreopsis, Red-Hot Poker, Black Eyed Susan, Sedum, Salvia, Hens and Chicks, Goldenrod, Lamb’s Ear, Purple Coneflower, Salvia, Zinnia, Sage
  • 36. Xeriscaping Plants Butterfly Weed Purple Coneflower Redbud Black Eyed Susan Ginkgo Biloba Sedum Salvia Sage Sedum Image Credit: Stanton Gill
  • 37. Rain Gardens
    • A dish-shaped garden that is planted in native, wetland, wet prairie wildflowers, grasses, trees and shrubs that collect water and recharge the water table, thus preventing polluted runoff.
  • 38. Rain Garden Features
    • Designed to collect water, but not hold it.
    • A berm can be used around the garden to “hold” the water in
    • After a rain event, water will drain within 4-6 days.
    • Attracts birds, dragonflies, beneficial insects, and pollinators.
    • Can be used as a buffer to shoreline areas
  • 39. Plant list for clay soil in full sun
    • Red Milkweed - (Asclepias incarnata)
    • White False Indigo - (Baptista lactea)
    • Blue Flag Iris - (Iris versicolor)
    • Smooth Penstemon - (Penstemon digitalis)
    • Prairie Blazingstar - (Liatris pycnostachya)
    • Wild Quinine – (Parthenium integrifolium)
    • Yellow Coneflower – (Ratibida pinnata)
    • False Aster – (Boltonia asteroides)
    • Sweet Black-Eyed Susan – (Rudbeckia subtomentosa)
    • Ironweed – (Vernonia fasciculata)
    • New England Aster – (Aster novae-angliae)
    • Stiff Goldenrod – (Solidagio rigida)
    • Fox Sedge - (Carex vulpinoidea)
    • *Weems Creek Conservancy
    Blue Flag Iris Prairie Blazingstar Ironweed Wild Quinine Stiff Goldenrod Fox Sedge
  • 40. Plant list for loam to sandy/loam soils in full sun
    • Red Milkweed – (Asclepia incarnata)
    • White False Indigo – (Baptista lactea)
    • Blue Flag Iris – (Iris versicolor)
    • Smooth Penstemon – (Pestemon digitalis)
    • Nodding Pink Onion – (Allium cernuum)
    • Prairie Blazingstar – (Liatris pycnostachya)
    • Wild Quinine – (Parthenium integrifolium)
    • False Aster – (Boltonia asteroides)
    • Sweet Black-Eyed Susan – (Rudbeckia subtomentosa)
    • Ironweed – (Vernonia fasciculata)
    • New England Aster – (Aster novae-angliae)
    • Ohio Goldenrod – (Soldiago ohioensis)
    • Fox Sedge – (Carex vulpinoidea)
    • *Weems Creek Conservancy
    Red Milkweed Smooth Penstemon Nodding Pink Onion
  • 41. Rain Barrels
    • Collect and store roof rainwater runoff
    • Provide a free source of soft water
    • Contains no chlorine, lime or calcium
    • Can help reduce your water bill
    • Can be directed into a garden
    • Easy to build or buy
    Image: Low Impact Development Center
  • 42. Riparian Buffers and Diversion
    • Riparian Buffer is an edge planting towards a stream, creek or body of water slows down and absorbs some run-off and pollutants
    • Diversion is a long earthen embankment built across the slope to direct runoff water from a specific area
  • 43. Helpful References and Websites
    • Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping – U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
    • Conservation Choices for Maryland Farmers – MDA
    • Xeriscaping and Conserving Water in the Landscape – UME Home & Garden Mimeo #HG25
  • 44. Questions?
    • Elaine Long Bailey [email_address]
    • Heather Buritsch [email_address]
    • Shannon Dill [email_address]