By Lauren R. Giannini
Shelly Moore Townsend has designed a unique and environmentally sound solution for manure management: Equine Eco Green. Her unique process of “recycling” will eliminate mountains of manure in equestrian communities like Palm Beach and Wellington. It’ll also generate income and create jobs. It’s a win-win solution to a growing problem.
One horse produces about 30 pounds of manure and 2.4 gallons of urine — about 50 pounds of waste every day. The more horses in one place, the more it adds up. For example, 3,000 horses in the course of one month in Wellington will use about 60,000 bags of shavings and produce more than 2.7 million pounds of manure. That’s a lot of doody.
Shelly’s patented process recycles, reclaims, reduces and reuses equine waste. The how-to hit her when she started looking at the components. Horse manure makes great compost, but what about the shavings …
“Wood is a cellulose material and, like clothing, can be washed,” said Shelly.
Wash dirty bedding from a horse’s stall? Yes, absolutely, and it works. By treating the shavings as a textile, Shelly designed a system that separates the manure and washes the shavings. Then, the shavings are dried.
“I had to figure out the formulas and the details of the process,” said Shelly. “The first time I did it, it worked. From there it was a matter of testing it and making it even better. In fact, the process has been tweaked and simplified even further, which reduces the capital cost drastically to get started.”
Shelly has several companies on board for the shavings dryer, composting and the final organic compost product itself.
With BW Organics’ in-vessel composters, the entire composting process takes place in 3 to 6 days. During that time, the site manager has precise control of moisture, temperature and aeration. Within 24 hours of the composter being started, raw waste loses all odors. These specially constructed in-vessel composters create a finished product that’s ready for bagging for retail sales — no added chemicals, suitable for the greenest thumbs.
“I have a large contract with Black Gold Compost Company (BGCC) for three years,” said Shelly. “BGCC is owned by Michael Lange and his father. They too believe in my business.”
Dale Romans, who trains Thoroughbred racehorses, views Shelly’s system as a viable solution for manure management. He has discussed Equine Eco Green with horsemen and track officials at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
“Manure removal is a major problem for the entire horse industry. It’s also a financial problem,” said Dale. “Shelly’s system needs to be looked at closely.”
Shelly has scouted four suitable locations for Equine Eco Green, close enough to Wellington, but far enough from development. She learned the importance of picking the right location from being involved in her family’s farming, lumber and poultry business. She’s also a lifelong horseperson and understands very well the concerns of horse people about her recycle and re-use system.
“My system works, it leaves no residue in the shavings after they’re washed — no ammonia, no nitrogen, no traces of paste wormer or other medications eliminated by the horses,” said Shelly. “Washing reduces phenols, natural volatile chemicals found in wood. Shavings can be washed and re-sold a number of times before they become fuel for the dryer.”
The Equine Eco Green process is brilliant even as it meets business criteria in an ethical way. It permits removal of horse waste at a discount, then turns the waste into profitable products, recycled bedding and organic compost. Equine Eco Green also reduces the carbon footprint and lowers the rate of deforestation, answering the call for more awareness and stewardship toward the environment. It’ll generate revenue and profit investors. It’ll solve manure management problems.
“Todd Minikus has been active on my behalf, speaking to people about Equine Eco Green,” continued Shelly. “He’s been my biggest supporter since I started and has believed in the process since day one.”
It’ll cost $2.5 million to get Equine Eco Green up and running. The ROI (return on investment) is just under 3.5 years. Profits and products. Sustainable manure management. No more run-off from manure piles polluting ground water, and no more illegal dumping in canals. Win-win all the way.
“Shelly has come up with a fantastic solution to some of the problems that we should address as professional horse people,” said Todd, a show jumping veteran with more than 30 years of success over big, painted fences. “This is as green as it gets and a great solution to the manure problem.”
The bottom line belongs to Shelly: “I’m as sure about Equine Eco Green as Penny Chenery was that Secretariat would win the Triple Crown.”