How to Spread Manure and Compost without a Spreader

Manure in Bins

Since KCD has suspended the Equipment Share Program, we thought we would share some additional ideas for how to deal with a winter stockpile of excess manure and compost.

If you need to empty your manure bin to make room, here are a few options:

  1. Empty bin and stockpile compost in a safe spot, away from water, and cover with a tarp. Make sure to weight the edges down so the tarp doesn’t fly away with the wind. This will also allow the pile to decompose and likely reduce in size.
  2. If you have a tractor, load the bucket with compost and head to the field. Then gently nudge the bucket control arm to “sprinkle” manure over the field. You might need to follow up with a harrow to spread any unevenness. A key tip is to not drive the same path each time to avoid compaction in the tractor tracks.
  3. With no tractor, load the back of trailer or pickup truck. Carefully drive into the field and park. Hop into the bed of the truck or trailer and toss compost out with a manure fork, pitch fork or shovel. Please be safe and use your back and arms in a good farm fit posture to avoid injury. When you each area is covered with a reasonable amount of material, move the truck to the next spot and repeat.
  4. Another pickup truck option is to walk behind a slow-moving pickup and pull out the manure/compost and spread as you go. It is not recommended to ride in the bed of the pickup and toss out at you go due to the risk of falling from a moving vehicle.
  5. Make a large raised bed and plant veggies. Keep in mind that you might need to allow the material to break down further. Cover with tarp until ready to plant starts or seeds. Standards call for a 120-day interval between the application of raw manure for crops in contact with the soil and 90 days for crops not in contact with the soil. No waiting time is required for properly prepared compost. For more information on using manure with crops, visit Raw Manure under the FSMA Final Rule on Produce Safety.
  6. Spread your material as mulch in your landscaped areas around your yard. Even your lawn could use a little more amendment this time of year.

Here are some other helpful resources to keep in mind:

KCD Manure Match

KCD Manure Management Overview (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

King County: Manure Management

King County: Manure Management

WSU Extension Puyallup: Manure | Soil Management

Snohomish Conservation District: Horse Manure and Bedding: What Can I Do With It?

WSU Whatcom Soil and Compost

Washington State Board of Health – Keeping of AnimalsReport

Washington State Department of Ecology: What you can do to manage animal waste

If you have other creative ideas, please e-mail We will share a follow-up blog post to share more information. Together well get through this!

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