Dealing with Drainage Issues in the Pacific NorthwestManaging the wet environment in the Pacific Northwest can be challenging. During winter excessive rain fall makes mud, an especially unpleasant reality for many horse owners. Mud is not just a nuisance; it creates an unhealthy environment for horses. Mud harbors bacteria, fungal organisms and other pathogens that cause abscesses, scratches, rain scald and thrush. The effects of repeated wet/dry conditions are damaging to hoof structure and can cause general unthriftiness. Mud is a breeding ground for insects, such as cullicoides (“no-see-ums”), filth flies and mosquitoes. Insects are not only annoying; they can carry diseases and can cause allergic reactions. When fed on muddy ground, horses can ingest dirt or sand particles with hay, leading to sand colic, a very serious digestive order. Plus, mud creates a slick, unsafe footing, increasing the risk of injury (for horses and humans). Besides the health issues for horses, every horse person knows that muddy conditions make every day chores difficult. Flies and the appearance of mud also lowers the desirability of a property for customers and neighbors. Mud wreaks havoc on surrounding areas as well, muddying precious water sources. Once soil and manure has mixed with water to make mud, it can easily be carried into nearby streams or lakes. Sediment can smother trout and salmon eggs, destroy habitat for insects (a food source for fish) and cover prime spawning areas. Many pollutants, like the nutrients in manure, are also likely to attach to soil particles and be carried into the water.
What You Can Do - Direct and Slow the FlowThere are several ways to manage mud and the primary principle is to direct and slow the flow. If you already have gutters and downspouts on barns and out-buildings and footing in confinement areas but rain is still flowing into confinement areas you may need to consider installing some type of drainage system to divert away surface water flowing towards your barn. When tackling drainage think “slow the flow.” The best and easiest way to reduce surface water is to slow it down. Many times just slowing water down will allow it to infiltrate back into the ground--perhaps all that’s needed to solve a drainage issue. This also helps recharge the natural hydrology of your property including ground water.Each of these techniques can be useful for keeping clean rainwater out of your paddock and reducing mud:• French drain lines• Diversion ditches• Water bars (like a speed bump for water runoff)• Swales (gently sloping depressions or grass-lined waterways) • Dry wells Divert the clean surface water away from your high traffic areas to someplace else on your property where it can soak back into the ground. Possibilities include an unused corner of your pasture, a section of woods, a grassy swale or other well-vegetated areas. Never divert to an existing water body as the amount of added water can drastically and unnaturally change water levels. When water levels go up quickly, that increases turbidity and important fish habitat is often ruined or destroyed. NWHSPhoto: French drain, courtesy of Alayne Blickle
Published in April 2013 Issue
Fact Versus Fiction for Marketing EffectivelyFiction: It’s easy to decide where and how to promote your business for the best results. Fact: You must promote your equine business if you’re going to make a living. Fiction: These days, the best advertising can be had for free on Craigslist and Facebook. Fact: The most effective advertising is part of carefully thought out goals and a business plan.Fiction: All your business needs is a website and it doesn’t matter who does it (Your brother-in-law/sister-in-law can probably configure something with cool horsey wall paper. Add a contact button and Pay Pal, you’ll be considered “professional”).Fact: Well-designed display ads and websites are still an important part of branding.Fiction: You won’t need to spend money on a good ad.Fact: Poorly designed ads do more harm than good.Many advertisers in the horse industry struggle with decisions related to advertising and getting the most “bang for their buck.” Two common questions are: How do I know I’m spending my money wisely and how do I measure results or my return on investment?While it is incredibly easy to consume an advertising budget (if you even have one), it can be difficult to decide where to spend your money. Strategic promotion is part of successful equine related businesses. The biggest challenge is to identify if you’re going in the right direction. Here are 5 ways to know if you advertising choices are working for you:1) You’re busy and making money.2) You have a steady flow of leads coming in.3) The right clientele' is calling you. This means you've targeted the right market.4) You’re enjoying your work.5) You’re making a difference for your clients and getting referrals.What are some causes if you’re NOT getting the desired response?1) You’re not selling the right product or service.2) You don’t know your USP (Unique Selling Proposition); your product or service is commonplace.3) You spend very little time working on your advertising or marketing plan (or don’t even have one). Your ads are always a last minute creation.4) You’re advertising in the wrong place or not at all.5) You’ve only tried one advertising venue.6) Your website needs attention.7) You’ve lost focus and keep trying different things without giving one project enough time to grow and develop.8) You didn’t advertise long enough.9) Poor ad design or photos.10) You don’t have good people skills.We’re all busy and trying to do everything on our own. It seems only the large companies hire media buyers to make the choices for them. Regardless, you still have to spend the time to determine what your goals are and develop a plan of action. Let me just touch on a few of these reasons you may not be getting the desired results.You’re not selling the right product or service. Just because YOU like the widget or method of training or service does not mean it’s marketable. Have you looked at how many other people are using your methods or selling the same products?You don’t know your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). What makes your company or product special? What makes it different from the competition? If you’re selling the same product as the next guy you’ll have a much tougher time getting people interested in what you have. Have you gathered friends and colleagues to see if your product or service is a hit?You spend very little time working on your marketing plan and/or your business plan. You may not even have one. What? How can you expect something to work if you invest little time and energy into it. There are so many resources out there it’s no excuse for not taking a little time to invest in your business. Here’s a couple of articles that may prove helpful: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/220148# or http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/starting-business/how-write-business-planYou’re advertising in the wrong place or not at all. First of all if you’re not advertising somewhere you’re off to a bad start. You have to understand who your client is and where to reach them. Then you can start researching the best place to put your ads so they draw in leads for you. If you have NO presence in the industry how do you expect people to find you?You’ve only tried one advertising venue. If you’ve only advertised one place and not seen results you have to remember that it takes people an average of 7 times to see an advertisement for it to even register. So you’ve run one ad and have gotten no calls that’s to be expected. If you’re running an ad for a particular event you need to get it out there several different ways and places. Display ads are still a very important part of branding, but you need a good website to send people to for more information. Put it on a calendar of events, run in, run it online or see if there’s a package you can buy that gives you print, web, email and social media exposure. You can also prepare press releases for your business, event or product and distribute to the media.Your website needs attention. You’re website is poorly designed and needs to be updated. You have old outdated information online. You’ve done nothing to optimize your traffic or you’re driving the wrong kind of traffic to your site. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is an important strategy in your business plan. It’s not about the flashiest or prettiest gadgets but the information you’re providing on your site. Does it meet the needs of your clients? Is the information easy to find? See your site rankings on www.alexa.com. OR evaluate your site on http://marketing.grader.com/site/www.hubspot.comYou’ve lost focus: You have a hard time sticking with one piece of your plan or new ideas keep distracting you. Give the current ideas on your marketing plan a chance to develop and grow before dropping them and moving on to something new. Know what outcome you’re looking for.You don’t advertise long enough. You’ve run one ad, gotten no response so you quit. Frequency is more important than size so if you have a limited budget run a smaller ad more frequently. Discuss your expectations with your advertising rep. Get some details on what you can expect from your ad campaign.Poor ad design. A poorly designed ad with poor quality images will do more harm than good. Spend a little money on a good photographer and let a professional design your ad. It’s money far better spent than letting your best friend who just bought a computer design your ad. You’re spending good money on ad space don’t skimp on the quality of the ad.Poor people skills. Okay…so perhaps your ad gets you a call. When you answer the phone be pleasant; don’t treat the caller as if they’re an intrusion on your day. No ad will work if they can’t reach you or you aren’t prepared when they call. Respond to email promptly (at least the same day). The faster you can answer the question the more satisfied they will be. In this age of technology there’s no reason you can’t respond in a reasonable amount of time.There are many reasons that we feel that our advertising may not be working. Ask the magazine representative (or online rep) what you can expect when you advertise. Let them be your expert in helping you design a program that fits your needs and budget. Be sure you have a plan of action and are prepared to answer the caller’s questions with confidence and accuracy. Before you call be sure and have some information available for discussion. For instance:• Know your annual budget. Be reasonable. Expect to spend at least 1% of your expected gross revenue.• Have a basic ad layout in mind. List the key elements written out on a document.• Download their rates before you call. • Know the media’s distribution numbers or online traffic numbers. You can usually find this information from their website or by running their website through one of the resources in the “Your Website Needs Attention” paragraph. The biggest mistake made when evaluating publications is comparison on price only. You’re better off to run in a quality publication and spend more than to just look for the cheapest price and settle there. Be sure you’ve researched their distribution, web presence, content quality and reputation in the industry. Do a little research! You may actually get more for your print ad than what you think. Be sure to find out what comes with your print ad buy. Many publications are combining digital editions, online advertising, additional editorial and more as a perk of advertising with their company.Coming up: Are you really saving money by online advertising only?How to have a successful print ad campaignGenerating revenue from FacebookWhere’s the best place to advertise my business?Why do I need to create a press release for my business?Other resources:Display Advertising by the numbersPriming the Pipeline: Creating Awareness, Conversions & Sales The Northwest Horse Source is the largest freely distributed equine publication in the Northwest shipping 19,500 copies to over 680 locations each month. With an online digital edition and more informational resources online this is the best one stop resource for horse owners in the Northwest. Its all-breed, all-discipline educational content provides new information each month for tips on caring for your horse, riding techniques and quality content for successful horse ownership. It’s coverage through print, online, e-newsletter and a social media presence provide a great audience for horse related companies to share their products with this large, targeted readership. For details visit www.nwhorsesource.com,
or call 360-332-5579.
Did you know that composted bedding could be put back to work in your horse stalls as an alternative to wood shavings or pellets? The Snohomish Conservation District worked with several commercial equine facilities in Snohomish County and received funding from the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program to test composted bedding for horses.
Composted bedding is darker in color than shavings or pellets, and slightly moist. It is light and fluffy with a pleasant earthy smell and is very absorbent. Compared to wood shavings or pellets, compost significantly reduces dust and allergens in the stall. Preliminary results show that some horses with skin and respiratory allergies respond very well to the composted bedding, and have reduced symptomsFor more about this project, please watch our new video! VIDEO: Newsletter Article: http://www.betterground.org/2012-spring-nexus/Submitted byCaitlin PriceFarm PlannerSnohomish Conservation District425-335-5634 x 4www.snohomishcd.org
By Lori Branson
After many years working as a private contractor in the construction and landscape industry, Peter Ware president and owner of Northwest Gridworks LLC began working within the equestrian field building barns, paddocks, fences, etc. With many clients looking for a better way to resolve their mud issues Peter began researching and found a grid mat system made overseas for mud and erosion control. After a few years of installing and becoming familiar with this type of product, it was clear there was a dire need in this area for a more effective, affordable, readily available and locally made mud control product. Peter also wanted to make a product that would be eco-friendly to the environment and engineered and designed to be stronger per square foot. We believe we have achieved our goal of creating a superior mud control product in the design and product development of “EcoGreenGrid your mud control solution.”
EcoGreenGrid is a tough, durable interlocking plastic grid mat system designed to provide turf protection, ground reinforcement and erosion control, therein resolving muddy problem areas. EcoGreenGrid comes in pre-assembled, lightweight 3ft x 4ft layers for easy handling and installation. Pieces can be easily taken apart and put together to create any shape required (like a giant puzzle). EcoGreenGrid can be used in barn areas, stalls, paddocks, driveways, parking areas, and landscape pathways to create a permanent mud free solution. EcoGreenGrid is considered a permeable pavement, but unlike concrete is ecologically sustainable, environmentally friendly and also strong enough to drive tractors and large trucks onto. It is made from 100% recycled polypropylene plastic that has been engineered and designed to give you a stronger and more durable product per square foot that will last a lifetime. The design is based on the snowshoe principle, which allows for more weight to be evenly distributed throughout creating a very strong and stable area that will not sink down and that allows for drainage.
Installation is easy! First put down a three inch layer of gravel in the muddy area you are working in and then compact it using a hand or power plate compactor. Once you have the area compacted and level you can begin laying down the EcoGreenGrid in the prepared area. Next you are ready to fill the EcoGreenGrid mat with gravel (quarter or half inch). Fill, compact and cover the top until the Grid is completely out of sight, rake out evenly and you’re finished. We have developed installation videos that can be viewed on Youtube at Eco Green grid install and on facebook at Eco Greengrid.
Northwest Gridworks is proud to be manufacturing EcoGreenGrid locally out of Washougal WA. EcoGreenGrid is available at a wholesale price to business owners, contractors and farm & feed stores. Farm & Feed stores currently retailing EcoGreenGrid include: Ag West in Rickreall, OR; Grange Supply in Issaquah, WA; Monroe Farm and Feed in Monroe, WA, and Elma Farm and Feed Supply in Elma, WA. If there is not a store in your area yet you can buy directly from us by calling Peter at 503-975-0141 or contact us via email at
Northwest Gridworks will be at the upcoming Northwest Horse Fair and Expo in Albany, March 21-24, 2013. Come and see, touch and walk on our display of EcoGreenGrid. We will be offering a special discounted price at this event. We look forward to seeing you there and answering any questions you have.
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