Farm Talk

Area Farm & Ranch News

May 28, 2014

SEK poultry litter program announced

The Kansas Department of Agriculture – Division of Conservation has announced a program for landowners using poultry litter as part of their fertilizer program in a 10-county targeted area for poultry litter.

Those counties are Cherokee, Labette, Montgomery, Crawford, Neosho, Wilson, Bourbon, Allen, Woodson and Coffey.

Producers can receive assistance to evaluate acceptable storage sites, cost share for soil sampling fields where poultry litter will be applied and in some cases cost share to determine the nutrient content of the poultry litter.

Additionally, an effort is being made to cost share with at least one person in each of the ten counties to develop a properly sited poultry litter storage area.  

Producers interested in this program could contact their local Conservation District office, county extension agents or Herschel George, KSU Watershed Specialist at Hgeorge@ or 913-294-6021, who will be providing much of the technical assistance for the program.

The use of poultry litter as a fertilizer has been occurring in Kansas for several years. Most of the litter used in Kansas is generated in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri.

Due to increased regulatory restrictions in these neighboring states, production facilities have had to find alternative areas to apply litter.

As you might imagine, much of the litter is coming to Kansas with the majority of the litter concentrating in the southeast corner.

Although the actual quantity is not known, it is estimated that 250,000 to 500,000 tons of litter are imported into Kansas annually.

The poultry litter is being purchased by Kansas producers to offset the cost of commercial fertilizer. Poultry litter, when applied at the correct level, can provide excellent fertilizer for farm fields and can provide additional valuable micronutrients to the soil.

The nutrient of greatest concern in poultry litter is phosphorus; applications of poultry litter should be based on crop phosphorus needs. Applications of litter based on the nitrogen needs of the crop generally result in an excess application of phosphorus.

The nutrient concentration in poultry litter varies from each type of operation, feeding regime and in each production house. Sampling the litter to test the nutrient concentration is recommended.  

Best management

practices for storage

One of the biggest challenges with poultry litter is ensuring it is stored properly. Producers that use litter should stockpile the material on sites with very little slope and away from streams, road ditches and wells. To avoid nuisance complaints, storage should occur away from homes and frequently used structures. Covering the stockpile can help prevent the volatilization of nitrogen, thereby preserving the maximum value of the product.

Because of the nature of the litter, precipitation runoff from storage piles and from fields can quickly create nutrient overloading in surface waters of Kansas.

Best management

practices for application

Producers are encouraged to take representative soil samples from their  fields prior to applying poultry litter in order to know how much phosphorus is needed. Local county extension agents can assist with recommendations. To make an accurate recommendation, producers should obtain a nutrient analysis of the litter.

Applications rates should be based on the amount of phosphorus in the litter needed to supply the nutrients required by the crop(s).

The litter should be incorporated into the soil as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hour of application.

Soil samples for a field should be taken at regular intervals every 1 to 2 years or prior to each application of poultry litter and monitored for any buildup of phosphorous and other nutrients. Additional litter should not be applied to fields that have soil test phosphorus levels at or above 50 ppm.

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    May 28, 2014

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