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Alternative Poultry Litter Storage for Improved Transportation and Use as a Soil Amendment

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For more: http://www.extension.org/67672 Transportation of poultry litter out of nutrient limited watersheds such as the Illinois River basin (eastern Oklahoma) is a logical solution for minimizing phosphorus (P) losses from soils to surface waters. Transportation costs are based on mass of load and distance transported. This study investigated an alternative litter storage technique designed to promote carbon (C) degradation, thereby concentrating nutrients for the purpose of decreasing transportation costs through decreased mass. Poultry litter was stored in 0.90-Mg conical piles under semipermeable tarps and adjusted to 40% moisture content, tested with and without addition of alum (aluminum sulfate).
An additional study was conducted.

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Alternative Poultry Litter Storage for Improved Transportation and Use as a Soil Amendment

  1. 1. Alternative Poultry Litter Storage Techniques for Improved Handling, Transportation,And Use as a Soil Amendment.Chad Penn, Jeff Vitale, Scott Fine, Josh Payne, Jason Warren, and Hailin Zhang: Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OKBackgroundExperimental Design Fresh poultry litter from western Arkansas was transported to EasternOklahoma Research Station in Haskell, OK. Two one ton (2000 lbs) cone shaped piles were constructed every year forthree years. Placed inside a covered shed and each pile covered by its own tarp.• One pile constructed of fresh litter and other mixed with aluminumsulfate (alum) at a rate of ten percent based on dry weight.• Both piles were then brought up to 35 percent moisture.• Four weeks into process both piles were mixed manuallyby hand and re-covered.• Litter samples were collected prior to and after the 8week degradation process for analysis of: pH Electrical Conductivity (EC) Total Nitrogen (TN) Total Carbon (TC) Humification Index (HI = NH/HA+FA) Total nutrients Bulk Density Mass Loss (Calculated by the average concentration of stableelements P and K)ResultsThe use of poultry litter as a substitute for inorganic commercial fertilizer in modernagronomic processes has gained interest since the price of inorganic fertilizersincreased dramatically. Yet, there still is a significant limit to the economicfeasibility of transporting poultry litter from phosphorous (P) rich watersheds ineastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas to producers in need. Degradation process resulted in a more humified productas carbon was transformed into more recalcitrant formbased on the carbon fractionation and C NMR. Both treatments resulted in appreciable reductions inmass (19% or greater) plus a darker color, less odor, andmore uniform texture. Although some N loss did occur due to volatilization, thealum treated litter retained more N than normal litter. Litter total P and K concentrations increased with thedegradation storage process; final moisture content was notsignificantly different from fresh litterDiscussion One potential solution is degradation of litter via compost piles to reduce the massof the litter while increasing nutrient concentration. Common problems associated with traditional composting is increase of carbon (C)to nitrogen (N) ratio and additional input cost and labor. Alternative: less intensive low-input degradation process. Aluminum sulfate (alum) application is additional option to improve degradationresults (N retention). Developing a simple low input degradation system for poultry litter could greatlyincrease litter value as a fertilizer source on an equal mass basis and reducetransportation costs.Conclusions and Implications The alternative low-input storage method designed to promote degradation caused a reduction in litter mass which resulted ina more nutrient dense end product allowing for more economical transport of degraded litter compared to fresh litter: Amounts to roughly 17 million $ increase in economic benefit over fresh litter transportation in OK after 25 years. Based on the N, P, and K concentrations, degraded litter is worth on average 11% more than fresh litter per unit mass. Alum increased the N retention of the low-input degradation system, but was not economically feasible. The use of the alternative litter storage technique can improve the efficiency of transport for these valuable nutrients out ofOklahoma’s susceptible nutrient dense watersheds and into the nutrient deficient croplands across Oklahoma..Oklahoma broiler litterproduction (upper) andagricultural phosphorusdemand (lower)Objectives: (i) Quantify the ability of a low input degradation process to reduce litter mass andincrease nutrient concentration; (ii) compare alum amended poultry to non-amended degraded litter.Litter degradation piles after 8 weeksVisual comparison of degraded and freshpoultry litterFigure 2: Humification Index (HI = non humic / humic acid +fulvic acid) of Fresh and Degraded Normal Litter. Decrease inHI indicates a more humified product.Table 1: Poultry litter characteristics (dry basis) before andafter degradation after the alternative litter storage method.Figure 1: Economic benefit of transportation of degradedlitter relative to fresh litter.Fresh LitterDegraded NormalLitter Production(tons litter per county)0 - 5051 - 100101 - 500501 - 1,0001,001 - 50,000Phosphorus Demand(tons per county)0-1,0001,001 - 5,0005,001-10,00010,001-25,00025,001-50,000<all other values>Litter TreatmentMassReduction* pH TC TN Total K Total P% % % mg kg-1Pre-degraded - 8.6 43.2 4.7 33354 17518Normal degraded 19.6 8.8 36.5 4.3 40826 22208Alum degraded 23 8 34.3 4.6 40570 20295LSD‡‡ 2.7 0.37 7.0 0.31 4295 1769