Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Convention Center, Exhibit Hall BC, Second Floor
Poultry litter is an excellent source of plant nutrients. However, continuous application of litter beyond crop phosphorus (P) requirements has resulted in the need for transporting litter outside of nutrient dense watersheds. Litter transport is somewhat limited due to the high cost of transportation, which is based on mass. This study was conducted to investigate an alternative litter storage technique for increasing litter degradation, humification, and nutrient density. The enhanced degradation storage process involved use of one ton fresh poultry litter piles constructed every year for three years in Haskell, OK in early spring and sampled prior to field application after eight weeks of degradation. Piles were turned once and brought up to 35 percent moisture; one treatment additionally received alum at a 10 percent rate (by weight). Total litter mass loss was calculated using P concentration as it is a non-gaseous, abundant and easily measured nutrient. Degradation resulted in a 30 to 45 percent loss in mass. Nitrogen loss in the alum treated litter was significantly less when compared to regular degraded litter. Total P increased roughly 50 percent in both degraded litters, while water soluble P for the alum decreased over 60 percent compared to non-treated litter. Use of the enhanced degradation storage techniques, and especially the addition of alum in this process, resulted in improved litter physical properties, increased nutrient density, and reduced mass which ultimately translates into decreased shipping costs per mass unit of nutrient.