Poultry Litter Options

— Written By James Parsons and last updated by

 Land application of poultry litter for crop and hay production is the primary method of disposal for this litter. When land-applying litter, numerous requirements must be met. The Division of Water Resources provided the following summary of Dry Litter Poultry Requirements.

 (1) All dry litter operations over 30,000 birds are required to develop and maintain a Waste Utilization Plan. The plan must contain a list of fields that will be used for land application, the crops that will be grown, and the maximum application rate of each field.

(2) Litter shall not be stockpiled within 100 feet of perennial streams or wells.

(3 Litter shall not be left uncovered for more than 15 days. (Note that even if the requirements of #2 and #3 are met, it is the responsibility of the hauler to make sure that there is no discharge to waters of the State.

(4) For land application, a setback of 25 feet from perennial streams must be maintained.

(5) Litter shall not be applied at rates that do not exceed the agronomic rate of the receiving crop. The rates may be based on NCDA&CS soil test recommendations or NRCS (Realistic Yield Expectations).

(6) Litter shall be sampled as close to the time of application as practical, but at least within 60 days of the land application event. If manure (litter) is given or sold to a 3rd party, it is still the responsibility of the generator to conduct the waste analysis, and provide a copy to the 3rd party hauler/farmer.

(7) Soil samples of the receiving fields must be taken every three years.

 (8) Record keeping for dry poultry litter. All records shall be kept for three years, including but not limited to:

1. Soil test and waste analysis results
2. Land application records
3. Records of litter sold or given to a 3rd party. For litter that is given to a 3rd party, the following information must be maintained.

a   Amount of litter removed
b. Date litter was removed
c. Name, address, and phone number of the manure hauler.

(9) Lime shall be applied to fields as specified by the Soil Test Report to assure suitable conditions for crop growth.

(10) Litter application must be stopped on a field if copper and zinc concentrations reach an Index level of 3,000.

(11) When litter is given to a 3rd party, the following requirements apply:

a. Recordkeeping requirements in #8 above
b. A copy of the current waste analysis must be provided to the 3rd party
c. Provide a copy of these guidelines to the 3rd party

 For dry litter operations that give away/sell all litter to a 3rd party or hauler:

 If the 3rd party applies to land that is owned by the litter generator, then that land must be included in the litter generator’s Waste Utilization Plan.

 If the 3rd party hauls all litter away, and applies it to other 3rd party fields, then the litter generator does not need to have fields listed in the Waste Utilization Plan. In this case, a plan is still needed. The plan would be similar to the format suggested in #1 above, but it would just state that all litter is hauled away.

Another requirement not listed above is that litter can only be applied to a growing crop, to a field that will be planted within 30 days, or to a crop that will break dormancy within 30 days. This application window has resulted in many farmers stockpiling litter and has resulted in complaints to the Division of Water Resources. Please see #3 above.

As you can see, numerous requirements are in place for land applying poultry litter. My Poultry Specialized Advisory Committee has for many years identified finding an alternative use for poultry litter as a need facing poultry farmers.

Hopefully, an alternative use for poultry litter is on the way. I am currently working with several companies that need poultry litter as a fuel source to generate electricity and/or steam. Either of these companies will pay a per-ton fee for litter, provide year round acceptance of litter (no need to worry about stockpiling litter and application windows), implement strict biosecurity procedures, and basically serve as your nutrient management plan. The only things you would need to complete your Waste Utilization Plan are the required cover sheet, maintain record form DRY 1, and a signed contract with either company.

If you would like more information on either of these companies, please feel free to call me, James Parsons, at 910-296-2143.