Proper handling and storage of poultry litter is needed to preserve its nutrient value and prevent contamination of surface and ground water, particularly when the litter cannot be directly applied to land. Improper handling and storage of poultry litter can result in:
- Loss of fertilizer nutrients
- Contamination of surface and/or ground water
- Potential for spread of poultry diseases
- Odor and aesthetic problems
With a little advance planning and minimal investment, these problems can be reduced or eliminated.
It is important to follow any and all national, state, county and city regulations with regards to disposal of waste material.
The most efficient method of handling poultry litter is to directly apply it to fields as it is being removed from the house. This reduces labor, expense and potential environmental problems. This requires cleanout when weather and crop conditions are favorable for applying litter. For cropland, this time will be in the spring before the crop is planted, or in the fall after the crop has been harvested if a small grain or cover crop is to be planted. Application of poultry litter to cropland during the winter should be avoided because the efficient use of nutrients will be low and the potential for water contamination is increased.
Apply poultry litter only in amounts needed to supply the nutrient requirements of the crop to be grown. Have soil samples from the fields that are to have litter applied tested to obtain lime and nutrient recommendations for the crops to be grown. Also, send a representative litter sample to a laboratory for analysis. See Extension publications AGR-146 for more details on how to calculate the amounts of litter that should be applied.
Using animal manures as nutrient sources (University of Kentucky)
Sampling animal manure (University of Kentucky)
Livestock waste sampling and testing (University of Kentucky)
Nutrient management in Kentucky (University of Kentucky)
Nutrient management planning guidelines to comply with the Kentucky Agriculture Water Quality Act (University of Kentucky)
Managing nutrients on the farm to protect water quality (University of Kentucky)
The agronomics of using manure for crop production (University of Kentucky)