How to manage a poultry nutrient plan
Poultry litter (manure) is an excellent source of plant nutrients and can be a part of most farm nutrient management programs. The term poultry ''litter'' applies to all dry forms of poultry manure regardless of the presence or absence of any type of bedding material. Currently there are no poultry liquid manure handling systems (lagoons) in Tennessee. When using poultry litter as a plant nutrient source, a nutrient management plan should be developed to match crop nutritional requirements with nutrients available in the litter. Also, using best management practices outlined in the nutrient management plan will help prevent any surface water and ground water contamination. In addition, the nutrient management plan will assist poultry farmers in estimating the acres of cropland needed to use litter at appropriate agronomic rates. The poultry nutrient management plan uses nitrogen as the limiting nutrient. In the plan, you must consider realistic yields of crops you grow, crop nutrient requirements and proper timing of litter application to maximise nutrient uptake. If soil tests indicate the existence of extremely high levels of phosphorous and potassium, you should consider limiting further use of poultry litter as a fertiliser.
The plan is based on typical litter production rates and average litter nutrient contents for a specific type poultry facility. As you begin obtaining litter analysis results, an average litter nutrient content can be developed for your farm operation. Remember, actual litter production and litter nutrient values from your farm may vary over time. Implementation of a plan based on actual litter analysis may be more economical.
The plan takes into account that many poultry farmers may sell litter, give litter away or feed litter to cattle. Be sure to record the tonnes of litter that leave your farm. People or firms removing litter from a poultry farm can be held responsible for the proper handling, storage and application of the poultry litter. Although not required, you may want the person or firm that removes the litter from your farm to sign an agreement indicating management practices that should be followed to ensure the litter is being used in an environmentally friendly manner.
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Article made possible through the contribution of University of Tennessee Extension.