By Glen Arnold, OSU Extension
Stockpiles of poultry litter can be seen in farm fields across Ohio. While common each year in wheat stubble fields, there also many stockpiles in soybean fields. Poultry litter is an excellent source of plant nutrients and readily available in most parts of the state.
Poultry litter can be from laying hens, pullets, broilers, finished turkeys, turkey hens, or poults. Most of the poultry litter in the state comes from laying hens and turkey finishers. Typical nutrient ranges in poultry litter can be from 45 to 57 pounds of nitrogen, 45 to 70 pounds of P2O5, and 45 to 55 pounds of K2O per ton. The typical application rate is two tons per acre which fits nicely with the P2O5 needs of a two-year corn/soybean rotation.
Like all manure sources, the moisture content of the poultry litter greatly influences the amount of nutrients per ton. Handlers of poultry litter have manure analysis sheets indicating the nutrient content. They are also required to inspect stockpiles and address any insect issues that may develop from the time stockpiles are created to the time the manure is field applied.
Poultry manure for permitted operations needs to follow the Natural Resource Conservation Service 590 standards when being stockpiled prior to spreading. These include:
- 500 feet from neighbors
- 300 feet from streams, grassed waterways, wells, ponds, or tile inlets
- not on occasionally or frequently flooded soils
- stored for no more than eight months
- not located on slopes greater than six percent
- located on soils that are deep to bedrock (greater than 40 inches to bedrock)
Farmers who want to apply the poultry litter delivered to their fields are required by Ohio law to have a fertilizer license, Certified Livestock Manager certificate, or be a Certified Crop Advisor. Check with your local Soil and Water Conservation District for proper setbacks from streams, ditches, and wells when applying poultry litter.