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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Waste Management

Alternative Poultry Litter Storage for Improved Transportation and Use as a Soil Amendment


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 40 No. 1, p. 233-241
    Received: June 14, 2010

    * Corresponding author(s): chad.penn@okstate.edu
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  1. Chad J. Penn *a,
  2. Jeffery Vitalea,
  3. Scott Finea,
  4. Joshua Paynea,
  5. Jason G. Warrena,
  6. Hailin Zhanga,
  7. Margaret Eastmana and
  8. Sheri L. Herronb
  1. a Oklahoma State Univ., Stillwater, OK 74078
    b S.L. Herron, BMPs Inc. Assigned to Associate Editor Xiying Hao.


Transportation of poultry litter out of nutrient limited watersheds such as the Illinois River basin (eastern Oklahoma) is a logical solution for minimizing phosphorus (P) losses from soils to surface waters. Transportation costs are based on mass of load and distance transported. This study investigated an alternative litter storage technique designed to promote carbon (C) degradation, thereby concentrating nutrients for the purpose of decreasing transportation costs through decreased mass. Poultry litter was stored in 0.90-Mg conical piles under semipermeable tarps and adjusted to 40% moisture content, tested with and without addition of alum (aluminum sulfate). An additional study was conducted using 3.6-Mg piles under the same conditions, except tested with and without use of aeration pipes. Samples were analyzed before and after (8 wk) storage. Litter mass degradation (i.e., loss in mass due to organic matter decomposition) was estimated on the basis of changes in litter total P contents. Additional characterization included pH, total nutrients, moisture content, total C, and degree of humification. Litter storage significantly decreased litter mass (16 to 27%), concentrated nutrients such as P and potassium (K) and increased proportion of fulvic and humic acids. The addition of aeration pipes increased mass degradation relative to piles without aeration pipes. Nitrogen volatilization losses were minimized with alum additions. Increases in P and K concentrations resulted in greater monetary value per unit mass compared with fresh litter. Such increases translate to increased litter shipping distance and cost savings of $17.2 million over 25 yr for litter movement out of eastern Oklahoma.

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Copyright © 2011. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyAmerican Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America