Agriculture

Poultry Litter Storage Best Practices

poultry litter Did you know there’s a valuable by-product that can help local farmers enhance soil fertility and increase output of row crops, hay fields and pastures? This by-product, commonly found in the Potomac Valley region of the state, is known simply as poultry litter.

Before making the purchase for your farm, there are a couple things to consider regarding storage to protect the quality of both your investment and the surrounding water resources.

Tom Basden, a West Virginia University Extension Service Specialist in nutrient management, says that farmers should store litter away from property lines so neighbors are not impacted by odors, and, if possible, locate the storage area on a well-drained field above the floodplain or on a hilltop.

“It is best to store poultry litter in a roofed structure that meets the United States Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources Conservation Service practice standard for waste storage.” advises Basden.

However, if a roofed structure is not available, open or field storage can be an option for your farm. This method of keeping poultry litter out in the open on your property does come with some limitations set forth by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture to protect water from soil, waste and nutrient contamination:

  • The poultry litter must be covered with a tarpaulin if you are storing it for a time greater than 15 days.
  • The litter must be stored 100 feet away from wells and 50 feet away from surface water and open portals (sinkholes).
  • The litter cannot be stored on a slope greater than 15 percent without diverting runoff water above the storage area.
  • The storage area should also not be situated on floodplains because of proximity to surface streams, seasonally high water tables, and loss of litter from a 25-year, 24-hour storm event.

Following these suggestions can help you get the most out of your litter while keeping the surrounding water clean.

WVU Extension Service offers additional information on setting up a storage area for your property, advice in transporting poultry litter to your farm, or general information regarding poultry litter. Contact your local county office of the WVU Extension Service for more information.