The use of poultry litter can contribute to reduced fertilizer input costs for many farmers, depending on the price and transportation expense, according to research by Kansas State University (KSU) nutrition management specialist Dorivar Ruiz-Diaz and colleagues.
Moisture content and nutrient concentration in poultry litter can be highly variable, depending on production conditions, storage and handling methods. Lab analysis is the best way to determine the level of nitrogen and phosphorus in the material to be applied, he says. A lab analysis provides information regarding nutrient levels, as well as the chemical forms of these nutrients.
The table below presents average values for different types of poultry manure collected for a period of time in Kansas. There is a large range in nutrient values, likely due to the source of the litter. A good sample average would be 55-55-47 for Kansas.
While poultry litter might represent significant savings, farmers also need to consider the "hassle factor" of using it. Reliable delivery, storage site location, uniform application, access to application equipment and odor can all be additional challenges for producers unfamiliar with its use.