The Surprising Power of Chicken Manure


Poultry litter increased soybean yields for three years after litter application was stopped.

Each year, American farmers raise billions of chickens, more than enough for a “chicken for every pot,” as Herbert Hoover’s campaign once promised. But all those birds mean a lot of something else: manure. Poultry litter is the mix of manure and bedding materials coming from the poultry industry. Farms produce millions of tons each year.

Like other animal wastes, poultry litter is a natural choice as farm fertilizer. Although it’s widely used, there’s still a lot we don’t know about how — and if — poultry litter helps crops.

In new research, scientists in Mississippi tested just that. They looked at how applying poultry litter to fields over several years would affect the soil and crops grown afterward. The work was recently published in Soil Science Society of America Journal.

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