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New poultry litter applicator can cut nutrient runoff

July 16, 2014  by Press release


July 16, 2014, Wooster, OH – Researchers will demonstrate a prototype farm implement that slashes nutrient runoff and bacterial contamination from poultry litter at this year’s Manure Science Review.

Co-hosted by Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, the event is Aug. 14 in northeast Ohio.

Farmers traditionally dispose of poultry litter – a mixture of mostly manure and bedding – by spreading it on their fields as fertilizer, a benefit to crops.


But the new device goes deeper. It buries the material in a series of parallel bands a few inches below the soil surface, not on top of it, said Tom Way, part of a team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service who developed and tested the implement.

The results of the practice are greatly reduced nitrogen and phosphorus losses and E. coli concentrations in rain-caused runoff from the fields, he said. Crop yields, meanwhile, are the same or sometimes higher.

Experts say excessive nutrient runoff from farm fields, especially of phosphorus, is a cause of the algal blooms plaguing Lake Erie, Grand Lake St. Marys and other Ohio water bodies.

Farm field runoff also can carry E. coli bacteria from manure into lakes and streams. Some E. coli types can cause illness in people.

The new implement, which can apply four bands of poultry litter at once and has adjustable spacings for those bands, is an advancement on a single-band applicator the team previously developed.

Way, an agricultural engineer at USDA-ARS’s National Soil Dynamics Laboratory in Auburn, Alabama, will talk about and demonstrate the new design at Manure Science Review. Case Farms, Gerber’s Poultry and the Ohio Poultry Association are sponsoring his appearance.

Manure Science Review goes from 8:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Rupp Vue Farm, 14636 Seville Road, in Sterling in Wayne County. The program features new methods and technologies for handling, storing and applying manure, with a focus on helping both farms and the environment.

Registration for the event costs $25 by Aug. 6 and $30 after that date. Continental breakfast and lunch are included.

The event flier has a registration form and the complete list of topics and speakers. It can be downloaded at

For more information, call 330-202-3533.


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