Finding Alternative Litter Management StrategiesRATIONALE
Arkansas is the nation's leading broiler producer, and the poultry industry is the state's largest employer. About 4,000 independent farmers contract with agribusinesses to grow chickens and turkeys that collectively produce about 460,000 tons of litter each year. Over one-third of these private growers are concentrated in five northwest counties, where there is increasing public concern about poultry waste. Off-farm manure management must be economically feasible and environmentally sound. The most promising strategies for litter management are large-scale, regionally coordinated enterprises. This collaborative and regionally coordinated approach requires a new way of thinking within the poultry industry's traditional and independent contract grower structure.
Help poultry producers and agribusinesses identify options and coordinate strategies for economically and environmentally sound off-farm litter management in northwest Arkansas.
Winrock and the Foundation for Organic Resources Management (FORM) are working with a leading poultry firm and its growers to explore options for creating a coordinated off-farm litter management enterprise that would process litter into value-added products. They are evaluating waste technologies that would convert litter into soil amendments, animal feeds, or energy; exploring potential operation and business structures, and developing a plan for action. Working with growers and industry, the project is linking needs of these groups and building a cooperative network to address the challenges and potential of poultry litter management.
Focus groups of growers and agribusinesses have identified attitudes and options for alternative litter management strategies that will be used in the project and in other areas where concentrated waste is a concern. The project is sharing information and strategies with Oklahoma for use in the Eucha/Spavinaw Watershed. Successful models for coordinated litter management services developed by the project will be replicated in other areas of concentrated waste production. FORM presented a report on the project's work at the Environmental Protection Agency's TriRegion conference.