Blogging by the Bushel
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By: Kyle Imwalle – Mercer Landmark Agronomist

Everyone knows the value of conventional fertilizer and what it does for the crops, but a lot of people forget that we can use other sources for our nutrients such as dairy, hog, and chicken manure.  If you raise any of these animals you know what the manure does for your crops and the value of the manure.  Typically dairy and hog manure are hard to come by if you don’t raise the animals yourself, but chicken litter is readily available through brokers, such as Mercer Landmark.  Chicken litter is traditionally cheaper per unit of nutrient than commercial fertilizer.

A study by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) agronomist Haile Tewolde figured the litter’s value for Nitrogen as $15.70 per pound, Phosphorus at $14.60 per pound, and Potassium at $7.10 per pound. The prices ARS used for N-P-K were, on a per pound basis $0.30, $0.27, and $0.16, respectively. ARS also figured the litter’s value as a soil conditioner as an extra $17 per ton of litter. They calculated this by balancing the price tag of the nutrients in litter with its resulting higher yields, a reflection of its soil conditioning benefits. Chicken layer manure also has 86 pounds of Calcium per ton which equals roughly $26.00 in commercial fertilizers. At the time of this post chicken litters value is anywhere from $39.00 to $53.00 depending on where the litter is coming from and how far it has to be transported.

The tables below show the average values of macro nutrients in the different types of poultry manure.

Table 1. Average Nutrient Composition of Broiler Manures
Manure Type Total
N
Ammonium
NH4+-N
Phosphorus
P2O5
Potassium
K2O
lb./ton
Fresh (no litter) 26 10 17 11
Broiler house litter1 72 11 78 46
Roaster house litter1 73 12 75 45
Breeder house litter1 31 7 54 31
Stockpiled litter1 36 8 80 34
Table 2. Average Nutrient Composition of Layer Manures
Manure Type Total
N
Ammonium
NH4+-N
Phosphorus
P2O5
Potassium
K2O
lb./ton
Fresh (no litter) 26 6 22 11
Under cage scraped1 28 14 31 20
High-rise stored2 38 18 56 30
lb./1,000 gallons
Liquid slurry3 62 42 59 37
Anaerobic lagoon sludge 26 8 92 13
lb./acre-inch
Anaerobic lagoon liquid 179 154 46 266

If you have any questions please contact your local Mercer Landmark Agronomy Sales Representative.

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