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Plan Development for Supplying Poultry Litter for Off-Farm Energy: Northeast Alabama Template

Funding for this project was from the NRCS Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative. Alabama Mountains, Rivers, and Valleys RCD was the prime contractor. Overall technical coordination, integration of project components into a comprehensive plan, reporting, and tasks as designated below were provided via a subcontract with BR Bock Consulting. The Center for Economic Development and Resource Stewardship, Auburn University, and Sand Mountain Lake Guntersville Watershed Conservancy were also subcontractors.

Because of water-quality concerns, poultry grower and litter vendor concerns about current and future regulations restricting land application of poultry litter, and urban encroachment into poultry areas there is interest in alternatives to land application of poultry litter. As water quality-driven regulations of land application become more widely enforced, rates of application will decrease, the efficiency of vendor operations will decrease, application costs will increase, and the practicality of local land application will decrease. To deal with these challenges and help ensure that water quality is maintained in the Sand Mountain Lake Guntersville Watershed and surrounding areas of northeast Alabama, it is projected that alternative uses will be needed for some of the poultry litter produced. Supplying poultry litter to local industrial energy operations holds promise as an alternative use for significant quantities of poultry litter produced in northeast Alabama and for improving the efficiency of vendor operations; however, a detailed stakeholder-based plan for supplying poultry litter to energy operations is needed.  The purpose of this project was to develop such a plan.

As a basis for developing a poultry litter supply plan, the following questions were answered based on the tasks in bold:

  1. How much poultry litter is produced in northeast Alabama and how is it distributed around potential energy end-use sites (Development of a poultry litter geographic information system based on locations and square footage of operational poultry houses)?
  2. What portion of the poultry litter produced might be provided to energy operations by growers in exchange for cleanout and hauling (Conducted a poultry grower survey)?
  3. What would the delivered cost of poultry litter likely be (Conducted poultry grower and litter vendor surveys)?
  4. How can poultry litter best be supplied on a year-round basis (Assessed a staggered year-round poultry litter supply system and conducted two studies indicating grower concerns about winter cleanout as part of a staggered year-round cleanout system are unfounded)?
  5. How are fuel properties of poultry litter affected by litter treatments, cake vs. litter from primary cleanout, and length of time between primary cleanouts (Conducted assessments of fuel properties as affected by these variables)?
  6. How can bio-security be achieved (Developed bio-security recommendations based on alternative use programs for poultry litter in Maryland and Delaware and Alabama guidelines for inspectors of poultry operations)?
  7. Can incentives be shifted from long-distance hauling to local energy uses (Compared the cost effectiveness of incentives for long-distance transportation of poultry litter vs. for local use of poultry litter as an energy source for commercial operations)?


Final Report (9.5 MB pdf)

Overview Presentation (5.4 MB pdf)

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