1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
The objective of this project is to work with Jordanian biological systems engineers and poultry producers to reduce the pollution potential of organic agricultural wastes to surface and ground water through composting. The likelihood that on-farm poultry litter composting will become a standard practice adopted on a larger scale than the initial project will depend in part on demonstration of the efficiency and economic viability, and high product quality from the ‘first’ venture.
1b. Approach (from AD-416)
The ARS team will: •jointly plan and develop with the Jordanian team a poultry manure/litter composting operation (“Operation” may be to develop the specific simple approach or procedures of getting chicken manure collected and distributed to individual farmers, and their training so they can create their own compost for their farms. Large-scale production, marketing and distribution of compost is likely too expensive and sophisticated for Jerash at this time.) •provide guidance, consultation, training to the Jordanian team in composting methods and overcoming hurdles, •provide them with written and illustrated design, operational, and product utilization guidance materials, as well as monitoring, accounting, and other operation software. • to provide test methods and training to assess the quality and suitability of the product for meeting various agricultural and horticultural applications within environmental limits, •provide a workshop to train compost facility operators in Best Available Practices.
3. Progress Report
This report serves to document progress under an interagency agreement between the US Forest Service (USFS) and the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to provide technical assistant to USAID/Jordan under the Pollution Prevention for Environmental Health Protection project (P2EHP), being implemented by Camp, Dresser and McKee International, Inc. (CDM). ARS provided technical advice on the project, “Poultry Litter Composting to Produce High Quality Product for Agricultural and Horticultural Uses project in Jordan.” The ARS team made four trips to the Jerash region over 2008 and 2009, first to observe local practices and resources relative to fertilizer use, poultry production, litter use, and composting, then to initiate composting and plant growth experiments. Experimental results were reviewed and a composting workshop was conducted during the third trip in September 2008. Results from a reforestation project were reviewed during a short trip in July 2009. The reforestation efforts appeared to be successful with regard to the survival of most seedlings; the concerted effort to educate and engage the local inhabitants in these projects was impressive knowing that the long-term sustainability of such projects is clearly dependent on the engagement of the local population and their understanding of how the regenerated forests will benefit their families and communities. With regards to composting poultry litter, observations suggest that local poultry production and use of poultry litter is not a significant source of nutrients in groundwater pollution in the Jerash region. There was no evidence that litter was piled up or stored where it might wash into local streams or leach into soils, in fact there appeared to be an active market for poultry litter, with prices high during planting season and low cost to producers in the off season. Virtually all of the poultry litter in the USA and Canada is applied as a fertilizer for crops. Poultry litter is usually not composted because there is not enough increased value in the composted material compared to the fertilizer value of raw litter, with more than 50% of the nitrogen in poultry litter is lost (i.e. volatilized as ammonia) during composting. There are additional challenges to composting litter in Jordan where water is scarce and there is relatively little biomass (trees, leaves) for mixing. No unique conditions in Jerash were observed that would alter the economics or environmental impacts of composting poultry litter relative to those in other countries. Although animal wastes in general, and poultry litters in particular, are the focus of many current bioenergy projects, there are as yet no practical technologies for utilizing poultry litter for bioenergy. Bioenergy prospects for other manures and municipal wastes are more promising. Sheep, goat, and dairy manure can be anaerobically digested for biogas and there are a number of promising small scale technologies that may be appropriate for individual houses or small communities.