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Research Project: Sustaining Agroecosystems and Water Resources in the Northeastern U.S.

Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Title: Poultry manureshed management: Opportunities and challenges for a vertically integrated industry

Author
item Bryant, Ray
item Endale, Dinku
item Spiegal, Sheri
item Flynn, Kyle
item MEINEN, ROBERT - Pennsylvania State University
item Cavigelli, Michel
item Kleinman, Peter

Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Quality
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/12/2021
Publication Date: 8/2/2021
Citation: Bryant, R.B., Endale, D.M., Spiegal, S.A., Flynn, K.C., Meinen, R.J., Cavigelli, M.A., Kleinman, P.J. 2021. Poultry manureshed management: Opportunities and challenges for a vertically integrated industry. Journal of Environmental Quality. 1-31. https://doi.org/10.1002/jeq2.20273.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/jeq2.20273

Interpretive Summary: The “manureshed” is a concept for managing manure within a geographic area surrounding one or more livestock and poultry operations. Manureshed management seeks to address nutrient imbalances at scales beyond the farmgate and potentially across county and state boundaries. Excess manure nutrients can be recycled for agricultural production, either by transport from source areas to cropland needing fertilizer (sink areas) or by treatment technologies and alternative uses such as bioenergy production. The US poultry industry, which includes broilers, layers, pullets, and turkeys, has a history of engaging in local and regional programs to better distribute manure resources. Despite widespread vertical integration that supports large-scale strategic decision making and dry manures that favor off-farm transport, there are still many challenges to poultry manureshed management that require engaging stakeholders other than just the poultry industry. Our analysis of county-level nutrient budgets highlights the industry’s “mega-manureshed,” extending from the Mid-Atlantic, across the southeast, and into northwest Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. The analysis also identifies areas with legacy nutrient build-up that are still present today. Fortunately, past and present evolution and innovation within the industry places it as a likely leader of the manureshed vision.

Technical Abstract: Manureshed management seeks to address systemic imbalances in nutrient distributions at scales beyond the farmgate and potentially across county and state boundaries. The US poultry industry, which includes broilers, layers, pullets, (Gallus gallus domesticus), and turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo), has many characteristics that are compatible with achieving a vision of manureshed management, including a history of engaging in local and regional programs to better distribute manure resources. Despite widespread vertical integration that supports large-scale strategic decision making and dry manures that favor off-farm transport, there are still many challenges to poultry manureshed management that require engaging stakeholders other than just the poultry industry. Analysis of county-level nutrient budgets highlights the industry’s “mega-manureshed,” extending from the Mid-Atlantic, across the southeast, and into northwest Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. The analysis also identifies areas with legacy nutrient build-up that are still present today. Implementing manureshed management in the US poultry industry requires comprehensive consideration of manure treatment technologies, alternative uses such as bioenergy production, market development for treated manure products, transport of manure nutrients from source areas to sink areas, and manure brokering programs that promote manure nutrient redistribution. Fortunately, past and present evolution and innovation within the industry places it as a likely leader of the manureshed vision.