- Additional Plants: native plants, trees, ornamentals
- Crop Production: forestry, nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers, application rate management, tissue analysis
- Education and Training: extension, focus group, on-farm/ranch research, study circle, technical assistance
- Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, cooperatives, feasibility study
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, soil stabilization, wildlife
- Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, partnerships, sustainability measures
A series of focus groups in the Western Gulf states of the U.S. determined that future research on litter application to forests should focus on generating information that improves the ability of forest and broiler house owners to predict cost-effectiveness, pine yields, water quality, and wildlife forage quality associated with this practice. As a result, the research and extension team of this planning project will develop a SARE research and education project proposal to observe these variables in response to forest litter application conducted over a variety of soil types, forest ages, forest densities, and forest management intensities.
The goal of this planning project is to initiate a process for designing economically feasible and environmentally sound methods of disposing and utilizing poultry litter in forests of the Western Gulf region. To accomplish this goal, this planning grant will be used to:
1. Identify and prioritize the environmental and economic issues that are critical to application of poultry litter in forests and deficiencies in parlaying research information about poultry litter application to forest managers, forest landowners, and poultry producers of the region. This will be done by soliciting input from regional forest landowners, poultry producers, researchers, extension specialists, and other stakeholders. Particular attention will be given to actively seeking input from traditionally underserved landowners in the region.
2. Organize an inter-disciplinary team of researchers, extension specialists, forestry consultants, forest landowners, and poultry producers to develop a set or researchable questions and outreach protocol based on issues that arise from Objective 1. This will be done through workshops, conference calls, and on-site interviews with landowners interested in boosting forest productivity and poultry producers interested in new avenues of waste disposal.
3. Develop a SARE Research and Education grant proposal that will outline a research project and outreach programs based on the issues that arise from achieving objective 2. The project will potentially produce: (a) economically feasible poultry application protocol for pine forests of the Western Gulf, (b) broad understanding of the ecological sustainability of applying litter to forests, and (c) methods for efficiently teaching application concepts and methodology to forest landowners, managers, and poultry producers.