Evaluation of Pelletized Poultry Litter to Improve Specialty Crop Production in West Virginia

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2021: $29,944.00
Projected End Date: 11/30/2024
Grant Recipient: West Virginia University
Region: Northeast
State: West Virginia
Project Leader:
Candace DeLong
West Virginia University

Information Products

Poultry Litter Project Poster 2022 (Conference/Presentation Material)


  • Vegetables: cabbages
  • Animal Products: by product - fertilizer


  • Animal Production: manure management
  • Crop Production: high tunnels or hoop houses, nutrient management

    Proposal abstract:

    The poultry industry in West Virginia is the State's most profitable agricultural sector.  In 2019, farmers in WV raised over 75 million broilers and 3 million turkeys. Due to the limited arable crop acres within the state, most of the corn and soybeans used as feed for these enterprises are imported from the Midwest. The resulting poultry litter is used primarily on pasture and hayland acres and due to elevated soil phosphorus levels, future applications are potentially restricted.  An alternative use for poultry litter is needed that will add value and increase utilization across the region away from the poultry growing counties.  

    The goals are:

    1) determine if specialty crop growers will accept a designer fertilizer of pelleted poultry litter

     2) determine the nutrient efficacy or fertilizer value of pelleted litter sourced from two bird types

    3) evaluate the feasibility of pelleting poultry litter from WV in a pellet production plant in New York 

    4) evaluate the market potential of retail WV pelleted poultry litter at local agricultural and lawn and garden outlets in WV

    5) determine microbial content of pelleted poultry litter 

    We will recruit two poultry farmers willing to provide bulk poultry litter. Produce six tons of poultry litter pellets, have four growers establish crop fertility trials, evaluate the marketability of 40-pound pellet fertilizer products.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project seeks to evaluate the feasibility of producing a value-added fertilizer from different WV sourced poultry litter from two production areas.  We seek to determine the suitability of broiler litter and turkey litter for pelleting. We seek to generate six tons of pellets, three tons from each bird type. This organic fertilizer will be packaged in regionally and bird type-specific forty-pound bags to promote marketing to the retail sector. We seek to offer these bags to agricultural and lawn and garden retail outlets to gauge product acceptance with growers and gardeners.  We seek to introduce this product to high tunnel and specialty crop growers in the state. To promote the marketability of the product, we will conduct fertilizer response trials to determine the nutrient availability during a growing season. These trials will be conducted with partnership growers.  We seek to determine the level of pathogen reduction from the pelleting process. We seek to provide outreach to producers with potential interest in the product, and the acceptance of the product to the poultry producing companies.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.