Poultry Litter Research Project
There has been over a fifty percent increase in Poultry farms locating in Darlington County. Not all poultry farmers have enough land to apply the litter in their waste management plans, leading to an abundance of poultry litter available for use as fertilization. Presently poultry litter has not been readily used in cotton production in Darlington County. The cotton crop, which is the number one crop in Darlington County could benefit from the use of poultry litter as a means of fertilization. 2002 was a difficult year for cotton farmers in Darlington County. Production costs have risen and commodity prices have fallen, making every dollar count in the bottom line profit margin. It is vital to research the best methods of production that will lend the most efficient operation, while continuing to pay close attention to the effects of the environment.
Three selected farms in Darlington County have been researched to compare the difference in cotton grown conventionally with commercial fertilizers, and cotton grown with Poultry Litter for one year. Application rates of both litter and fertilizer have been recorded based on soil sample results. Nitrates have been monitored in the soil profile with soil samples taken throughout the growing season. Cotton growth was monitored by cotton petiole samples. Data received from these results have been evaulated and documented. At the end of the first growing season, a budget analysis of the two production systems was compared.
Results were demonstrated during a field day that was held toward the end of the cotton growing season for 45 producers. Harvest results were also shown, along with comparing budgets through newsletters, news articles, and two county cotton production meetings containing over 115 producers between the two counties. I have already arranged to give the results to annual meeting of the South Carolina Association of County Agricultural Agents in June. This will be information that can be taken state wide.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
A powerpoint presentation can be viewed at http://www.clemson.edu/darlington/programs.htm. This program will show comparisons of not only the yields, but also the budget analysis of the two systems. After the first year of the project, things are going good. There is much interest in this project not only in my county of Darlington, but also surrounding counties. I have been asked to a presentation at the annual meeting of the SC Agricultural Agents. Cooperation with farmers has been excellent and looking forward to working with the cooperators again this year. One thing that I believe shows success of this program is that there is a shortage this year of poultry litter. Everyone seems to want to get their hands on some, to try out for themselves.