Although practices involving the use of poultry litter as fertilizer have become controversial, one working group has been analyzing the effects of the practice. A group that has grown to include representatives of the poultry industry including Perdue, Tysons and Mountaire, the EPA, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the agriculture industry, the former Secretary of Agriculture for the state of Delaware, agriculture scientists from the University of Delaware, Shorekeeper and Riverkeeper, the Virginia Tech Experiment Station and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science have been working on a mass balance study to determine the levels of nitrogen and phosphorous in the soils on the Delmarva Peninsula.
The group has been working on the study which will determine the capacity of the soils on Delmarva to use chicken litter as fertilizer. The study will determine how much nitrogen and phosphorous the local soil can accommodate and where it should be distributed. It is expected to be completed with a report within the next several months.
The study compares the affects of inorganic chemical fertilizers with those of poultry litter which is organic. The report will contain mass balance studies for each county including Accomack and Northampton.
Both Dr. Richard Snyder of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and Dr. Mark Reiter of the Virginia Tech Experiment station in Painter are participating in the project. When the study for the Delmarva Peninsula is completed, Snyder and Reiter will apply the results to both Accomack and Northampton counties taking into account the geographic and geologic differences between the Eastern Shore of Virginia and Maryland and Delaware along with the anticipated effects on the Chesapeake Bay and the waters of the seaside in Virginia. Both Dr. Snyder and Reiter then plan to host a day long seminar on the subject here on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.