By Dan Rahn
University of Georgia
The Georgia Poultry Federation has teamed up with the University of Georgia to launch a new Web site designed to help move poultry litter to where it's needed in the state.
The Georgia Poultry Federation Litter Market (www.galitter.org) will allow poultry growers with litter to sell to post ads that potential buyers can view. Farmers and others who want to buy litter for its nutrients may also post ads. So can anyone who provides services such as poultry house clean-out or litter hauling or spreading.
The service is free.
Poultry growers, brokers and buyers can post ads telling the services they need or the amount and location of litter they have or want. Visitors can browse the ads or conduct searches based on location or other factors.
"We hope www.galitter.org will be a valuable service to poultry growers throughout the state," said Georgia Poultry Federation President Abit Massey.
"In many parts of the state," Massey said, "poultry litter is in strong demand for use as a fertilizer for crops and pastures. This Web site should help create a stronger market for the litter and assist poultry growers in linking up with potential buyers."
UGA Extension Service engineer Mark Risse, who helped develop the site, said he hopes visitors will remember that the site is a database. It won't have a lot of data in it at first. But that will change with time.
Give it time"When we first made it live there was no data in it," Risse said. "I checked after the first few days and there were six or eight ads on it. It will take some time for it to build up. We just don't want somebody to go there and say, 'Well, there's not much there,' and not come back."
Take the time to check the site, bookmark it, post or answer an ad and check back if you don't find what you need, he said.
The Web site could help solve the problem of having too much poultry litter in some places and not enough in others, Risse said.
Too much, too little
"We have a few counties in north Georgia where if we land-applied all of the litter there at agronomic rates on every acre of available cropland and pasture, we'd still have too much litter," he said. "We'd still have too much nitrogen and phosphorus."
But south Georgia, he said, has many areas where farmers can't get enough litter. "We hope this Web site will facilitate more exchange between north and south Georgia," he said.
Risse said the Web site could lead to new outlets for litter, too, such as producing compost for organic farmers and gardeners or developing power plants that could produce energy from poultry litter.
"Many applications such as these depend on consistent, dependable supplies of poultry litter," he said. "Hopefully, this Web site could help them find these suppliers."
Georgia is the largest poultry-producing state in the United States, with 2.15 billion chickens generating $2.5 billion a year in farm cash receipts, according to the Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service.
All those chickens produce about 1.5 million tons of litter per year. The nutrients in that litter make it valuable as a fairly low-cost fertilizer. Too much of it in a given place, though, can pollute the environment.
That's where the new Web site comes in.
"A few other states have successful litter-broker sites," Risse said. "We're hoping it will be a good solution to having too much of a resource in one place and not enough in another."
(Dan Rahn is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)