Liquid manure from livestock is used by many farmers for field fertilization. Many farmers in the U.S. fertilize their corn and hay fields with poultry litter and other animal manures.
For farmers, it’s a delicate balance between supplying sufficient nutrients for crop growth and yields without harming the environment. Adding premium biochar to animal manure reduces nutrient pollution from pesticide or fertilizer run-off. It can reduce the eutrophication of water bodies caused by excessive nutrient leaching, especially that of phosphorous or nitrogen.
With compost and biochar for animal manure, this soil amendment restores poor soils and aids in removing heavy metals and other toxins. Crop health and yield increases. Because biochar helps with water retention, less watering is necessary. Biochar can lower acidic pH levels in the soil.
What Is Biochar?
So, just what is biochar? The use of biochar dates back to ancient times when indigenous people in the Amazon Basin burned biomass such as wood and allowed it to smolder. The end result was Terra Preta, the extraordinarily fertile Black Earth that transformed poor jungle soils. Biochar basically lasts forever–the Black Earth created 2,500 years ago remains very fertile today.
Biochar is produced via pyrolysis, the heating of biomass at a very high temperature in an oxygen-free environment.
Biochar Added to Poultry Litter
Poultry litter is made from poultry manure and the bedding materials in the coop. The latter may consist of wood shavings, straw, sawdust, rice hulls, or similar types of bedding.
Farmers can add biochar to poultry litter to lessen the likelihood of illness, such as footpad dermatitis. Because biochar reduces the pH of the litter and the manure, in turn, ammonia emissions lessen. That leads to fewer respiratory problems in birds–and their human caretakers.
Biochar as Feed Additive
Biochar also benefits poultry as a feed additive. As a feed additive, biochar helps decrease pathogens while boosting the immune system of poultry and livestock. Animals gain weight, grow larger, and stay healthier. Their gastrointestinal systems are stronger and less prone to disturbances. Toxins already present in the digestive system are deactivated. Egg production increases.
When feeding poultry, mix 0.4 to 0.6 percent of biochar into the usual feed. For laying hens, stop the supplementation every two to three days after every 10 to 15 days. If feeding biochar, you will not need to use much of it in the poultry litter as the birds’ excretions will contain biochar.
How to Apply Biochar to Animal Manure
Here’s how to use biochar with animal manure to improve its quality. Much depends on whether biochar is included as a feed additive or in the litter. If it is, add 5 percent by volume to the manure belt.
If biochar is not used as an additive or in the litter, add 10 percent by volume to the manure belt.
Reducing Odor and Gas Emissions
Chickens excrete the bulk of the phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium consumed in their commercial feed. These and other undigested nutrients pass through the gastrointestinal system, resulting in increased odor and gas emissions. The coop will smell better within just a few days after adding biochar.
Adding biochar reduces not only the smell of manure but also gas emissions, which contribute to global warming.
Biochar in coops can absorb harmful microbes that affect bird health while promoting beneficial microbes that activate good intestinal flora.
Besides improving soil and plant health, biochar’s other strength is its ability to sequester carbon in the soil. For every pound of biochar used, two pounds of carbon dioxide are sequestered and do not enter the atmosphere.
Minimized Environmental Impact
By converting poultry litter into biochar, the environmental impact of the litter is minimized.
Learn More From Wakefield BioChar
At Wakefield BioChar, our goal is to make our biochar soil conditioners accessible and affordable to all, from farmers to consumers to large government projects. Sustainability is a top priority.
Better soils. Better World.