In an attempt to keep the water quality in check, the state of Virginia has decided to take on an unusual approach of transporting poultry waste around the state. The Virginia Poultry Federation will be playing a key role in ensuring that not only the poultry waste is transferred but also the water quality continues to improve.
With an impending deadline for Chesapeake Bay cleanup in 2025, the state is boosting its efforts and improving the program of transporting the poultry waste. One of the prime reasons for deteriorating water quality in the state is the excessive usage of poultry litter as the manure.
Since the poultry litter contains huge quantities of nitrogen and phosphorus, therefore when excess of it is used as manure, the abundant minerals seep from soil to underground water. These surplus minerals then create algal blooms responsible for not only blocking the sunlight, but also for creating the “dead zones”.
President of the Virginia Poultry Federation Hobey Bauhan, in response to usage of poultry waste as manure and fertilizers, said, “There’s market demand for it. I don’t even consider it a waste. It’s a fertilizer and soil-improving product.”
He further added that the program involves a “geographical limit”, which if exceeded will lead to the poultry litter becoming costlier than the commercial fertilizers.
Also, as per the 2017 report citing the extent of water pollution due to poultry waste in Shenandoah Valley, the major proportion of the poultry industry lies in Augusta, Page, Rockingham, and Shenandoah counties.
These counties generate a massive poultry litter, amounting to more than 410,000 tons and one billion gallons of liquid manure each year. And the runoff from the manures used is enough to disrupt recreational activities like fishing, swimming, and rafting in the waters of Shenandoah Valley.
Even though the policies have long been in effect to curb the worsening water quality, the Virginia Poultry Federation has always played its part in keeping the deteriorating water quality in check. Earlier, the farmers who purchased poultry litter were paid $15 for a ton of litter they purchased.
However, with the budget limit of only $80,000, out of which half of the amount was paid by the Poultry Federation of Virginia, the program was not much of success. Although, now the authorities are trying to change the scenario by including more funding, more export of poultry waste and improved accounts of manure transport.
To make this program a success, the Virginia state department furnished a fund of $250,000 a couple of months ago. On the other hand, the Virginia Poultry Federation will be contributing a significant amount of $40,000. It’s been two months since the initiation of the policy and funds worth $138,000 is provided as more than 9,000 tons of poultry litter has been purchased as manure.
Yet, the concerns on the success of the program remain and it will be interesting to see if the collective efforts result in improving the water quality of Virginia.