Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Chicken Shit Problem Overblown?

Federal environmental programs have drastically overestimated the poultry industry's contributions to water pollution, according to a University of Delaware-led study that could trigger changes to river and bay cleanup plans around the country.

James L. Glancey, a professor in the university's Bioresources Engineering and Mechanical Engineering departments, said that a multistate study, based on thousands of manure tests, found that actual nitrogen levels in poultry house manure are 55 percent lower than the Environmental Protection Agency's decades-old, lab-based standards.

The results could lead to a formal proposal as early as next month for changes to the Chesapeake Bay Program's six-state pollution forecasting model, used to guide a federally backed attempt to restore the bay's health and ecosystems and assign cleanup goals.
And why does this matter?  The so called 'Bay Diet' is based on a large number of estimates of inputs of nitrogen to the bay, including the inputs from chicken farming on the the Eastern Shore, which is thought to be a significant source.  If the amount of nitrogen coming from chicken shit is, say, only half of what the models use, it will likely not be possible to get the amount of reduction that the 'Bay Diet' proposes from that source, and it will be necessary to find other places to get the planned reductions.  And they won't be happy...

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