Adding Chicken Manure to the home orchard

kokos(6a)October 5, 2010

I got some chicken manure from an organic chicken farm...

free of charge. It is not soggy, it was in huge piles at the farm and it is very dry in appearance. Thing is it has a strong scent of ammonia. I have it in the back garden away from the trees now. Should I wait in applying it?

why does it smell like ammonia, is it because it has not completely composted yet?

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It smells like ammonia because, as you say, it's not composted yet.

It's good stuff, great in fact, I use all of my chicken/duck/turkey bedding and manure in my garden.

But, it's very "hot" right now. You can use SMALL quantities, like a gallon maybe, as a fertilizer directly around trees and shrubs, scattered evenly under the drip line, but it's not really a good time of year to do that, you don't want to be promoting growth at the time of the year when the plants need to go dormant.

What you should really do with this is mix it with some high-carbon material -- leaves, straw, etc., and let it break down for a few months, or even over the winter, and then apply it where you want it. That way, the nutrients will be captured in the compost. Otherwise, you're going to lose most of the nutrient value into the air and groundwater/runoff.

As they say, it will be worth the wait.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 12:07PM
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oregonwoodsmoke(5 OR Sunset 1A)

I'd let it sit until spring and then apply it.

When I do that, I pile the stuff in my veggie garden, so any nutrients that leach into the soil will be there in the spring for the veggies.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 2:15PM
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gator_rider2(z8 Ga.)

Timing very important chicken litter put out in December fresh litter it be in root zone by next spring. In that time fram it compost and make on compost tea that go in root zone plant. Once you compost chicken litter all have is organic matter = mulch little are no value to plants tea coming out mulch weak. A ton chicken litter has 500 lbs lime per ton this help most time on second year of crop more than first year applied. When you take hand and stick in ground up to elbow you show down adding organic matter very few people in world do this the adding of organic matter but is possible. In-all get all chicken litter,Gin trash and Horse litter you get it help on way to sticking hand down in soil to elbow.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 2:22PM
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alan haigh

The smell lets you know that there is N there that is water soluable. When you want the plants to pick up N this form allows you some extra timing control.

It is very common for commercial growers to spray dilute amounts of urea on bearing age fruit trees in spring to get the N right to the flower buds and very young fruit, encouraging the development of larger fruit and better set without encouraging the rank vegetative growth a later application might cause.

Doing a split application of hot manure in fall and early spring should come close to accomplishing the same thing. The fall absorbed N doesn't just stay in the roots but if the trees have some leaves it will be pulled up into the leaves and buds. This will not cause a sudden, dangerous burst of growth late in the season as often suggested.

I think chicken manure runs somewhere near 7% N. I wouldn't apply more than a pound actual N per 1000 sq. ft per split application. I'm sure you can find a more reliable source of information on the average nutrient content of CM on the internet.

As I've often stated here, another great source of quick release N is in your own urine. About 60% of our bodies release of N and K go out through our urine- the 2 nutrients most important in sustaining an orchards productivity.

However too much N, especially that absorbed after petal fall, will lead to excessive vegetative growth and poor quality fruit.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 5:20PM
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I took about a small shovel full of this chicken manure and placed outside the drip line of some young trees. Trees are shutting down now it will use this stuff next spring. I put it slightly outside their drip not to burn the roots.

I turned the stuff today...there was steam coming from was a cold rainy day here. The chicken manure is mixed with wooden shavings from the poultry farm.

I have the stuff piled on top of the veggie garden....this way the stuff will leach into the soil....i hope next years crop won't burn.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 7:17PM
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alan haigh

It is not easy to burn tree roots with fresh manure unless you put it in the planting hole or go way overboard. The only place I've seen manure killed trees are ones next to a manure pile.

Certain plants are known to be particularly sensitive to fertilizer burn- shallow rooted ones like blueberries.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 8:14PM
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how far away should the manure pile be from the fruit trees?

    Bookmark   October 5, 2010 at 10:18PM
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alan haigh

Boy, I hope Ivillage doesn't continue this pop-up interference as a constant or we all may have to start our own blog.

Anyway, speaking from a theoretical standpoint, I'd keep my pile at least 10' from the nearest roots. Trees I've seen killed were right up against huge piles at commercial stables.

Of course, you also don't want your trees over stimulated.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 6:16AM
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what's with i village...they have been interfering with me trying to post. Anyway...

thanks to all!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 11:29AM
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I use chicken manure for melons and cantaloupe. It is great but stay away from the roots. I learned my lessons. It is very strong manure. I buy it from the Farm store.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2010 at 1:52PM
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