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Improving soil quality with free-range poultry: an innovative solution for organic crop farmers and the environment
Increasingly, farmers are interested in adding an animal component to crop farms, but there a few scientific studies that document what effect this has on farm sustainability, particularly for poultry. Poultry are a viable choice for integrated livestock-crop farming due to a more supportive regulatory system than for ruminants. I am a Ph.D. candidate at UC Santa Cruz studying the potential of poultry-crop farming to enhance soil quality in a profitable manner. To maximize the usefulness of the research, I have developed the themes in collaboration with farmers.
Specifically, the research entails a 12-month soil study to investigate whether pastured poultry can replace or reduce the need for compost and cover crops in regards to soil nutrient levels, soil organic matter, and soil compaction. I am also analyzing soils for foodborne pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7, Campylobacter, and Salmonella to ensure that this practice does not cause food safety problems. In the greenhouse, I am growing crops in soil from chicken pasture and comparing growth to crops grown in regular crop soil.
matt farrell Says:
Apr 2nd, 2010 at 4:33 pm
i have a small farm just starting out and am trying to produce/gather all of my required nutrients.i have a chicken arc and 3 lovely birds that roam the grounds depositing there goods.would love to talk
Thorne Barrager Says:
Apr 6th, 2010 at 3:25 pm
Kalita@Peaceful Valley Says:
Apr 7th, 2010 at 12:05 pm
Sounds like a great project. Perhaps you may want to get involved:
If you are allowing your chickens to free range or using a chicken tractor in your crops or orchard and are interested in being interviewed contact:
eddie vargas Says:
Apr 13th, 2010 at 4:02 pm
I have 8 birds that free range during the day. They roam in and out the my raised beds and have been turning the soil the last 2 months along with fertilizing as they go. I am curious to see how it works out.
Jan 29th, 2013 at 8:41 am
I know this is an old post, but would be interested to see the results!
Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Jan 29th, 2013 at 5:29 pm
JT, I haven’t heard any results. Will look for more info and post a link here if the study is complete.