Will chicken litter and fly ash make the 'perfect' compost?
Retiree uses fly ash and chicken litter to develop an odorless, nutrient-rich compost that he hopes is the perfect garden fertilizer.
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"There's enough nitrogen in the soil, but certain things keep the plan from using it," Brent says. "Whenever this come out, I can assure you there will be a higher amount of nutrients in it."Skip to next paragraph
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The fly ash also accomplishes another major fertilizer feat – it kills the odor of the chicken litter completely. Brent says the bad smell of chicken litter is often its primary drawback for commercial use.
So far, Brent's ducks are in a row. He is testing his mixture on fields in Silver Creek with a permit from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. The results so far are noticeable, but more stringent testing will be required before his compost goes commercial.
Dr. Larry Oldham, an MSU Extension professor and soil expert who Brent has called for advice many times, says Brent's accelerated compost would have to be validated in controlled scientific tests. He did say, however, that Brent might be onto something, and other, larger entities are trying to get to the finish line, too.
"The Southern Company has been doing a lot of work with fly ash, including in this state, over the past few years," Dr. Oldham says. "There's a lot of research going on. There's been a lot of work with fly ash, I'm just not real sure if it's been combined with poultry litter."
Brent is hoping his labor will produce fruit next year. He's already formed Silver Creek Processing LLC and hopes to begin bagging free samples of his accelerated compost for gardeners to try next spring. He says his mixture will likely be too expensive for large-scale agricultural use, but he hopes to make an impact on the gardening market and leave a successful company behind for his grandchildren.
"My father did better than his father, and I feel like I may have had a higher standard of living than he did," Brent says. "But the way this country is headed, and with the millions of jobs we've sent overseas, I wonder if my grandson will be able to have as high a standard of living as I did."
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