Turkey litter compost


For several years now I have been adding Turkey Litter compost to my garden in the early Spring. Can I add the same compost to my garden in the Fall ie now? And do I need to then add some more compost in the early Spring or is that necessary? Thank You

Brian S.


Composted poultry litter makes an excellent fertilizer for gardens because it is high in nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium, and is also rich in organic matter, which contributes to good soil structure. The important thing to note though is that poultry litter should be properly composted before applying in your garden, particularly if applied in the spring.

Raw poultry litter is very high in nitrogen, which can burn delicate roots of seedlings, as well as potentially carrying pathogens, such as E. coli and Salmonella.  Poultry litter should be composted for a minimum of 5 to 6 weeks before adding to your garden.  The poultry litter should be mixed into a compost pile with other organic materials and turned regularly to introduce the oxygen required by microbes to break down the materials.  Composting properly will also generate sufficient heat to kill potential pathogens, reduce nitrogen levels, and will stabilize nutrients, allowing them to be released slowly over several years.

If you cannot compost your turkey litter, then you should only apply to your garden in the fall after harvest to allow time for the microbes in your soil to further breakdown nutrients and to minimize the risk of pathogens.  However, if possible, composting is a better option, as it will reduce smell, improve the long-term availability of nutrients in the soil and lower any risks from pathogens.

A single application each year should be sufficient.  If you are using raw turkey litter, target about 6.5 kg of manure per 10 square meters to achieve optimal nitrogen levels.  If using composted manure, use about 20kg of compost per 10 square meters. If you do decide to add the compost in the spring, remember that composted poultry litter should be applied no less than 90 days before harvesting trellised crops, and no less than 120 days before harvesting crops in contract with the ground.

Please be aware that an oversupply of phosphorus can be an environmental pollutant if it leaches into the water supply.