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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Phosphorus load in outdoor areas for laying hens and capacity of phosphorus retaining materials to reduce the environmental impact

Aronsson, Helena; Wahlund, Lotten; Lovang, Malin; Hellstrand, Ebba; Odelros, Asa; Salomon, Eva


This study investigated manure loads in outdoor paddocks for laying hens and the capacity of two phosphorus (P) retaining materials for reducing leaching from manure in areas with high hen density. Inventories on two commercial farms during 2 years (2017 and 2018) of the impact of hens (groups of 3000 hens) on vegetation, as a proxy for land use by hens, showed that 16-21% of outdoor area in grassland paddocks and 22-39% of area in a forest paddock were used by the hens. Sand and limestone were tested as P retention materials in areas with high manure load in a field study during the outdoor season for laying hens (May 1 to October 31 in 2018). The materials were placed on the ground (0.2 m deep bed, 3.3 m wide) outside the pop-hole in paddocks with 76 hens. The average numbers of hens outdoors were recorded at 9 am and 3 pm daily. There was no significant difference between the materials concerning distribution of hens, and they seemed not to prefer any material more than the other. When cylinders containing the spent materials were exposed to simulated rainfalls in a laboratory study, the P concentrations in drainage water were high for all materials, including a control with gravel (58-136 mg PO4-P L-1 and 130-197 mg total-P L-1). On average, 14% of manure P retained in the sand and limestone materials was leached after 100 mm of simulated rainfall. Thus, these materials may act as physical filters for P in manure, but to reduce the risk of P losses to waters during the following winter, they need to be removed from the paddocks and preferably used as potential P fertilizers on arable land.


Phosphorus leaching; Poultry manure; P binding capacity; Lysimeter

Published in

Organic Agriculture
2022, Volume: 12, number: 3, pages: 325-334
Publisher: Springer Science and Business Media B.V.

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
    Soil Science

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