Poultry-Vegetable integration for organic production

Developing crop-livestock integration systems can create a more cyclical flow of nutrients, decreasing dependency on off-farm inputs and increasing biodiversity. As integration systems are more widely adopted, concerns over food safety and the profitability of such systems for growers have arisen. This project aims to scientifically address concerns over food safety, economic viability, soil quality, animal welfare, and the nutritional requirements of vegetables in poultry-vegetable integration production systems. The specific research objectives of this project are to i) evaluate vegetable growth, yield, and quality, and cover crop performance in integrated organic production systems and ii) determine the impact of integrated production on soil health indicators. Two different poultry-vegetable-cover crop rotations will be implemented with data collection of biological, chemical, and physical indicators of soil health, bird growth and welfare, crop growth characteristics, and presence of microbiological contamination. We will also conduct an economic analysis comparing the production systems and develop a decision tool for grower adoption. This research will guide organic farmers as they seek to adopt crop-livestock synergies and best practices and contribute to the growing body of scientific research on these systems.