Master of Environmental Studies Capstone Projects

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



On the Delmarva Peninsula, poultry production reigns supreme as the most dominant industry of this region’s agricultural sector. This industry generates massive economic output for Delmarva agriculture, as well as a large amount of poultry litter (i.e., feces and bedding). Poultry litter is a valuable soil amendment used as an agricultural nutrient source. Historic land application of nutrient-rich poultry litter has led to high soil phosphorus levels in many areas of the Delmarva Peninsula, which has motivated a push to move litter out of the region to avoid negative environmental impacts of overapplication. However, there is also cropland without phosphorus surpluses that can benefit from poultry litter application as a valuable source of nutrients and organic matter. Despite the benefits that poultry litter application offers to agriculture, there are vast inefficiencies in its storage, transport, and utilization across the Delmarva Peninsula. The various regulatory schemes that govern poultry litter management are grossly uncoordinated. This lack of policy coherence has left many willing Delmarva farmers with distinct nutrient needs without access to this resource and created problems for poultry producers looking for a place to send litter. Additionally, there are numerous environmental and economic impacts to this inefficient distribution, such as excess nutrient runoff and unnecessary synthetic nutrient purchases. This report examines the underlying economic and environmental implications of the current system, identifies and analyzes the main policy barriers that discourage more effective poultry litter management, and provides succinct recommendations to improve and harmonize the Delmarva poultry litter policy landscape to achieve environmental and economic goals, noting obstacles to implementation.

Additional Files

Justin_Maroccia_Capstone_Poster.pptx (334 kB)
Capstone Poster



Date Posted: 06 July 2022