Delaware poultry growers using freezer storage units for routine mortality management can now recoup 75 percent of the collection fee paid to have their frozen deadstock hauled away.

The Delaware Nutrient Management Commission unanimously approved a pilot cost-share program intended to increase wider adoption of freezer units.

Commission members cited several reasons for supporting the relatively new nutrient management practice, including improved worker welfare, enhanced biosecurity, better neighbor relations and a creditable reduction in pollution.

The commission administers another hauling cost-share initiative. The state’s manure relocation program, which has been operating for a decade, assists with the transport of litter from a farm where the excess nutrients were generated to another farm in need of nutrients or to an alternative use facility.

The farmer applies to the Nutrient Management section of the Delaware Department of Agriculture for the cost-share funding.

The reimbursement procedure is as follows:

— Growers must first register at accounting.delaware.gov/w9_notice.shtml before applying for cost assistance the first time.

— The mortality collection company will send its customers a reimbursement form in January of each year containing the total fees paid in the prior year.

— That form is then filled out and submitted to the Delaware Department of Agriculture as the invoice for mortality collection reimbursement.

— The payment is then deposited directly into each applicant’s bank account.

The reimbursement form will be added to the nutrient reduction statement that the collection company already mails annually to its customers. That one-page statement sets out how many pounds of mortality — along with the associated amount of nitrogen and phosphorous — that were prevented from being land applied and potentially polluting area waterways.

The amount of nitrogen and phosphorous being diverted from land application has broader implications. A joint application by Delaware and Maryland to assign the use of freezer units “interim best management practice” status was approved in 2016 by the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Ag Workgroup.

Member states can now use this BMP as part of their menu of options for reaching their pollution reduction targets. Once those interim numbers for nitrogen and phosphorous content are deemed final, the nitrogen and phosphorous that has been diverted since interim status was granted will be “grandfathered in,” i.e., the states can claim those reductions — helping them to meet their overall nutrient reduction goals.

Routine mortality is stored inside a specially designed freezer collection unit. A customized collection vehicle arrives between flocks to empty the units so they are ready for the next flock. The deadstock is taken to a rendering plant where the material is recycled for other uses, which is why the material must be preserved in a freezer until pick up.

Growers switching to freezer units have been able to reduce the time and money they previously spent on composting, realizing thousands of dollars a year in operational savings.

For information, call 698-4558 or visit farmfreezers.com.