Are there specific plants that can draw arsenic from chicken litter out of soil?
Answer: I would definitely recommend a soil test to determine what kind of level of arsenic is in your soils. I would suspect that most of the litter would be hauled off, but a good deal could have been used on site as well, maybe too much. Arsenic buildup would lead to a higher content in some produce. However, phytoremediation (using plants to extract heavy metals) is a way to help. Here is a link to an EPA document that outlines arsenic in the environment. On page 124 it talks about phytoremediation and the plants that may work best.I’ve seen sunflowers being recommended in the past, but others include cottonwood, Indian mustard, and corn. The one consideration for this method is to make sure that the contamination is well within the root zone of the plants you are using. Other than that, it would be a viable option for your farm.For more information, see ATTRA’s publication Arsenic in Poultry Litter: Organic Regulations. This publication looks at the amount of arsenic in poultry litter and the potential for it building up in soil and contaminating water. Poultry litter applied at agronomic levels, using good soil conservation practices, generally will not raise arsenic concentrations sufficiently over background levels to pose environmental or human heath risks. However, recent studies show that more than 70% of the arsenic in uncovered piles of poultry litter can be dissolved by rainfall and potentially leach into lakes or streams. Thus, organic producers must take care when they handle and apply poultry litter.