Planting short rotation coppice willows (SRCW) in chickens’ free-range areas could have several advantages for the chickens, environment and farmer. Our aim was to test the effects of combining SRCW and chickens on free-range use, soil conditions and SRCW growth. A free-range chicken area was partially planted with a grass/clover mixture, and partially with SRCW. Chickens preferred to range in SRCW compared to grassland. No effects of periodical chicken presence on SRCW growth were observed. Total mineral N (Nmin) was affected by interactions between vegetation type, location, and soil depth; it was generally higher in SRCW than in grassland and in areas close to the chicken houses. Nmin did not appear to accumulate in the soil over the years, but there were strong indications for higher risk of N leaching to deeper soil layers and possibly to groundwater close to the houses and in SRCW. SRCW was beneficial for the chickens, but the combination needs to be studied further with a focus on strategies for preventing nutrient leaching to groundwater.
- carbon storage
- nitrogen loss