Engineers with Perdue Farms are working on new methods of composting chicken waste in Delaware and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore that could also control pollution, reports the Associated Press.

Perdue officials are seeking permission to add wood, water and hatchery waste to poultry litter, The News Journal reported. The company would then recycle the litter at a Seaford-area site by heating the litter, forming it into pellets and selling it as fertilizer to farms.

A second method Perdue is developing would involve composting the litter under breathable fabric that would allow water vapor to escape, allow air in and would keep rainwater out. The process would turn the compost into nutrient-rich soil. Bacteria would be killed by the heat of decomposition.

Perdue presented its proposal to the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission as more environmentally friendly than the current method of spreading chicken waste on fields.

“The entire point of this whole project is to take existing nutrients that are a byproduct of agriculture and contain them,” said Ken Christenbury, an engineer working with Perdue.

The effort drew praise from an environmental group, the Inland Bays Foundation, at a hearing Thursday. Board member Doug Parham called the idea of waterproof, breathable fabric stretched over piles of compost “a potentially elegant solution” to poultry industry pollution.

Neighbors of the composting plant said they are concern the process could increase bad odors. Perdue officials said the composting fabric would help control odors and that a building used to receive litter would have an air filter.

Sources: AP, The News Journal (Wilmington, Del.)