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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Tillage and Fertilizer Source Effects on Nitrate Leaching in Cotton Production in Southern Piedmont

Authors
item Cabrera, M - UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
item Endale, Dinku
item Radcliffe, D - UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
item Steiner, Jean
item Vencille, W - UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
item Lhor, L - UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
item Schomberg, Harry

Submitted to: Annual Southern Conservation Tillage Conference for Sustainable Agriculture
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: June 10, 1999
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Recent rapid growth in cotton acreage, continuing expansion of poultry litter use as alternative fertilizer, and increasing adoption of alternative tillage methods have the potential for significantly affecting the quality of water runoff and leachate in the Southeast. Little is known about the interactions of tillage and poultry litter in determining nutrient movement to ground and surface water in the southeast. The objective of this study was to quantify and compare potential nitrate losses from cotton produced under no-tillage and conventional-tillage systems fertilized with poultry litter and ammonium nitrate. The experiment was conducted in 1997 and 1998 on 12 instrumented, tile-drained plots, each 30 ft by 100 ft, located on nearly level slope (0-2%) Cecil sandy loam near Watkinsville, GA, in Southern Piedmont. From our observations so far, no-tillage did not increase nitrate leaching when compared to conventional-tillage. Although poultry litter led to a larger nitrate loss than conventional fertilizer, the difference between fertilizer sources was relatively small and for practical purposes non- significant. These are encouraging results for those engaged in promoting no-tillage and poultry litter use in cotton production in the Southeast.

Technical Abstract: Contamination of water resources by nitrate from agricultural sources is a major health and environmental quality issue confronting the USA today. The objective of this study was to compare potential nitrate losses from cotton produced under no-tillage and conventional-tillage systems fertilized with poultry litter and ammonium nitrate. The experiment was conducted in 1997 and 1998 near Watkinsville, GA in Southern Piedmont. The site consisted of 12 instrumented, tile-drained plots each 30 ft by 100 ft, located on nearly level slope (0-2%) Cecil sandy loam. Each treatment was replicated three times. There was no difference in nitrate leaching between no-tillage and conventional-tillage treatments in 1997. Poultry- litter-treated plots had a total nitrate nitrogen loss of 9.4 lb/acre compared to 5.9 lb/acre for ammonium-nitrate-treated plots. This difference between fertilizer sources is for all practical purposes non- significant and may have been due, at least in part, to a larger than expected N mineralization from poultry litter. There was no significant drainage in 1998 and thus we collected little effluent. These are encouraging results for those engaged in promoting no-tillage and poultry litter use in cotton production in the Southeast.

Last Modified: 9/2/2014
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