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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: NUTRIENT CYCLING AND UTILIZATION ON ORGANIC DAIRY FARMS

Location: New England Plant, Soil and Water Research Laboratory

Title: Soil Properties and Macro Cations Status Impacted by Long-Term Applied Poultry Litter

Authors
item HE, ZHONGQI
item Tazisong, I - ALABAMA A&M UNIV
item Senwo, Z - ALABAMA A&M UNIV
item Zhang, D - UNIV OF MAINE

Submitted to: Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 3, 2007
Publication Date: February 22, 2008
Citation: He, Z., Tazisong, I.A., Senwo, Z.N., Zhang, D. 2008. Soil properties and macro cations status impacted by long-term applied poultry litter. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis. 39:858-872.

Interpretive Summary: Poultry litter (PL) is a traditionally inexpensive and effective fertilizer to improve soil quality and agricultural productivity; however, over application to soils has raised concerns because excess nutrients in runoff could accelerate the eutrophication of fresh water bodies. A long-term field experiment where PL is applied to soils used for pasture growth has been maintained for nearly two decades at the Sand Mountain region of north Alabama, USA. In this work, we characterized several soil parameters impacted by the long-term applied litter. Our findings clearly support previous observations that long-term application of litter on pasture soils altered soil properties and macro cation levels. We found that most soil parameters analyzed in this study reached peak values with 10-yr applied litter, which did not correspond to the highest rates or cumulative amounts of applied litter. This observation suggests that there was a turning point of impact for applied litter around 10 years: prior to that the soil macro cations were altered positively due to accumulative functions. Continuous litter application may negatively alter a soil’s capacity to retain macro cations, leading to less impact observed in this study. In other words, pasture soils with more than 10 years of applied litter would have higher potential for to leaching and runoff. Information obtained from this study will be helpful in developing best management practices for land application of PL.

Technical Abstract: Poultry litter (PL) is a traditionally inexpensive and effective fertilizer to improve soil quality and agricultural productivity; however, over application to soils has raised concerns because excess nutrients in runoff could accelerate the eutrophication of fresh water bodies. A long-term field experiment of land application of PL to soils used for pasture growth has been maintained for nearly two decades at the Sand Mountain region of north Alabama, USA. PL application did not markedly affect soil electric conductivity, bulk density, Na or K levels. Soil pH, Ca and Mg were profoundly affected. Most soil parameters analyzed in this study reached peak values with 10 years of applied litter, which did not correspond to the highest rates or cumulative amounts of applied litter. This observation suggests that there was a turning point of impact for applied litter around 10 years: prior to that the soil macro cations were altered positively due to accumulative functions. Continuous litter application may negatively alter a soil’s capacity to retain macro cations, leading to less impact observed in this study. In other words, pasture soils with more than 10 years of applied litter would have higher potential for leaching and runoff. Information obtained from this study will be helpful in developing best management practices for land application of PL.

Last Modified: 8/19/2014
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