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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Using Agricultural and Industrial Byproducts to Improve Crop Production Systems and Environment Quality

Location: National Soil Dynamics Laboratory

Title: Surface transport of nutrients from surface broadcast and subsurface-banded broiler litter

Authors
item Lamba, Jasmeet -
item Way, Thomas
item Srivastava, Puneet -
item Sen, Sumit -
item Wood, C -
item Yoo, Kyung -

Submitted to: Transactions of the ASABE
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 30, 2012
Publication Date: June 12, 2013
Citation: Lamba, J., Way, T.R., Srivastava, P., Sen, S., Wood, C.W., Yoo, K.H. 2013. Surface transport of nutrients from surface broadcast and subsurface-banded broiler litter. Transactions of the ASABE. 55(3):979-985.

Interpretive Summary: Broiler chicken litter, which is a mixture of chicken manure and a bedding material, is commonly used as a fertilizer on pastures and cropland in major broiler-producing states. Poultry litter is typically land-applied by broadcasting the litter over the soil surface. Rain falling on soil to which poultry litter has been applied, may carry phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) nutrients from the soil into streams, lakes, and other water bodies. Phosphorus from fields fertilized with broiler litter contributes to eutrophication and growth of toxic algae in surface waters. A prototype implement for applying poultry litter in shallow trenches and covering the litter with soil has been developed. An experiment was conducted to determine amounts of nutrients transported in surface runoff water for the conventional method of surface broadcast application of litter and for this new method of subsurface-band application of litter. The experiment was conducted on tall fescue pasture plots using rainfall simulation on a sandy loam soil in northeastern Alabama. Broiler litter was applied at the rate of 5.0 Mg/ha and surface runoff was produced for one hour using simulated rainfall at a moderately high intensity rainfall rate of 70 mm/h. Concentrations of P and N nutrients in runoff water from the plots were significantly greater for the conventional surface-applied litter plots than for subsurface-banded litter. The concentration of TP in runoff was reduced by 83% and the concentration of PO4-P was reduced by 88% for subsurface-banded litter, compared to surface-applied litter. The experiment shows that subsurface band application of litter can substantially reduce nutrient losses in surface runoff.

Technical Abstract: Broiler chicken litter is commonly used as a fertilizer on pastures and cropland in major broiler-producing states. However, phosphorus (P) loss from fields fertilized with broiler litter contributes to eutrophication and growth of toxic algae in surface waters. Recently, to reduce surface transport of P and other nutrients, a prototype implement for applying poultry litter in subsurface bands was developed. An experiment was conducted to quantify the transport of P in surface runoff water for surface-applied and subsurface-banded application of broiler litter. The experiment was conducted on tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) pasture plots using rainfall simulation on a sandy loam soil in northeastern Alabama. Broiler litter was applied at the rate of 5.0 Mg/ha and surface runoff was produced for one hour using 70 mm/h simulated rainfall. Results show that less than 10% of the rainfall contributed to surface runoff and the rest infiltrated. Runoff concentrations of total P (TP), ortho-P (PO4-P), nitrate-N (NO3-N), and ammonium-N (NH4-N) were significantly greater for surface-applied litter plots than for subsurface-banded litter. The concentration of TP in runoff was reduced by 83% and the concentration of PO4-P was reduced by 88% for subsurface-banded litter, compared to surface-applied litter. The loading of TP, PO4-P, NO3-N and NH4-N were also significantly greater for surface-applied litter plots than for subsurface-banded litter plots. There was no significant difference observed in nutrient concentrations and loadings of all nutrients between control and subsurface-banded litter plots. The experiment shows that subsurface band application of litter can substantially reduce nutrient losses in surface runoff.

Last Modified: 9/20/2014
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