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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MANURE MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE AIR AND WATER QUALITY

Location: Poultry Production and Products Safety Research

Title: Long-term Applications of Untreated and Alum-treated Poultry Litter Drive Soil Nitrogen Concentrations and Associated Microbial Community Dynamics

Authors
item Tomlinson, Peter -
item Savin, Mary -
item Moore, Philip

Submitted to: Biology and Fertility of Soils
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 25, 2014
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Aluminum sulfate (alum)-treatment of poultry litter reduces ammonia emissions, potentially altering the nitrogen cycling after application to soil. The objective of this research was to assess if long-term annual application of untreated or alum-treated poultry litters or ammonium nitrate resulted in detectable differences in N concentrations and cycling in the soil. Soil N concentrations , Beta-glucosaminidase activity, and ammonia oxidizer community diversity were measured prior to, 10 days, and 1 and 6 months following application for two years in small plots fertilized with either 2.24 or 8.96 Mg litter ha-1 or equivalent N rates of ammonium nitrate. Fertilizer applied at the low rate did not increase inorganic N or enzyme activity, but did increase soil N in all treatments relative to the control, while pH was impacted differently by each fertilizer and there were few significant changes in microbial biomass. Soil N, microbial biomass N, and Beta-glucosaminidase activity were significantly higher in the alum-treated and untreated poultry litter compared to other treatments at the high rate. Soil inorganic N increased significantly 10 d following application in the high alum-treated and ammonium nitrate treatments but not untreated poultry litter. The ammonia oxidizer communities in plots fertilized with the high rates alum-treated and untreated poultry litter treatments were similar to each other and more closely related to the community in the ammonium nitrate treatment than the control. All fertilizers applied at the high rate altered the nitrifier community diversity; however, the inputs of both poultry litters increased microbial biomass and enzyme activity, indicators of soil quality.

Technical Abstract: Aluminum sulfate (alum)-treatment retains ammonia in poultry litter, potentially altering nitrogen cycling after application to soil. The objective of this research was to assess if eight and nine years of annual application of untreated or alum-treated poultry litters or ammonium nitrate have resulted in detectable differences in N concentrations and cycling in the soil. Soil N concentrations , ß-glucosaminidase activity, and ammonia oxidizer community diversity were measured prior to, 10 days, and 1 and 6 months following application for two years in soil receiving either 2.24 or 8.96 Mg litter ha-1 or equivalent N rates of ammonium nitrate. Fertilizer applied at the low rate did not increase inorganic N or enzyme activity, but did increase soil N in all treatments relative to the control, while pH was impacted differently by each fertilizer and there were few significant changes in microbial biomass. Soil N, microbial biomass N, and ß-glucosaminidase activity were significantly higher in the alum-treated and untreated poultry litter compared to other treatments at the high rate. Soil inorganic N increased significantly 10 d following application in the high alum-treated and ammonium nitrate treatments but not untreated poultry litter. Ammonia oxidizer community in the high alum-treated and untreated poultry litter treatments were similar to each other and more closely related to the community in the ammonium nitrate treatment than the control. All fertilizers applied at the high rate altered the nitrifier community diversity; however, the inputs of both poultry litters increased microbial biomass and enzyme activity, indicators of soil quality.

Last Modified: 11/25/2014
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