Location: National Soil Dynamics Laboratory
2006 Annual Report
Poor fertilizer application practices (both inorganic and organic) can lead to nutrient loss from agricultural land by runoff and leaching. The greatest potential for non-point P contribution to surface waters usually occurs in watersheds with intensive animal production. Non-point source pollution from agriculture has been identified as the leading source of water quality reduction by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), with estimates that agriculture causes the degradation of 60% of river miles, 50% of lake acres, and 34% of estuary acres. These non-point source nutrient losses can contribute to environmental degradation, eutrophication of surface waters, and possible human health risks. For example, massive algal blooms in surface waters from excess nutrients can lead to summer fish kills and unpalatable drinking water, while human health concerns arise from direct contact with blooms of toxic dinoflagellate algae (Pfiesteria piscicidia), and from the formation of carcinogenic trihalomethanes during water chlorination. In addition, a large (20,000 km2) hypoxic area (low dissolved oxygen) in the Gulf of Mexico has been attributed to pollution from nutrients.
Livestock production is the leading agriculture industry in the state of Alabama, with over 2.7 billion dollars in cash receipts in 2003. Broiler production alone accounted for over 40% of the state's agriculture cash receipts (1.84 billion dollars) in 2003, but also produced approximately 1.4 million tons of litter in that year. Manure collected from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) has traditionally been applied to fields near the operation because this is a practical means of both improving soil physical conditions and providing plant nutrients for crop and pasture production. However, long-term manure application to soils at rates exceeding plant uptake can result in elevated soil P levels and directly influence the amount of P found in runoff.
Study of the potential benefit of amendments to reduce P runoff losses will be completed.
Establish new treatments for long-term manure application study.
Year 2 (FY 2007)
Study of long-term effects on soil quality parameters from first 10 years of manure application will be completed.
Study of the soil test P and runoff P in calcareous soils rainfall simulation will be completed.
Study of soil quality and plant establishment on Army training grounds will be completed.
Develop a four-trench poultry litter applicator implement in conjunction with the industry partner and evaluate performance of the applicator through field experiments.
Year 3 (FY 2008)
Study of the manure N mineralization will be completed.
Year 4 (FY 2009)
Study of field variability impact on soil P chemistry will be completed.
Develop an eight-trench poultry litter applicator implement and bulk litter hopper jointly with the industry partner and evaluate performance of the system through cooperative field experiments.
Year 5 (FY 2010)
Study of long-term effects on soil quality parameters after 5 years of altered treatment will be completed.
Use the single-trench poultry litter applicator implement in cooperative research projects with ARS units from Mississippi State, MS; Bowling Green, KY; and Booneville, AR.
A one-row applicator for applying broiler litter in a shallow trench in soil was developed. The applicator is expected to be extremely useful in applying broiler litter in row crops and pastures, thereby allowing the nutrient-rich litter to be used beneficially on more crop land and pasture land while minimizing the potential for nutrients in the litter to adversely affect water quality.
This accomplishment is aligned with the Manure and Byproduct Utilization National Program (NP206), nutrient management component.
A farm-scale, eight-row, broiler litter applicator is likely to be available to farmers within the next four years. Data sets and interpretation have been provided to researchers in the public and private sectors. Descriptions and implications of our research projects have been provided to various individuals and groups visiting the National Soil Dynamics Laboratory. Presentations of research findings have been made to various groups.
An article appeared in the magazine Ag Professional, October 2003, p. 18-22. The article was a rewrite in laymen terms of a scientific article entitled, "Relationship of soil test phosphorus to runoff phosphorus in calcareous soils" by Torbert, H.A., T.C. Daniel, J.L. Lemunyon, and R.M. Jones. The article was also converted into a test which could be taken by the magazine's readers for continuing educational unit (CEU) credit.
Waste management research was highlighted in an article entitled, "Beating MSW into a soil-Improving Pulp". BioCycle p. 6-7 August 2004.
A presentation was given at the Southern Extension Research Activity 17, Information Exchange Group (SERA-IEG 17) workshops on "Impact of winter poultry litter manure application ban on reducing nutrient losses in Alabama,", Banff, Alberta, Canada July 27-29, 2005.
Invited to participate in a team organization meeting to identify goals for a Alabama Legislature funded initiative for Auburn University that is titled, "Agricultural Systems and the Environment: Products and Jobs from Poultry Waste", August 5, 2005.
The article, "Harmel, R.D., H.A. Torbert, B.E. Haggard, R. Haney, and M. Dozier. 2004. Water Quality Impacts of Converting to a Poultry Litter Fertilization Strategy." J. of Environ. Qual. 33:2229-2242, was selected for use in the ASA-CSA-SSSA technology Transfer Program. The article, "Busby, R., D.L. Gebhart, and H.A. Torbert. 2006. Effects of an uncomposted municipal waste processing byproduct on prairie grass establishment." Agron. J. 98(4):1073-1080, was selected for use in the ASA-CSA-SSSA technology Transfer Program.Brauer, D.K., Aiken, G.E., Pote, D.H., Livingston, S.J., Norton, L.D., Way, T.R., Edwards Jr, J.H. 2005. Amendment effects on soil test P after long-term applications of animal manures. Journal of Environmental Quality. 34:1682-1686.
Horn, R., Way, T.R., Rostek, J. 2003. Effect of repeated tractor wheeling on stress/strain properties and consequences on physical properties in structured arable soils. International Journal of Soil and Tillage Research. 73:101-106.
Armstrong, S.D., Tewolde, H., Way, T.R., Rowe, D.E., Sistani, K.R., Taylor, R.W. 2005. Subsurface band and surface broadcast application of poultry litter: effect on soil nitrogen spatial distribution. Mississippi Water Resources Research Conference Proceedings CD-ROM
Torbert III, H.A. 2006. Cost assessment of standard soil sampling. In: Wielopolski, L., editor. Proceedings of Emerging Modalities for Soil Carbon Analysis: Sampling Statistics and Economics Workshop, January 19-20, 2006, Upton, New York. BNL-75762-2006 formal Report 29. p. 57-59.
Watts, D.B., Torbert III, H.A., Prior, S.A., Balkcom, K.S. 2006. Tillage affects on n mineralization and losses of winter applied manure. In: Schwartz, R. C., Baumhardt, R.L., and Bell, J.M., editors. Proceedings of the 28th Annual Southern Conservation Systems Conference. Improving Conservation Technologies to Compete for Global Resources and Markets. June 26-28, 2006, Bushland, Texas. p. 196-204.
Torbert III, H.A., Gerik, T.J., Harman, W.L., Williams, J.R. 2005. Impact of winter poultry litter manure application ban on reducing nutrient losses in alabama [abstract]. Agronomy Abstracts, ASA. CDROM.
Watts, D.B., Torbert III, H.A., Prior, S.A. 2005. Carbon and nitrogen mineralization of soil under long-term tillage and manure application [abstract]. American Society of Agronomy. 2005 CDROM
Torbert III, H.A., Busby, R., Gebhart, D., Potter, K.N. 2006. Evaluation of a non-composted organic waste byproduct on soil restoration [abstract]. Agronomy Abstracts, ASA. CDROM.
Mitchell, C.C., Torbert III, H.A., Tyson, T.W. 2006. Temporary storage of poultry broiler litter [abstract]. Agronomy Abstracts, ASA. CDROM.
Busby, R., Gebhart, D.L., Torbert III, H.A. 2006. Vegetation restoration using undecomposed organic waste [abstract]. ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts. CDROM.
Griffin, T.S., Honeycutt, C.W., Albrecht, S.L., Hubbard, R.K., Powell, J.M., Sistani, K.R., Torbert III, H.A., Wienhold, B.J., Woodbury, B.L. 2005. Standardizing aerobic incubation methods: is it possible?. American Society of Agronomy Abstracts. ON CD
Boyer, C.R., Fain, G.B., Gilliam, C.H., Torbert III, H.A., Gallagher, T.V., Sibley, J.L. 2006. Evaluation of freshly chipped pine tree substrate for container-grown lantana camera. HortScience. 41(4):1027.