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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: Factors affecting arsenic and copper runoff from pastures fertilized with poultry litter

Authors
item Delaune, Paul -
item Moore, Philip

Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 18, 2014
Publication Date: July 14, 2014
Citation: Delaune, P.B., Moore Jr, P.A. 2014. Factors affecting arsenic and copper runoff from pastures fertilized with poultry litter. Journal of Environmental Management. 43:1417-1423.

Interpretive Summary: Arsenic (As) and copper (Cu) runoff from poultry litter have received more attention in recent years, although the exact effect of these metals on the environment is unknown. The objective of this study was to determine what factors influence As and Cu runoff from pastures fertilized with poultry litter. Rainfall simulations were conducted on small plots cropped to tall fescue to determine how As and Cu were affected by; 1) alum additions to poultry litter; 2) diet modification using phytase and high available phosphorus (HAP) corn; 3) fertilizer type; 4) poultry litter application rate; and 5) time until the first runoff event after poultry litter application. Results showed that increasing alum additions to poultry litter significantly decreased As and Cu concentrations in runoff water. Although Cu concentrations were highest in runoff from poultry litter from birds fed phytase diets, compared to other diets, diet modification had no effect on As runoff. Metal runoff was higher from poultry litter than from commercial P fertilizer. Concentrations of As and Cu in runoff water increased with increasing poultry litter application rates and decreased with time until the first runoff event. These data indicate that adding alum to poultry litter, a cost-effective best management practice which also results in lower phosphorus (P) runoff and ammonia (NH3) emissions, may be one of the most effective tools in reducing metal runoff.

Technical Abstract: Heavy metal runoff from soils fertilized with poultry litter has received increasing attention in recent years, although it is not really known if heavy runoff from poultry litter poses a significant threat to the environment. The objective of this study was to evaluate arsenic (As) and copper (Cu) concentrations in runoff water from plots receiving poultry litter applications. Treatments included the effects of 1) alum application rates to poultry litter; 2) litter from birds fed modified diets; 3) fertilizer type; 4) poultry litter application rate; and 5) time until the first runoff event occurs after poultry litter application. Rainfall simulators were used to cause continuous runoff from fertilized plots. Runoff samples were collected and analyzed for As and Cu concentrations. Results showed that increasing alum additions to poultry litter significantly decreased As and Cu concentrations in runoff water. Copper concentrations were highest in runoff from poultry litter from birds fed phytase diets, compared to other diets. Diet modification had no effect on As runoff. Triple superphosphate applications resulted in the lowest heavy metal concentrations in runoff water among all fertilizer treatments, while normal poultry litter resulted in the highest concentrations. Heavy metal concentrations in runoff water were also shown to increase with increasing poultry litter application rates and decreased with time until the first runoff event. These data indicate that adding alum to poultry litter, a cost-effective best management practice which also results in lower phosphorus (P) runoff and ammonia (NH3) emissions, may be one of the most effective tools in reducing metal runoff.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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