Submitted to: Soil and Water Conservation Society
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 6, 2003
Publication Date: July 26, 2003
Citation: POTE, D.H., AIKEN, G.E. 2003. INTO PERENNIAL GRASSLAND SOILS: FORAGE PRODUCTION EFFECTS. SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION SOCIETY. p. 81. Technical Abstract: Poultry litter provides a rich nutrient source for perennial forages, but the usual practice of surface-applying litter to grazinglands can degrade water quality by allowing nutrients to be transported from fields in surface runoff, while much of the ammonium-N volatilizes and escapes into the atmosphere. In a previous study, the authors used a knifing technique to move litter from the soil surface into the root zone with minimal disturbance of the grass, thatch, and soil structure; and observed that nutrient losses in runoff decreased substantially. This incorporation technique also showed a strong tendency to increase forage yield, most likely by decreasing ammonium-N volatilization and thus retaining more N in the soil for plant growth. In follow-up research, the authors hypothesized that poultry litter incorporation could improve grazingland productivity by providing better distribution of forage yield during the course of the growing season, and by increasing total forage yield and quality. Field plots were located on silt loam soil (8-10% slopes) with well-established bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon L.) and mixed grass forage. Poultry litter was applied (5.6 Mg/ha) by one of three methods: surface-applied, incorporated, or surface-applied on soil-aeration cuts. There were six treatment replications and three controls (no litter). Results showed that poultry litter incorporation generally increased forage quality and yield, especially later in the growing season when it is needed most by growing calves.