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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Effect of Pasture Renovation on Nutrient Runoff from Pastures Fertilized with Manure

Authors
item Moore, Philip
item Formica, Sandi - AR DEPT OF ENVIR QUALITY
item Van Epps, Matt - AR DEPT OF ENVIR QUALITY
item Delaune, Paul - UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS

Submitted to: Livestock Environment International Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 15, 2005
Publication Date: May 18, 2005
Citation: Moore Jr, P.A., Formica, S.J., Van Epps, M., Delaune, P.B. 2005. Effect of pasture renovation on nutrient runoff from pastures fertilized with manure. In: Proceedings of the 7th International Symposium on Livestock Environment, American Society of Agricultural Engineers, May 18-20, 2005, Beijing, China. p. 301.

Interpretive Summary: Pasture renovators (aerators) can increase pasture productivity during dry years. The objective of this study was to find out if renovators could reduce nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from soils fertilized with manure. Two sites were chosen in the Piney Creek Basin in Arkansas for this study. There were three treatments; unfertilized, swine manure or chicken litter. Renovating resulted in a lot more infiltration in the soil. This caused a reduction in the amount of runoff. On average the amount of runoff was reduced by 45% with renovation. Total phosphorus losses in runoff were 43% lower from soils that had been renovated versus unrenovated soils. Likewise, nitrogen runoff was 55% lower from renovated land. Forage yields were different the first time we did the study, probably because we rained on the same plots that we used for yields. The following year we measured yields from other plots and found renovation increased yields by 27%. This study indicates that renovation or aeration may be a best management practice that increases yields while reducing pollution.

Technical Abstract: Pasture renovators, which are also known as aerators, are used by growers to increase pasture productivity. The increased productivity is believed to be due to increased infiltration of rainwater, since yield increases are normally only observed during drier years when water is limiting growth. If infiltration is significantly increased by renovating, then runoff should be decreased. Reductions in the amount of water running off pastures should result in reductions in phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) runoff. The objectives of this study were to determine the effects of pasture renovation on pasture hydrology (infiltration and surface runoff), nutrient (P and N) runoff, and forage production. Two sites located within the Piney Creek Basin in Arkansas, USA, were selected for this study. There were 3 fertilizer treatments for each soil; unfertilized, 8.97 Mg/ha of poultry litter (4 tons/acre), and 46,728 L/ha swine manure (5,000 gal/acre). Rainfall simulations were conducted after 1 day, 3 mo and 13 mo after renovation in 2001 and 2002. The time to runoff was significantly longer on renovated land, the amount of infiltration was greater and the volume of runoff was less than that on unrenovated land. On average the amount of runoff was reduced by 45% with renovation, which translated into reductions in nutrient runoff of roughly the same magnitude. Total P loads in runoff were reduced by 43% with renovation; total N loads were reduced by 55%. Forage yields were not different on this first study, probably because the plots received simulated rainfall during dry periods of the year. Hence, forage yields were measured on a second study the following year. Pasture renovation significantly increased yields (27% higher on renovated plots). These data indicate that pasture renovation is a best management practice that can be used to reduce nutrient runoff from pastures, while improving productivity.

Last Modified: 12/22/2014
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