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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: POULTRY MANURE MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES TO REDUCE NON-POINT SOURCE PHOSPHORUS POLLUTION Title: Phosphatase activities in soil after repeated untreated and alum-treated poultry litter applications

Authors
item Tomlinson, P - UNIV OF ARKANSAS
item Savin, M - UNIV OF ARKANSAS
item Moore, Philip

Submitted to: Biology and Fertility of Soils
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 4, 2007
Publication Date: November 1, 2007
Citation: Tomlinson, P.J., Savin, M.C., Moore Jr, P.A. 2007. Phosphatase activities in soil after repeated untreated and alum-treated poultry litter applications. Biology and Fertility of Soils. 44:613-622.

Interpretive Summary: Treating poultry litter with alum has received considerable attention as an economically viable best management practice for reducing ammonia emissions from poultry houses and reducing phosphorus runoff from fields fertilized with litter. The objective of this study was to determine how repeated annual applications of alum-treated and untreated poultry litter affected enzyme (phosphatase) activities in soil. Small plots cropped to tall fescue were amended annually since 1995 with either 2.24 or 8.96 Mg/ha of alum-treated (AL-1 or AL-4, respectively) or untreated poultry litter (PL-1 or PL-4, respectively) or equivalent rates by N content of ammonium nitrate (AN-1 or AN-4, respectively). Soil pH, total C (CTot), microbial biomass C, double-stranded deoxyribonucleic acid (dsDNA), Mehlich-III P (M3P), water-soluble P (WSP), and acid and alkaline phosphatase activities were measured before and 10 days, 1 month, and 6 months after fertilizer applications in 2003 and 2004. The results showed that Mehlich III P and acid phosphatase activities were higher in AL-4 soil than in all other treatments. In contrast, WSP was higher in the plots fertilized with untreated litter. Likewise, alkaline phosphatase activities were significantly higher in PL-4 compared to AL-4. In contrast, alkaline phosphatase activities were significantly lower in AN-4, the treatment with the lowest pH. Additionally, alkaline phosphatase activities expressed per unit CTot or dsDNA remained significantly greater in PL-4 and significantly lower in AN-4, than all other treatments. Thus, some factor beyond an increase in soil C or microbial biomass contributed to elevated alkaline phosphatase activities in PL-4, despite increased WSP in the treatment receiving the high rate of untreated litter.

Technical Abstract: Repeated additions of untreated and aluminum sulfate (alum)-treated poultry litter to soil affect ecology and consequent nutrient dynamics. The objective of this study was to determine how repeated annual poultry litter additions affected phosphatase activities in concert with changes in soil phosphorus (P). Field plots were amended annually since 1995 with either 2.24 or 8.96 Mg/ha of alum-treated (AL-1 or AL-4, respectively) or untreated poultry litter (PL-1 or PL-4, respectively) or equivalent rates by N content of ammonium nitrate (AN-1 or AN-4, respectively). Soil pH, total C (CTot), microbial biomass C, double-stranded deoxyribonucleic acid (dsDNA), Mehlich-III P (M3P), water-soluble P (WSP), and acid and alkaline phosphatase activities were measured before and 10 days, 1 month, and 6 months after fertilizer applications in 2003 and 2004. M3P and acid phosphatase activities were higher in AL-4 soil than in all other treatments. Higher WSP in the untreated compared to the alum-treated litter resulted in higher WSP in the soil amended with untreated litter. At the same time, alkaline phosphatase activities were significantly higher in PL-4 compared to AL-4. In contrast, alkaline phosphatase activities were significantly lower in AN-4, the treatment with the lowest pH. Additionally, alkaline phosphatase activities expressed per unit CTot or dsDNA remained significantly greater in PL-4 and significantly lower in AN-4, than all other treatments. Thus, some factor beyond an increase in soil C or microbial biomass contributed to elevated alkaline phosphatase activities in PL-4, despite increased WSP in the treatment receiving the high rate of untreated litter.

Last Modified: 12/20/2014
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