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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: EFFICIENT MANAGEMENT AND USE OF ANIMAL MANURE TO PROTECT HUMAN HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY

Location: Food Animal Environmental Systems Research Unit

Title: Influence of Poultry Litter Application Methods on the Longevity of Nutrient and E. coli in Runoff from Tall Fescue Pasture

Authors
item Sistani, Karamat
item Bolster, Carl
item Way, Thomas
item Torbert, Henry
item Pote, Daniel
item Watts, Dexter

Submitted to: Water, Air, and Soil Pollution
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 23, 2009
Publication Date: January 26, 2010
Repository URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10113/38198
Citation: Sistani, K.R., Bolster, C.H., Way, T.R., Torbert III, H.A., Pote, D.H., Watts, D.B. 2010. Influence of Poultry Litter Application Methods on the Longevity of Nutrient and E. coli in Runoff from Tall Fescue Pasture. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution. 206:3-12.

Interpretive Summary: Most of the U.S. Broiler production is located in the southeastern United States, which is a major segment of the region farm economy. Poultry litter is generally surface applied to pastures and hay fields year-round to supply plant nutrients, particularly nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). Runoff from litter-applied land has the potential to transport nutrients and pathogenic microorganisms to nearby surface water. Proper land application of animal manure is critical to water quality in watersheds with significant livestock numbers. With regard to permanent pasture systems, inability to incorporate waste materials leads to increased nutrient concentration such as phosphorus (P), nitrogen (N), copper, and zinc and pathogenic microorganisms near the soil surface. Currently, broadcasting is a common method of litter application on soil in many parts of U.S. In this study, we used rainfall simulations to examine the effect of broiler litter application methods on the longevity of nutrient and E. coli losses in runoff by successive runoff events. Total phosphorus, inorganic nitrogen and E. coli concentrations were all significantly greater in runoff from broadcast litter application than the subsurface litter banding treatments. The total phosphorus losses from broadcast litter applications averaged 6.5 times those from subsurface litter applications. The average losses of nitrate nitrogen and total suspended solids from subsurface litter banding plots were 358 g ha-1 and 68 kg ha-1 compared to 462 g ha-1 and 60 kg ha-1 for the broadcast method, respectively. This study shows that subsurface banding of broiler litter into perennial grassland can substantially reduce nutrient and pathogen losses in runoff compared to the traditional surface-broadcast practice.

Technical Abstract: Significant quantities of the broiler (chicken, Gallus gallus domesticus) litter produced in the U.S. are being applied to pasture lands. The traditional surface- broadcast application of animal manure onto permanent pasture, however, may lead to high concentration of nutrients and pathogenic microorganisms near the soil surface that could be transported off site by runoff water. Incorporation of poultry litter through subsurface banding into a perennial forage system has not been thoroughly evaluated. In this study, we used rainfall simulations to examine the effect of broiler litter application methods on the longevity of nutrient and E. coli losses in runoff by successive runoff events. Runoff plots were constructed on Hartsells fine sandy loam (Typic Hapludults) soil with permanent Kentucky 31 tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) pasture in Crossville, AL. Treatments included two methods of litter application (surface broadcast and subsurface banding), commercial fertilizer, and control (no litter or fertilizer applied). To evaluate the longevity of nutrient losses, simulated rainfall was applied to each plot on days 1, 7, and 14 following litter and fertilizer applications. Total P (TP), inorganic N and E. coli concentrations were all significantly greater in runoff from broadcast litter application than the subsurface litter banding treatments. The TP losses from broadcast litter applications averaged 6.5 times those from subsurface litter applications. About 81% of the runoff TP concentration was in the form of dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP) for both litter-application methods. The average losses of NO3-N and total suspended solids (TSS) from subsurface litter banding plots were 358 g ha-1 and 68 kg ha-1 compared to 462 g ha-1 and 60 kg ha-1 for the broadcast method, respectively. This study shows that subsurface banding of broiler litter into perennial grassland can substantially reduce nutrient and pathogen losses in runoff compared to the traditional surface-broadcast practice.

Last Modified: 4/17/2014