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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 Title: Nutrient source and tillage impact on corn grain yield and soil properties

Authors
item Sistani, Karamat
item Mikha, Maysoon
item Warren, Jason -
item Gilfillen, B -
item Acosta-Martinez, Veronica

Submitted to: Soil Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 10, 2010
Publication Date: December 1, 2011
Citation: Sistani, K.R., Mikha, M.M., Warren, J.G., Gilfillen, B., Acosta Martinez, V. 2011. Nutrient source and tillage impact on corn grain yield and soil properties. Soil Science. 175(12):593-600.

Interpretive Summary: Based on USDA National Agricultural Statistics, more than 2 billion kg of broiler litter (a combination of manure plus bedding materials), which contain significant quantity of plant nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus is generated annually. Many research studies have reported that the application of poultry litter increased forage dry matter and corn grain yield. However, little information is available on crop performance and soil quality as affected by these plant nutrient sources for mid-south region. The objectives of this study were, (1) to evaluate the long-term use of poultry litter and dairy manure as organic sources of plant nutrients for corn production as affected by different tillage and application rates; (2) to investigate corn performance (yields) and selected soil chemical properties (nutrient content, organic matter, soil pH) under different rates of application of poultry litter, dairy manure and chemical fertilizer and different tillage practices. This study examined corn crop yields, soil nutrients and organic matter content under two rates (low or high) of chemical fertilizer (134 and 403 Kg N/ha) and poultry litter and dairy manure (each applied at 4.5 and 13.5 Mg/ha) compared to a non-treated control, which were under two tillage practices (no-till and incorporated systems). The high rate of poultry litter application produced similar grain yield as chemical fertilizer application in all four years. However, dairy manure produced significantly smaller grain yield than poultry litter and chemical fertilizer treatments. This study indicated that poultry litter as a primary fertilizer at the rate of 13.5 Mg/ha applied in four consecutive years on a silt loam soil produced corn grain yields similar to chemical fertilizer under both no-till and incorporated systems.

Technical Abstract: Large amounts of animal manure, particularly poultry litter and dairy manure are generated in the southeastern USA where corn (Zea Mays L.) is extensively grown. However, little information is available for this region about the value of poultry and dairy manure as an economical alternative source of nutrients for corn production and their long-term impacts on soil properties. This study examined corn crop yields, soil nutrients and organic matter content under two rates (low or high) of chemical fertilizer (134 and 403 Kg N/ha) and poultry litter and dairy manure (each applied at 4.5 and 13.5 Mg/ha) compared to a non-treated control, which were under two tillage practices (no-till and incorporated systems). Treatments were replicated four times in a randomized complete block design. Poultry litter, dairy manure, and chemical fertilizer were applied on the same plots and corn was planted each year from 2004 to 2007. Soil samples were taken yearly in the spring prior to treatment application to evaluate the status of the residual nutrients in soil. No significant differences of corn grain yield between the two tillage practices were observed in all four years. The high rate of poultry litter application produced similar grain yield as chemical fertilizer application in all four years. However, dairy manure produced significantly smaller grain yield than poultry litter and chemical fertilizer treatments except for the high rate of dairy manure in 2006. After four years of poultry litter application, Mehlich-3 P increased from an initial 31.4 mg/kg to 63 mg/kg for 4.5 Mg/ha rate and to 178 mg/kg for 13.5 Mg/ha rate. More specifically, 8.3 kg/ha of P applied as poultry litter increased soil Mehlich-3 P by 1 mg/kg after four years of application. The increase was smaller for dairy manure and very negligible for chemical fertilizer compare to poultry litter. This study indicated that poultry litter as a primary fertilizer at the rate of 13.5 Mg/ha applied in four consecutive years on a silt loam soil produced corn grain yields similar to chemical fertilizer under both no-till and incorporated systems. It also kept the residual soil test P, Cu and Zn levels below values considered to be harmful to surface water or the crop.

Last Modified: 11/28/2014
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