Submitted to: Soil Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 22, 2011
Publication Date: January 9, 2012
Citation: Jn-Baptiste, M., Sistani, K.R., Tewolde, H. 2012. Poultry manure application time impact on corn grain production in a crider silt loam. Soil Science. 177(1):47-55. Interpretive Summary: This study compared corn grain yield when poultry litter is applied in fall as opposed to the conventional spring time application and the differences in yield among commercial fertilizer and two rates of poultry litter (4 ton/acre and 8 ton/acre) for spring and fall applications. Although we found differences in soil nutrients between the two application times, there was no difference in soil nutrient uptake and corn grain yield between spring and fall application of commercial fertilizer and poultry litter. Four ton/acre of poultry litter resulted in 8700 kg ha-1 (138.7 bu/acre) and 8500 kg ha-1 (135.5 bu/acre) from fall and spring applications respectively. The low poultry litter rate was significantly lower than the high rate and the commercial fertilizer, but there was no significant difference in yield between commercial fertilizer and the high poultry litter rate, which averaged 9350 kg ha-1(149 bu/acre) and 9095 kg ha-1 (144 bu/acre) from fall and spring applications respectively. Therefore we conclude that poultry litter is an alternative to commercial fertilizer for corn production, in areas where it is readily available at a reasonable price. Moreover, fall application of poultry litter is potentially a better strategy for time and resource management for farmers than spring application. Applying poultry litter in the fall after harvest, makes use of already available labor and equipment, and saves time the following spring when farmers have small windows of opportunities for planting schedules.
Technical Abstract: With the growing interest in poultry litter (PL) use as nutrient sources, whether fall versus spring application timing is consequential to production, is pertinent. This study investigated the effects of fall and spring application of two rates of PL (9.0 Mg-ha-1 and 18.0 Mg-ha-1) and a 19-19-19 (N-P2O5-K2O) and a blend of commercial fertilizer (CF) (224 kg N ha-1) on soil nutrient availability, and yield of field corn. Only inorganic N and K were impacted by timing of PL application and the application time*sampled date interaction. Soil nutrient increases were predominant at the top 15 cm depth. Significantly higher concentrations of inorganic N observed from spring treated CF plots and those receiving the high PL rate (18 Mg-ha-1 of PL), but higher K observed from fall treated plots and those receiving the two rates of poultry litter. Significantly higher concentrations of inorganic N were observed from spring than fall treated CF plots when soil was sampled in July (27% and 29%) and either November or October (22% and 27%) in 2007 and 2008 respectively. Soil K concentrations were significantly higher from fall than spring treated plots when sampled in April (13%, 30% and 38%); 2006, 2007 and 2008 respectively. Nutrient uptake and grain yield were not influenced by application time of PL and CF. Differences among treatments were seen only in 2008 for grain yield; the higher rate of PL application resulted in 7% increase of grain yield compared to the lower rate but the high PL rate was not different from the CF treatment. Corn grain responses to N increased by all treatments significantly, but the higher PL and the CF averaged 7% greater concentration than the low PL rate; a 21% increase over control plots. The response was reversed for P; smallest concentrations observed from CF treatments; 10% greater than control, compared to 21 % (averaged) from the PL rates. Results from this study seem to indicate that fall application of poultry litter to corn potentially produces similar grain yield as the traditional spring application.