SAFE MANAGEMENT AND USE OF MANURE, BIOSOLIDS AND INDUSTRIAL BYPRODUCTS
Location: Genetics and Precision Agriculture Research
Title: Continuous and residual effects of broiler litter application to cotton on soil properties
Submitted to: Soil Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 23, 2011
Publication Date: December 1, 2011
Citation: Adeli, A., Tewolde, H., Rowe, D.E., Sistani, K.R. 2011. Continuous and residual effects of broiler litter application to cotton on soil properties. Soil Science. 176:668-675.
Interpretive Summary: As agricultural input costs have narrowed growers’ profits, interest in using poultry litter as an important source of plant nutrients, particularly N and P has increased. Unlike commercial fertilizers, poultry litter derived nutrients, particularly N, release slowly and persist in the soil beyond the first year of application. Since only a fraction of N in the manure becomes available in the first year of application, the potential residual effects of long-term manure application exists and may maintain crop yield when manure fertilization is terminated. Limited information is available about the residual effects of broiler litter on soil chemical, physical and biological characteristics after long-term broiler litter termination. In addition, residual effects of manure fertilization have been reported where excessive rates of manure were applied. The residual values of broiler litters on soil characteristics, where broiler litter applications were agronomically and environmentally sound is not well documented. Only a few studies have evaluated the residual effect of broiler litter on crop production relative to inorganic fertilizer within a year of termination. Evaluation residual effects of broiler litter after long-term termination on soil properties need to be considered as this may provide useful information for producers, farm advisors and government regulators for developing appropriate broiler litter management practices for sustainable crop production and to be accounted for in nutrient management plans. The objectives of this study were to determine the residual effects of broiler litter fertilization on soil chemical, physical and biological properties with (i) continuous application of broiler litter to cotton over 6 yr and (ii) termination of broiler litter 3 yr after broiler litter had been applied for 3 yr.
Application of broiler litter to soils provides nutrients for plant growth and improves soil quality characteristics. However, little is known about these effects after broiler litter application is terminated. Field studies were conducted at Cruger and Coffeeville in Mississippi representing no-till and tillage systems to evaluate soil quality indicators after broiler litter had been applied for 3 yr. Broiler litter was continuously applied to cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) at annual rates of 0, 2.2, 4.5, 6.7 Mg ha-1, 4.5 Mg ha-1 plus 67 kg N ha-1 supplement, and recommended commercial inorganic N-P-K fertilizers from 2002 to 2007. After three consecutive applications from 2002 to 2004, each plot was divided into two sub-plots in 2005 when one continued to receive the same treatments while the other sub-plot was not fertilized from 2005 to 2007. Soil samples were taken at the end of the experiment in 2007. Continuous application of broiler litter over 6 yr provided liming effects, enhanced soil nutrient levels, and improved soil quality indicators compared to commercial fertilizer and the control. The residual of applying broiler litter for 3 yr at rates >2.2 Mg ha-1 increased soil pH, total soil C and N, and increased soil test P levels relative to chemical fertilizer at Coffeeville (no-till) but not at Cruger (tilled). We conclude that when broiler litter is applied as fertilizer to cotton at agronomic rates, there is a residual value to broiler litter that maintains adequate soil fertility levels for several years after broiler litter is terminated, particularly in a no-till system.