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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Using Agricultural and Industrial Byproducts to Improve Crop Production Systems and Environment Quality

Location: National Soil Dynamics Laboratory

Title: Long-Term tillage and poultry litter impacts on soybean and corn grain yield

Authors
item Watts, Dexter
item Torbert, Henry

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 23, 2011
Publication Date: September 1, 2011
Citation: Watts, D.B., Torbert III, H.A. 2011. Long-Term tillage and poultry litter impacts on soybean and corn grain yield. Agronomy Journal. 103:1479-1486.

Interpretive Summary: To develop effective conservation agriculture systems, cropping systems need to be evaluated over long time periods. This study evaluated cropping sequences of corn, soybean, and corn-soybean rotations with wheat covers in conventional, strip, and no-tillage systems, following poultry litter additions to wheat cover over a ten year period. The study was conducted from 1991 to 2001 on a sandy loam soil. Wheat received either poultry litter or equivalent inorganic N. Corn was fertilized with inorganic fertilizer in spring, while soybean receive no fertilizer. Corn yields were influenced by tillage but soybean yields were not. Crop rotations significantly impacted soybean yield in 1992, 1995, and 1998, with higher yields observed in 1992, and 1995, and lower yields in 1998. Poultry litter significantly increased soybean yield eight of the nine years evaluated. This study suggests that poultry litter use for these crop rotations in conservation tillage systems could increase sustainable yield production.

Technical Abstract: Reduced tillage, poultry litter applications, crop rotations, and winter cover cropping are management practices that could be used with conservation tillage systems to increase yields compared to conventional monoculture systems. This study evaluated cropping sequences of corn (Zea mays L.), soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr], and corn-soybean rotations with wheat covers in conventional, strip, and no-tillage systems, following poultry litter additions to wheat cover. The study was conducted from 1991 to 2001 on a Hartselle fine sandy loam (fine-loamy, siliceous, subactive, thermic Typic Hapludults). Poultry litter (112 kg N ha-1) was applied to wheat each year in fall. Wheat not receiving poultry litter received equivalent inorganic N. Corn was fertilized with inorganic fertilizer in spring with 56 kg N ha-1 at planting followed by 168 kg N ha-1 three weeks after emergence; soybean receive no fertilizer. Corn yields were influenced by tillage in 1991 – 1998, and 2001 with conventional tillage producing greater yields, except in 1993 (strip tillage) and 2001 (no-till). Poultry litter increased corn yield in 1991, 1997, and 1998. Crop rotations increased corn yield for all years, except 2001. Soybean yields were not impacted by differences in tillage. Crop rotations significantly impacted soybean yield in 1992, 1995, and 1998, with higher yields observed in 1992, and 1995, and lower yields in 1998. Poultry litter significantly increased soybean yield eight of the nine years evaluated. This study suggests that poultry litter use for these crop rotations in conservation tillage systems could increase sustainable yield production.

Last Modified: 7/22/2014