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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: Implement with adjustable band spacing for subsurface band application of poultry litter

Authors
item Way, Thomas
item Watts, Dexter
item Tewolde, Haile
item Sistani, Karamat
item Torbert, Henry

Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 15, 2013
Publication Date: December 31, 2013
Citation: Way, T.R., Watts, D.B., Tewolde, H., Sistani, K.R., Torbert III, H.A. 2013. Implement with adjustable band spacing for subsurface band application of poultry litter. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 29(6):831-839.

Interpretive Summary: Broiler chicken litter is a mixture of chicken manure and a bedding material, and is a solid material. This litter is commonly used as a fertilizer on pastures and cropland. Poultry litter is typically land-applied by broadcasting the litter on the soil surface. Rain falling on soil to which poultry litter has been applied, may carry phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) nutrients from the soil into streams, lakes, and other water bodies. Phosphorus from fields fertilized with broiler litter contributes to eutrophication and growth of toxic algae in surface waters. Liquid manure, such as manure from dairy cows, hogs, and laying hens, is often land-applied by injecting it beneath the soil surface. This subsurface injection of liquid manure is commonly recommended as a method of controlling odor and reducing nutrient losses, compared to surface broadcast application. An implement for subsurface application for solid manure, such as poultry litter, has not been available, so a prototype implement for applying poultry litter in shallow trenches and covering the litter with soil was developed at the USDA-ARS National Soil Dynamics Lab (Auburn, AL). The implement is equipped with four trenching devices, so it applies litter in four subsurface bands simultaneously. The implement works well for side-dressing litter to row crops, whereby each of the four trenching devices forms a trench close to a crop row, litter is applied in each trench, and soil is pushed over top of the litter band. Also, the implement works well for subsurface band application of litter in pastures.

Technical Abstract: Broiler litter is commonly used as a fertilizer on pastures and cropland. Poultry litter is typically land-applied by broadcasting the litter on the soil surface. Rain falling on soil to which poultry litter has been applied, may carry phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) nutrients from the soil into streams, lakes, and other water bodies. Phosphorus from fields fertilized with broiler litter contributes to eutrophication and growth of toxic algae in surface waters. Subsurface injection of liquid manure is commonly recommended as a method of controlling odor and reducing nutrient losses, compared to surface broadcast application. An implement for subsurface application for solid manure, such as poultry litter, has not been available, so a prototype implement for subsurface band application of poultry litter was developed at the USDA-ARS National Soil Dynamics Lab (Auburn, AL). The first version of the implement applied litter in a single subsurface band. A four-trench (four-row) prototype implement was then developed and its band spacing is adjustable from 10 to 40 in. in 1 in. increments. The implement performs well in applying poultry litter as a side-dress to row crops and in applying litter to pastures. Typical band spacings of 10 to 15 in. have been used for pastures. The single band implement has been used in row crop and pasture experiments. The implement has performed well, compared to conventional surface broadcast application, in reducing concentrations of nutrients and E. coli in runoff water following simulated rainfall. The single band implement has also improved cotton lint yield relative to the yield from surface broadcast application of litter. The four-band implement was used in a pasture experiment and N and P nutrients in runoff water following simulated rainfall were reduced by 86 to 91% for this subsurface band application of broiler litter, compared to surface broadcast application.

Last Modified: 8/30/2014
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