Location: Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center
Title: Does Proximity to Subsurface Poultry Litter Affect Corn Seedling Survival and Growth? Authors
Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: June 28, 2012
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Poultry litter provides a rich nutrient source for crops, but the usual practice of surface broadcasting litter can degrade water quality by allowing storm runoff to transport nutrients into streams and lakes, while much of the ammonia N escapes into the atmosphere. Subsurface application of litter provides more efficient use of valuable crop nutrients, and helps prevent water-quality problems, ammonia volatilization, and unpleasant odors. To make subsurface application of dry litter a practical management option for no-till systems, a USDA-ARS research team has developed tractor-drawn applicators that bury the litter in shallow (8-cm deep) parallel bands beneath the soil surface. This innovative technology has been shown to prevent ammonia volatilization and decrease losses of litter nutrients in storm runoff by more than 90%, while increasing yields of forage and no-till corn. However, no-till corn producers could use these applicators more efficiently if they could strategically plant the corn rows at some optimum distance from the subsurface bands of poultry litter, thus maximizing availability of litter nutrients to the corn crop rather than to weeds growing between the corn rows. Therefore, a greenhouse study was conducted using various corn-planting distances from subsurface litter bands to identify any resulting effects on corn seedling survival and growth. Corn was planted at distances ranging from 0-15 inches (0-38 cm) away from a subsurface band of poultry litter, and each treatment had ten replications. At the conclusion of the study, seedling data will be recorded and statistically compared, and results of the research will be presented.