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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Efficient Management and Use of Animal Manure to Protect Human Health and Environmental Quality

Location: Food Animal Environmental Systems Research Unit

Title: Poultry litter time and method of application effects on corn yield

Authors
item Jn-Baptiste, Marcia -
item Sistani, Karamat
item Tewolde, Haile

Submitted to: Soil Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 6, 2013
Publication Date: March 11, 2013
Citation: Jn-Baptiste, M., Sistani, K.R., Tewolde, H. 2013. Poultry litter time and method of application effects on corn yield. Soil Science. 178(3):109-119.

Interpretive Summary: The past decade has seen rapid expansion in the broiler industry in the Southeastern region of the United. Consequently, a significant amount of poultry litter (PL) (a mixture of chicken manure and bedding materials) is produced annually; an average of about 1.3 tons litter per 1000 birds. The growing interest in the use of PL as nutrient sources among farmers is due to its availability from the expanding poultry industry, the need for sustainable crop production systems, and the potential competitive cost of the litter compared with chemical fertilizers. However, before PL can be adopted as a fertilizer source in any cropping system, it is imperative that some research into the effects of PL interactions with the soils, and the crops grown be investigated, not forgetting the potential environmental impacts. This 3-year study investigated effects of application time (fall versus spring), and method of application (soil-incorporation and non-incorporation) of three PL rates and a rate of ammonium nitrate (146 kg N/ha) on nutrient availability and corn grain yield, in northern Alabama. The plant available nitrogen (N) rates supplied by the poultry litter were 68 kg N/ha (low), 135 kg N/ha (medium) and 270 kg N/ha (high). Results indicated that averaged across the 3 years, grain yield from the high PL rate was similar to the medium PL rate when spring-applied. Only medium PL rate resulted in 800 kg/ha greater grain yield than ammonium nitrate from both spring and fall applications. Incorporation of the medium PL rate increased grain yield 590 kg/ha and ammonium nitrate by 480 kg/ha, respectively than non-incorporation. When PL was incorporated, the medium rate resulted in greater nitrogen and phosphorus uptake. Results from this study suggest, fall application beyond the medium rate should not be encouraged for warm climatic conditions.

Technical Abstract: Adopting efficient management practices for utilizing poultry litter (PL) as an alternative to commercial fertilizer is critical for increased N use efficiency. This 3-year study investigated effects of application time (fall and spring), and method of application (soil-incorporation and non-incorporation) of three PL rates and NH4NO3 (146 kg N/ha) on availability of selected soil nutrients and corn (Zea mays L.) grain yield, in northern Alabama. The plant available N rates supplied by the poultry litter were 68 kg N/ha (low), 135 kg N/ha (medium) and 270 kg N/ha (high). Soil inorganic N, mehlich-3 P (M-3P) and available K were measured before planting in April, mid-season in June or July, and post-harvest in October or November. Averaged across the 3 years, grain yield from the high PL rate was similar to the medium PL rate when spring-applied. The medium PL rate resulted in 800 kg/ha greater grain yield than NH4NO3 from both spring and fall applications. Incorporation of the medium PL rate increased grain yield 590 kg/ha and NH4NO3 by 480 kg/ha, respectively, than non-incorporation but no yield advantage of incorporating the low and high PL rates. Inorganic N, M-3P and available K were highest from mid-season sampling, and from spring than fall applications. When N sources were incorporated, the medium PL rate resulted in greater N and P uptake. Results from this study suggest, fall application of NH4NO3 and PL beyond the medium rate should not be encouraged for warm climatic conditions.

Last Modified: 7/30/2014
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