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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Safe Management and Use of Manure, Biosolids, and Industrial Byproducts

Location: Genetics and Precision Agriculture Research

Title: Cotton production improvement and environmental concerns from poultry litter application in southern and southeastern USA soils

Authors
item Tewolde, Haile
item Sistani, Karamat

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: February 20, 2014
Publication Date: June 1, 2014
Citation: Tewolde, H., Sistani, K.R. 2014. Cotton production improvement and environmental concerns from poultry litter application in southern and southeastern USA soils. In: He, Z., Zhang, H., editors. Applied Manure and Nutrient Chemistry for Sustainable Agriculture and Environment. New York, NY: Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. p. 355-370.

Interpretive Summary: Much of the poultry litter generated in the US is concentrated in six southern and southeastern states which also produce the majority of the nation’s cotton. The enormous amount of litter generated in the region can pose environmental risk if managed improperly. Research has been conducted in the region, more intensively in the last 10 to 20 years, to develop ways of integrating poultry litter as a row crop fertilizer and alleviate environmental burden on pasture and hay fields around the chicken houses which have been the traditional litter application sites. This chapter reviews results of recent research on the effectiveness of poultry litter as cotton fertilizer and environmental concerns associated with its land application. The results published in refereed journals have shown that poultry litter is an excellent cotton fertilizer. It supplies all mineral nutrients essential for plant growth, reduces soil acidity, improves soil organic matter, and may suppress harmful plant parasitic nematodes. In many soils in the region, it is has been shown to increase lint yield above that possible with synthetic inorganic fertilizers. Land-applying litter as cotton fertilizer should be of economic benefit to cotton and other row crop farmers and to poultry producers if its use can be effectively and fully integrated into the cropping systems of the region. The potential of the elements phosphorus, copper, and zinc to accumulate in the soil, however, is a concern if litter is used on a long-term basis.

Technical Abstract: Much of the poultry litter generated in the US is concentrated in six southern and southeastern states which also produce the majority of the nation’s cotton. The enormous amount of litter generated in the region can be an environmental burden if not managed properly. Research has been conducted in the region, more intensively in the last 10 to 20 years, to encourage the integration of poultry litter as a row crop fertilizer away from the traditional application points which are typically pastures around the chicken houses. This chapter reviews results of the research on the effectiveness of poultry litter as cotton fertilizer and environmental concerns associated with its land application. The results which have been published in at least 55 refereed articles have shown that poultry litter is an excellent cotton fertilizer. It supplies all essential plant nutrients, maintains or increases the pH of acidic soils, builds soil organic matter, and may control or suppress harmful plant parasitic nematodes. Fertilizing cotton with poultry litter has been shown to increase lint yield above that possible with synthetic inorganic fertilizers in many soils in the region. Land-applying litter as cotton fertilizer should benefit not only cotton and other row crop farmers to increase farm profits but also the poultry producers to generate new income if its use can be effectively and fully integrated into the cropping systems of the region. The potential of litter-derived P, Cu, and Zn to accumulate in the soil, however, is a concern that future research should address.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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