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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: Subsurface band application of poultry litter

Authors
item WAY, THOMAS
item WATTS, DEXTER
item TEWOLDE, HAILE
item SISTANI, KARAMAT
item TORBERT, HENRY

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: October 26, 2010
Publication Date: October 26, 2010
Citation: Way, T.R., Watts, D.B., Tewolde, H., Sistani, K.R., Torbert III, H.A. 2010. Subsurface band application of poultry litter. In: Proceedings of the National Poultry and Animal Waste Management Symposium, October 26-28, 2010, Greensboro, North Carolina. CDROM.

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 has been 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 has been developed at the USDA-ARS National Soil Dynamics Lab (Auburn, AL). The implement is a four-trench (four-row) implement and its band spacing is adjustable from 10 to 40 in. in 1 in. increments. The implement is capable of applying poultry litter as a side-dress to row crops, and the implement is capable of applying litter to pastures. Typical band spacings of 10 to 15 in. have been used for pastures. When broiler litter was applied in subsurface bands in tall fescue on a sandy loam using the implement, and simulated rainfall was applied, concentrations of total P, inorganic N, and E. coli in the runoff water were significantly greater for broadcast-applied litter plots than for the subsurface banded litter plots. In a cotton experiment, the lint yield increased from 878 lb/acre when litter was applied by surface broadcast to 938 lb/acre when litter was applied as a side-dress at planting or one month later.

Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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