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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: Effects of broiler litter application on nutrient accumulation in soil

Authors
item Gilfillen, Becky -
item Rowland, Naomi -
item Willian, Todd -
item Sleugh, Byron -
item Tekeste, Mehari -
item Sistani, Karamat

Submitted to: Forage and Grazinglands
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 20, 2010
Publication Date: November 5, 2010
Citation: Gilfillen, B., Rowland, N., Willian, T., Sleugh, B.B., Tekeste, M.Z., Sistani, K.R. 2010. Effects of broiler litter application on nutrient accumulation in soil. Forage and Grazinglands. On Line Only-http://www.plantmanagementnetwork.org/pub/fg/research/2010/litter/. doi:10.1094/FG-2010-1105-01-RS.

Interpretive Summary: Broiler chicken production is the second most valuable agricultural industry in Kentucky and its production has shown a rapid increase, particularly in the western part of the state, increasing five-fold from 1994 to 2004. Broiler litter, a mixture of chicken manure and bedding materials is an excellent source of nutrients for crop growth and its application can improve soil physical properties. Land application of broiler litter to agricultural fields near broiler production facilities is an economically feasible waste management practice due to low, short-distance transportation and handling costs. However, application of broiler litter in excess of crop nutrient needs and crop removal will cause accumulation in soils and loss of nutrients to the environment. Broiler litter applied to meet crop N requirements can result in P accumulations six to eight fold greater than crop needs. With rapidly increasing land application of broiler litter and potential environmental concerns, studies on environmental issues associated with broiler litter application are warranted. The objectives of the study were: (1) to determine the long-term effects of broiler litter application on accumulation of soil nutrients (P, Cu, Zn, and others); (2) to optimize application of broiler litter to limit excess P accumulation while achieving optimum orchardgrass yield. According to our findings, applying broiler litter at the recommended phosphorus rate and supplementing with inorganic nitrogen may be an environmentally sustainable broiler litter management practice.

Technical Abstract: Excessive nutrient accumulation in soils due to land application of broiler litter is a growing environmental concern. A four-year study was conducted on a Pembroke silt loam soil (Mollic Paleudalf) cropped to orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) to evaluate accumulation of soil nutrients from broiler litter application. A randomized complete block design with four fertilization treatments was used. Broiler chicken (Gallus gallus) litter was applied at recommended nitrogen rate (L-N), recommended phosphorus rate (L-P), recommended phosphorus rate supplemented with inorganic nitrogen (L-P+N) and inorganic fertilizer with no litter application (Inorg). The L-P, L-P+N, and Inorg treatments did not cause an increase in soil nutrient accumulation while L-N increased soil phosphorus, copper, and zinc by five-fold compared to values at initiation of this experiment. Maximum and minimum orchardgrass yields were observed with L-N (18,019 kg/ha DM) and L-P treatments (7189 kg/ha DM). According to our findings, applying broiler litter at the recommended phosphorus rate and supplementing with inorganic nitrogen may be an environmentally sustainable broiler litter management practice

Last Modified: 8/22/2014
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