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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Auburn, Alabama » Soil Dynamics Research » Research » Research Project #416797


Location: Soil Dynamics Research

2012 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
We propose to evaluate FGD gypsum influences soil physical properties and losses of P from poultry litter on pastures. The research would help establish proper combinations of rates of FGD gypsum and poultry litter to reduce losses of P in runoff and improve soil productivity and provide documentation of water quality improvements associated with FGD gypsum needed to help qualify practices for use as a BMP and water quality improvement credits.

1b. Approach (from AD-416):
Auburn – FGD gypsum and poultry litter will be applied at four rates (0, 2, 4, 6 Mg ha-1) to bermudagrass pasture to evaluate changes in available soil P over three years. FGD gypsum and poultry litter would be applied annually and measurements of soil P fractions (Total P, water soluble P, Mehlich P, and organic P) would be made at 6 month intervals. In addition we would evaluate FGD gypsum and poultry litter effects on forage production and quality along with the potential for nutrient removal by grazing and haying which is important for management of high P soils. Forage would be harvested at regular intervals to simulate haying and evaluated for P content (P removal) and forage quality. Results would establish potential for using FGD gypsum as an amendment to increase poultry litter application rates and improve water use efficiency on pasture and hay land.

3. Progress Report:
This research project was initiated to evaluate the use of flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) gypsum as soil amendment to reduce losses of phosphorus (P) from poultry litter in forage based production systems. Influences of FGD gypsum on soil physical properties affecting water infiltration, water conservation, and forage production are being investigated. The project uses rainfall simulation studies to quantify the impacts that FGD gypsum has on soil and forage quality. This study is evaluating proper rate combination of FGD gypsum and poultry litter needed to maintain forage yields while reducing P losses in surface water runoff. Forage cuttings were collected 3 times throughout the growing season in 2011. Treatment effects on forage production and nutritive value are in the process of being determined for each cutting, along with nutrient removal in the hay. Soils are being analyzed to determine; changes in soil P fractions (total P, water soluble P, Mehlich P, and organic P); changes in heavy metal content (such as mercury); and changes in soil quality (soil Carbon (C), Nitrogen (N)). The third rain simulation was conducted at the end of the growing season in 2011 to evaluate fate and transport of P, heavy metals, and arsenic. The ADODR has monitored activities via email and telephone correspondence, collaborator meetings, and site visits.

4. Accomplishments