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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 Sustainable Agriculture Research

2011 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
Develop improved manure (swine lagoon effluent and poultry litter) application and management practices that reduce nutrient losses to the environment, increases utilization by crop plants, increase recycling of nutrients, and enhance soil quality. Determine and reduce bacterial pathogen levels in manured fields and assess impacts on soil fungal and bacterial ecology, including antibiotic resistance. Determine ammonia and greenhouse gas emissions from broiler houses and manured fields and develop management practices to reduce them. Evaluate the benefits and potential risks from possible new uses of manure and industrial byproducts (e.g. FGD gypsum).

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Multidisciplinary approach will be utilized in converting “wastes” into valuable inputs for energy, forage, fiber, and grain crops. Presence, prevalence, and fate of nutrients, gaseous emissions, bacterial approaches, antibiotic resistance, and soil fungi associated with swine and poultry manure, municipal biosolids, and waste-impacted soils, plants, air, and water will be addressed. New uses of manure will be investigated, including swine manure for bioenergy crops, poultry litter for plant disease biocontrol, and litter with gypsum for remediation of degraded soil. Experiments employ a combination of traditional methods and state-of-the-art techniques and equipment. Work will be done in cooperator rearing houses and manure storage areas on confined animal feeding operations and in crop fields of manure end users. Contamination of soil, water, air, and plants from land application of manure and biosolids will be assessed and off-site transport of nutrients, pathogens, and antibiotic resistance will be determined. Information will be developed into best management practices to protect the environment and human and animal health by maximizing crop nutrient utilization, minimizing bacterial contamination and antibiotic resistance, reducing ammonia and greenhouse gas emissions, and exploiting biocontrol potential.

3. Progress Report
Renovation of coal strip-mined soils: A chronological sequence of research on soil quality is evaluating poultry litter and industrial by-products on soil productivity and biomass. A litter nutrient runoff test was completed. Broiler litter and industrial by-products are being evaluated for corn, soybean, and cotton production. Effects of residual fertilizer value from litter applied to cotton on subsequent crops of soybean are being tested. In-house poultry litter composting was done and molecular tests of bacterial clone libraries and 16 ribosomal subunits (16S) counts begun. Field and cultural tests were done in a swine mortality compost study. A litter bacteria runoff test was done and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and endotoxin tests begun. Survival of pathogens in manure and biosolids was tested and 16S clone libraries and quantitative PCR begun. Manure and biosolids treatments were set up to test pathogen survival in the field, and soil was tested for fecal indicators, pathogens, and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Bacterial pathogen decay time was tested on inoculated plants in growth chambers. A broiler house study of seeding new litter with old looks at Salmonella. Bacterial and nutrient levels were tested in a newly decommissioned swine manure lagoon. Germination and winter survival of Mercheron, a varaiety of napiergrass, were less than 50% when seeded in October. Concentration of nutrients and ash in napiergrass fertilized with swine-lagoon effluent will be determined periodically during the summer of 2011. Growth of napiergrass under simulated-summer temperatures tended to increase the biomass and concentration of fermentable sugars in leaves. Bermudagrass Potassium (K) nutrition is related to a naturally occurring disease epidemic. Intensive, year-round harvesting of forage grasses is useful for amelioration of high soil Phosphorus (P), but will probably require close attention to Nitrogen (N) and K nutrition. Research of a naturally-occurring disease epidemic identified 6 species of "Helminthosporium-type" fungi in bermudagrass, and disease severity was related to plant and soil K concentration. Evaluation of the effects of K fertilization and thatch removal by field burning on disease occurrence and severity has begun. We completed the 3rd year of a 3-factor study showing the advantages of a cover crop when poultry litter is applied to cotton by subsurface banding in the fall. Soil samples were collected in the first year of a sustainable land application study. Incubation of raw poultry litter with selected byproducts for 45 days altered soil pH.

4. Accomplishments

Review Publications
McLaughlin, M.R., Brooks, J.P., Adeli, A., Read, J.J. 2010. Comparison of selected nutrients and bacteria from common contiguous soils inside and outside swine lagoon effluent spray fields after long-term use. Journal of Environmental Quality. 39:1829-1840.

Miles, D.M., Brooks, J.P., Sistani, K.R. 2011. Spatial contrasts of seasonal and intraflock broiler litter trace gas emissions, physical and chemical properties. Journal of Environmental Quality. 40:176-187.

Tewolde, H., Adeli, A., Sistani, K.R., Rowe, D.E. 2010. Potassium and magnesium nutrition of cotton fertilized with broiler litter. Journal of Cotton Science. 14:1-12.

Read, J.J., Aiken, G.E., Lang, D.E. 2010. Herbage nutritive value of tall fescue fertilized with broiler litter and inorganic fertilizer. Forage and Grazinglands. Available:

Adeli, A., Tewolde, H., Jenkins, J.N., Rowe, D.E. 2011. Cover crop use for managing broiler litter applied to cotton in the fall. Agronomy Journal. 103:200-210.

Tewolde, H., Adeli, A., Rowe, D.E., Sistani, K.R. 2011. Cotton lint yield improvement attributed to residual effect of repeated poultry litter application. Agronomy Journal. 103:107-112.

Adeli, A., Shankle, M.W., Tewolde, H., Brooks, J.P., Sistani, K.R., McLaughlin, M.R., Rowe, D.E. 2011. Effect of surface incorporation of broiler litter applied to no-till cotton on runoff quality. Journal of Environmental Quality. 40:566-574.

Zerzghi, H., Brooks, J.P., Gerba, C.P., Pepper, I.L. 2010. Influence of long-term land application of class B biosolids on soil bacterial diversity. Journal of Applied Microbiology. 109:698-706.

Brooks, J.P., McLaughlin, M.R., Scheffler, B.E., Miles, D.M. 2010. Microbial and antibiotic resistant constituents associated with biological aerosols and poultry litter within a commercial poultry house. Science of the Total Environment. 408:4770-4777.

Zerzghi, H., Gerba, C.P., Brooks, J.P., Pepper, I.L. 2010. Long-term effects of land application of Class B biosolids on the soil microbial populations, pathogens, and activity. Journal of Environmental Quality. 39:402-408.

Pepper, I.L., Brooks, J.P., Sinclair, R.G., Gurian, P.L., Gerba, C.P. 2010. Pathogens and indicators in United States Class B biosolids: national and historic distributions. Journal of Environmental Quality. 39:2185-2190.

Miles, D.M., Rowe, D.E., Cathcart, T.C. 2011. Litter ammonia generation: moisture content and organic versus inorganic bedding materials. Poultry Science. 90:1162-1169.

Miles, D.M., Rowe, D.E., Cathcart, T.C. 2011. High litter moisture content suppresses litter ammonia volatilization. Poultry Science. 90:1397-1405.

McLaughlin, M.R., Brooks, J.P., Adeli, A., Tewolde, H. 2011. Nutrients and bacteria in common contiguous Mississippi soils with and without broiler litter fertilization. Journal of Environmental Quality. 40:1322-1331.

Last Modified: 10/16/2017
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