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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fayetteville, Arkansas » Poultry Production and Product Safety Research » Research » Research Project #431658

Research Project: Quantifying Air and Water Quality Benefits of Improved Poultry Manure Management Practices

Location: Poultry Production and Product Safety Research

2021 Annual Report

The goal of this project is to reduce the negative environmental impacts of poultry litter on air, soil and water resources, while improving the agronomic value of this resource. We will measure runoff losses from pastures and aerial emissions from poultry facilities and develop/test Best Management Practices (BMPs) to reduce these losses. We will also measure the potential sources of acidification of the Mulberry River. The objectives of this research are: Objective 1. Quantify and track losses of nutrients, metals, soil and pathogens from pastures fertilized with poultry manure and develop and test management practices that reduce water quality impacts. Sub-objective 1A. Determine the long-term effects of overgrazing, rotational grazing, haying, and buffer strips on nutrient and sediment runoff from pastures. Sub-objective 1B. Determine the long-term effects of alum-treated and normal poultry litter applications on legacy P in soils, and on soil chemistry, P runoff and P leaching. Sub-objective 1C: Compare nutrient and pathogen runoff from small watersheds fertilized with poultry litter that is applied using litter incorporation or by broadcasting. Sub-objective 1D. Utilize P runoff from 24 small watersheds to validate the Arkansas P index. Objective 2. Measure gaseous and particulate emissions from poultry houses and develop and test management practices to reduce air pollution and nutrient losses. Sub-objective 2A. Measure NH3, dust and greenhouse gas concentrations and emissions from poultry houses. Sub-objective 2B. Determine the efficacy of an NH3 scrubber on reducing the emissions of dust and NH3 from poultry houses. Sub-objective 2C. Measure forage growth, N uptake and P runoff from small plots fertilized with N-rich scrubber solutions and commercial N fertilizer. Sub-objective 2D. Develop/test a cost-effective litter amendment that reduces NH3 emissions and P runoff. Objective 3. Quantify amounts of acid generated from different sources in the Mulberry River Watershed. Sub-objective 3A. Measure atmospheric NH3 and wet deposition of acid in the Mulberry River watershed. Sub-objective 3B. Compare various measures of soil acidification under hardwood and pine forests at multiple paired locations within the Mulberry River Watershed. Sub-objective 3C. Evaluate the relationship between water chemistry and the percentage of forest in pines within several sub-watersheds of the Mulberry River.

The objective of this research is to reduce the negative environmental impacts of poultry litter on air, soil and/or water resources, while improving the agronomic value of this resource. To meet this goal we propose to conduct research which investigates the nature of problems associated with poultry litter, determines the extent of these problems, and provides solutions to them. Both long-term and short-term studies will be conducted. One of the long-term (20 year) studies initiated in 2003 utilizes 15 small watersheds to determine the impacts of pasture management strategies (over grazing, rotational grazing, buffer strips, riparian buffer strips and haying) on pasture hydrology, erosion and nutrient and pathogen runoff. Another watershed study will evaluate the effect of two litter application methods on nutrient runoff. Two other long-term studies (paired watershed and small plot study) initiated in 1995 will evaluate the legacy effects of fertilizing with normal poultry litter or litter treated with alum on phosphorus (P) runoff and leaching. The watershed studies described above will also be utilized to validate the Arkansas P Index. Experiments will be conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of ammonia (NH3) scrubbers on reducing NH3 and dust emissions from poultry houses. Research will be conducted in the Mulberry River Watershed to determine if river acidification is occurring because of atmospheric NH3 deposition or other causes, such as acid rain or forestry practices. The ultimate goal of this research is to develop cost-effective best management practices (BMPs) for poultry manure management which improve air and water quality.

Progress Report
This project ended 9/21/21 and will be replaced by a new project, "Developing Best Management Practices for Poultry Litter to Improve Agronomic Value and Reduce Air, Soil and Water Pollution" pending completion of research review. Progress was made on all objectives and subobjectives, all of which fall under National Program 212. Under Subobjective 2A we made progress measuring ammonia (NH3) and greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations and emissions from poultry houses. Concentrations and emissions of NH3, nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) were measured from 19 flocks of broiler chickens that were grown to various ages (4, 7 or 8 weeks of age). The emissions of all four gases per kg of bird produced was dramatically higher for older birds. Ammonia, N2O, CH4 and CO2 emissions per kg bird increased by 293, 387, 225, and 351% for 8-week-old birds compared to 4-week-old birds. Higher emissions from older birds were likely due to less efficient feed conversion as birds age. These results indicate that growing smaller chickens would be more environmentally sustainable, since it results in much lower emissions of NH3 and GHGs per kg of bird produced, while also utilizing much less feed. We also submitted an invention disclosure for an ammonia/dust scrubber that purifies the air inside chicken houses, rather than the air exhausted from houses. A patent application was also made on using calcium-based nanoparticles to reduce phosphorus runoff in conjunction with the use of litter amendments for ammonia control.


Review Publications
Ashworth, A.J., Moore Jr, P.A., Pote, D.H., Owens, P.R., Martin, J.W., Anderson, K. 2021. Conservation management practices reduce non-point source pollution from grazed pastures. Heliyon. 7(2). Article e06238.
Yang, Y., Ashworth, A.J., Debruyn, J., Durso, L.M., Savin, M., Cook, K.L., Moore Jr., P.A., Owens, P.R. 2020. Antimicrobial resistant gene prevalence in soils due to animal manure deposition and long-term pasture management. PeerJ. 8:e10258.
Anderson, K.R., Moore Jr., P.A., Martin, J.W., Ashworth, A.J. 2021. Evaluation of a novel poultry litter amendment on greenhouse gas emissions. Atmosphere. 12(5). Article 563.
Amorim, H., Ashworth, A.J., Brye, K.R., Wienhold, B.J., Savin, M.C., Owens, P.R., Silva, S. 2021. Soil quality indices as affected by long-term burning, irrigation, tillage, and fertility management. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 85:379-395.
Gurmessa, B., Ashworth, A.J., Yang, Y., Adhikari, K., Savin, M., Owens, P.R., Sauer, T.J., Pedretti, E.F., Cocco, S., Corti, G. 2021. Soil bacterial diversity based on management and topography in a silvopastoral system. Applied Soil Ecology. 163:103918.
Zhou, X., Larson, J., Sykes, V., Ashworth, A.J., Allen, F.L. 2021. Crop rotation, cover crop, and poultry litter effects on no-tillage cotton profitability. Agronomy Journal. 113:2648–2663.
Niyigena, V., Ashworth, A.J., Nieman, C.C., Acharya, M., Coffey, K.P., Phillipp, D., Meadors, L., Sauer, T.J. 2021. Factors affecting sugar accumulation and fluxes in warm- and cool-season forages grown in a silvopastoral system. Agronomy.
Yang, Y., Ashworth, A.J., Durso, L.M., Savin, M., Debruyan, J., Cook, K.L., Moore Jr., P.A., Owens, P.R. 2021. Do long-term conservation pasture management practices influence microbial diversity and antimicrobial resistant genes in runoff. Frontiers in Microbiology. 12. Article 617066.
Acharya, M., Yang, Y., Ashworth, A.J., Burke, J.M., Lee, J., Sharma Acharya, R. 2021. Soil microbial diversity in organic and non-organic pasture systems. PeerJ. 9. Article e11184.
Gurmessa, B., Ashworth, A.J., Yang, Y., Savin, M., Moore Jr, P.A., Ricke, S.C., Corti, G., Foppa Pedretti, E., Cocco, S. 2021. Variations in bacterial community structure and antimicrobial resistance genes abundance in cattle manure and poultry litter. Environmental Research.
Popp, M., West, C., Ashworth, A.J. 2021. Simulating the feasibility of dual use switchgrass on cow-calf operations. Energies. 14(9):2422.
Gelley, C.H., Ashworth, A.J., Keyser, P.D., Nave, R., Rhinehart, J. 2020. Water-Use efficiency of forage crops in the Southeastern United States. Agronomy. 10(9):1377.
Kharel, T.P., Ashworth, A.J., Buser, M.D., Owens, P.R. 2020. Spatially and temporally disparate data in systems agriculture: Issues and prospective solutions. Agronomy Journal. 112:4498-4510.
Ashworth, A.J., Knapp, V., Fred, A., Saxton, A. 2020. Comparison of discriminatory effects of corn yield test locations based on their genetic variation expression among hybrids. Crop Science. 60:3166–3174.
Xu, S., Jagadamma, S., Ashworth, A.J., Singh, S., Owens, P.R., Moore Jr, P.A. 2020. Long-term effects of pasture management and fenced riparian buffers on soil organic carbon content and aggregation. Geoderma. 382. Article 114666.
Kharel, T.P., Owens, P.R., Ashworth, A.J. 2020. Tractor path overlap is influenced by field shape and terrain attributes. Agricultural & Environmental Letters. 5:e20027.
Adams, T.C., Ashworth, A.J., Sauer, T.J. 2021. Soil CO2 evolution is driven by forage species, soil moisture, grazing pressure, poultry litter fertilization, and seasonality in silvopastures. Agrosystems, Geosciences & Environment. 4(2). Article e20179.
Richwine, J., Keyser, P., Hancock, D., Ashworth, A.J. 2021. Using a browntop millet companion crop to aid native grass establishment. Agronomy Journal. 113:3210-3221.
Ashworth, A.J., Adams, T., Kharel, T.P., Philipp, D., Owens, P.R., Sauer, T.J. 2021. Root decomposition in silvopastures is influenced by grazing, fertility, and grass species. Agrosystems, Geosciences & Environment. 4(3). Article e20190.