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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fayetteville, Arkansas » Poultry Production and Product Safety Research » Research » Research Project #441109

Research Project: Developing Best Management Practices for Poultry Litter to Improve Agronomic Value and Reduce Air, Soil and Water Pollution

Location: Poultry Production and Product Safety Research

Project Number: 6022-63000-006-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Sep 13, 2021
End Date: Aug 31, 2026

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 continuous grazing, rotational grazing, haying, and buffer strips on nutrient, sediment, pathogen, and antibiotic resistant genes in runoff from pastures. Sub-objective 1B. Determine the long-term effects of alum-treated and normal poultry litter on legacy P in soils, and on soil chemistry, P runoff and P leaching. Sub-objective 1C: Determine the long-term effects of applying poultry litter either by incorporation or by broadcasting in nutrient runoff. Sub-objective 1D: Identify how plant species dynamics influences nutrient losses under long-term poultry litter applications in grazable filter strip systems. Identify how plant species dynamics influences nutrient losses under long-term poultry litter applications in grazable filter strip systems. Objective 2: Measure gaseous and particulate emissions from poultry houses to develop 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: Evaluate the effects of a photocatalytic ammonia removal device on ammonia levels in poultry houses. Sub-objective 2C: Conduct pen trials with broiler chickens to determine the efficacy of existing and new litter amendments on NH3 volatilization. Sub-objective 2D: Measure forage growth, N uptake and P runoff from small plots fertilized with poultry litter from pen trials using poultry litter treated with various litter amendments. Objective 3: Quantify the environmental impacts, crop responses, and profitability of using precision technology for nutrient management to increase the sustainability of systems agriculture. Sub-objective 3A: Quantify nutrient dynamics following subsurface banding of litter for development of improved management recommendations and enhanced yield in both hay and row crop systems. Sub-objective 3B: Identify factors influencing precision agriculture technology efficiencies for improved economic viability and reduced negative environmental impacts through decision support tools. Sub-objective 3C: Develop and evaluate potential changes to the Arkansas Phosphorus Index. Sub-objective 3D: Quantify macropore flow and phosphorus leaching based on landscape attributes. Objective 4: Develop new, useful technologies to remove and recover nutrients from poultry litter to improve on-farm use and reduce loss to the environment. Sub-objective 4A: Develop strategies for improved poultry litter recycling. Sub-objective 4B: Develop a cost-effective ammonia scrubber for animal rearing facilities.

Agricultural landscape management and production practices are linked to environmental quality and ecosystem services. However, research is lacking on technologies that assist in sustainable intensification and lead to greater economic returns for end-users at the systems-level. 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 challenge, we will investigate issues preventing the sustainable use of poultry litter and develop solutions through data and technology-use. 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. In addition, short-term studies will evaluate multifunctional grazing strips, precision placement of poultry litter, and precision agriculture’s ability to reduce adverse water quality impacts during fertilization. An additional experiment will evaluate subsurface phosphorus (P) leaching from macropores in areas with highly permeable bedrocks, such as ‘karst’ topographies. The watershed studies and column experiment 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. The ultimate goals of these research projects are to develop cost-effective best management practices (BMPs) for poultry manure management that improve air and water quality, as well as overall system-level sustainability.