Submitted to: Soil and Water Conservation Society Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/22/2001
Publication Date: 12/1/2001
Citation: POTE, D.H., KINGERY, W.L., AIKEN, G.E., HAN, F.X., MOORE JR, P.A. 2001. PROTECTING WATER QUALITY BY INCORPORATING POULTRY LITTER INTO PERENNIAL PASTURES. SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION SOCIETY PROCEEDINGS. 56(4):386-387.
Technical Abstract: Broiler litter is rich in plant nutrients and greatly increases forage production on marginal agricultural land, but the usual practice of surface spreading litter on pastures has raised serious water-quality concerns. Nutrients and metals are transported from fields in surface runoff, while much of the ammonia-N volatilizes. Fertilizer incorporation into soil can reduce such problems in tilled systems, but has not previously been used for perennial forage systems. In this study, we minimized disturbance of soil structure, forage crop, and thatch by using a knifing technique to move broiler litter into the root zone of established perennial grassland. Our objectives were to determine effects of broiler litter incorporation on (1) water, soil, nutrient, and metal losses in runoff, and (2) forage yield and quality. Field plots were constructed on a silt loam soil with 8-10 percent slopes and well-established bermuda (Cynodon dactylon) and mixed grass forage crop. Each plot had aluminum borders to isolate runoff and a downslope trough with sampling pit for runoff collection. Broiler litter was applied (5.6 Mg/ha) using one of three methods (surface-applied, incorporated, or surface-applied on soil-aeration cuts). There were six replications on each treatment plus three control plots. Runoff samples from natural and simulated rainstorms showed that litter incorporation significantly decreased nutrient and metal losses in runoff, while water and soil losses were not affected. Litter incorporation tended to increase both yield and quality (percent protein and digestible dry matter) of the forage crop.