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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Codling, Eton
item Chaney, Rufus
item Sherwell, John

Submitted to: BARC Poster Day
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/1/2003
Publication Date: 5/1/2003
Citation: Codling, E.E., Chaney, R.L., Sherwell, J. 2003. Poultry litter ash as a potential fertilizer source for agricultural crops. BARC Poster Day.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Maryland will impose restrictions on poultry litter application to soils with excessive soil test P by the year 2005, requiring new approaches for use or disposal of litter. One alternative under consideration is burning poultry litter to generate electricity and produce a smaller amount of dry ash, which could be transported further for economic use. The ash contains high levels of total P and K, and should be a useful fertilizer, but the availability of these nutrients for crops is unknown. This study 1) compared the effectiveness of poultry litter ash (PLA) to that of KH2PO4 as a potential P source and 2) investigated the interaction of PLA with calcium carbonate (lime) for growth of wheat on strongly acidic soils which limit P phytoavailability. Two very acidic (pH 4.25 and 4.48), low P soils were obtained; half of each soil was limed to pH 6.5. PLA or KH2PO4 were mixed with each limed and unlimed soil series at 0, 39 and 78 kg P ha-1 and planted with Renville wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Lime increased wheat yield, but there were no significant differences between the two P sources. Tissue P concentrations were higher in plants treated with PLA than KH2PO4. Tissue Cu, Zn, Mn, Fe , Ni and Cd concentrations from the PLA treatments were no higher than those from KH2PO4 and control treatments. Soil pH, water-soluble-P and Mehlich-3 extractable-P concentrations were higher in the PLA amended soil than in the control and KH2PO4 treatments at the end of the experiment. We conclude that PLA can be used as a P fertilizer for wheat both in limed and un-limed soils. The low levels of WSP and metals in the soils and the low metals concentrations in the wheat shoots further demonstrated that PLA should pose no threat to the environment when used as a fertilizer.

Last Modified: 10/20/2017
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