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Title: Effects of broiler litter on soybean production and soil nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations

item Sistani, Karamat
item Rowe, Dennis
item El Balaa, Mohamad
item Tewolde, Haile

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/2/2005
Publication Date: 7/1/2005
Citation: Adeli, A., Sistani, K.R., Rowe, D.E., Tewolde, H. 2005. Effects of broiler litter on soybean production and soil nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations. Agronomy Journal. 97:314-321.

Interpretive Summary: The poultry litter (a mix of pine chips used for bedding and poultry feces) from poultry houses has seen little use as a fertilizer for soybean. The common perception has been that the common granulated fertilizer mix of phosphorus and potassium is much superior to the poultry litter. The poultry litter is low in nitrogen and relatively high in phosphorus and potassium and contains many other nutrients. This research shows that fertilization with poultry litter increases bean yield and root nodule development. The mix of major and minor nutrients in the poultry litter promoted root nodule development more than fertilization with the commercial fertilizer with phosphorus and potassium. The nodule development is important for sustainable agriculture because these nodules are able to change nitrogen in the air to a plant nutrient. Results showed fertilization at increasing rates with commercial fertilizers reduced the nodule size. Poultry litter appears to be an excellent fertilizer for sustained soybean production.

Technical Abstract: Application of broiler litter on soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] production has been discouraged. The objective of this experiment was to evaluate the effects of broiler litter relative to commercial P and K fertilizer applications on soybean yield, N utilization and residual soil N. The effects of three broiler litter rates (2,4, and 8 Mg ha-1) and three equivalent P and K fertilizer rates were investigated on a Leeper Clay Loam (fine, smectitic, nonacid, thermic Vertic Epiaquepts), at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Experiment Stations in Starkville, MS. Soybean grain yield and N uptake responded quadratically to increasing broiler litter application rates in 2001 and 2002. Because of lower nutrient content of broiler litter and less rainfall in 2001, soybean yield and N uptake were lower in 2001 than 2002. Soybean responded better to broiler litter application than P and K fertilizer. In both years, recovery efficiency for broiler litter N declined with increasing litter rates and the recovered N was greater in 2002 than 2001. The total nodule weight linearly decreased with increasing broiler litter rates. However, an inverse relationship was observed for P and K fertilizer applications. Application of broiler litter at rates > 4 Mg hg-1 did not effectively increase yields. In both years, the most residual soil NO3-N was related to high broiler liter rate (8 Mg hg-1) and accumulated in the top 15 cm of the soil profile. The results of this study indicate that broiler litter application is not harmful to soybean production and appears beneficial.