Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/19/2004
Publication Date: 11/1/2004
Citation: Brink, G.E., Sistani, K.R., Rowe, D.E. 2004. Nutrient uptake of hybrid and common bermudagrass fertilized with broiler litter. Agronomy Journal. 96:1509-1515. Interpretive Summary: Broiler litter is a mixture of chicken manure, wasted feed, feathers, and wood shavings or other crop residue that is frequently applied to hay and pasture crops in the southeastern United States. Among these forage crops, bermudagrass has the greatest potential to recover nutrients contained in manure. Our objective was to compare the yield and nutrient uptake of several bermudagrass varieties grown by farmers in the region. Six hybrid bermudagrass varieties and common bermudagrass were fertilized with enough broiler litter to meet annual nitrogen requirements and harvested four times a year for four years. Nutrient uptake of common bermudagrass, an inexpensive, seeded type was less than nutrient uptake of new hybrids such as Russell and Tifton 85. Although hybrid bermudagrass was capable of removing most of the nitrogen applied in the broiler litter, up to 75% of the phosphorus was not absorbed, increasing its accumulation in the soil and potential loss to the environment.
Technical Abstract: Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.) has excellent potential to recover nutrients from soil fertilized with broiler litter due to the positive association between yield and nutrient uptake. Our objective was to determine N and P uptake of diverse bermudagrass cultivars fertilized with broiler litter. 'Alicia', 'Brazos', 'Coastal', 'Russell', 'Tifton 44', and 'Tifton 85' hybrid bermudagrass, and common bermudagrass were grown on a Savannah fine sandy loam (fine-loamy, siliceous, semiactive, thermic Typic Fragiudult) and fertilized with 15.75 Mg litter ha-1 yr-1 (as-is basis) to provide 540 kg total N ha-1 and 330 kg total P ha-1(mean of 4 yr). Common bermudagrass usually yielded less than the hybrids, but because it had greater herbage N and P concentration, N and P uptake were equivalent to that of Coastal and Alicia. There were few differences in annual N and P uptake among the hybrids until the final year, when Tifton 85 herbage contained 440 kg N and 73 kg P ha-1, 63 kg N and 14 kg P ha-1 more than the mean uptake of the other hybrids. Nitrogen contained in bermudagrass herbage ranged from 66 (common) to 88% (Tifton 85) of that applied in the litter in the final year of the study, while herbage contained only 17 to 24% of the P applied. Although harvest of hybrid bermudagrass hay provides an effective means of utilizing N contained in broiler litter, P applied in litter at rates exceeding 60 to 70 kg ha-1 will not be removed in herbage.