Submitted to: Journal of the American Water Resources Association
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/1/2005
Publication Date: 4/1/2005
Citation: Haggard, B.E., Delaune, P.B., Smith, D.R., Moore Jr., P.A. 2005. Nutrient and B17-estradiol loss in runoff water from various poultry litters. Journal of the American Water Resources Association. Paper No. 03178. p. 245-256.
Interpretive Summary: Poultry operations are generally concentrated near critical infrastructure, particularly in northwest Arkansas and northeast Oklahoma. Poultry litter (manure plus bedding) is often land applied as fertilizer to pastures; the density of poultry operations results in an excess of poultry litter in many watersheds. The proposed solution is exporting excess litter from sensitive watersheds to areas low in soil phosphorus availability, e.g., eastern Arkansas and western Oklahoma. We evaluated nutrient and estradiol concentrations in runoff water from small plots receiving various poultry litters. Six poultry litters were evaluated including raw poultry litters and alum-treated poultry litter, and also pelleted forms of these poultry litters. Poultry litters were applied at about 67 kg P/ha to the small plots. Four replicates of the six poultry litters and a control were used; the total number of plots was 28. Rainfall simulations were conducted immediately following poultry litter application at a precipitation rate of 5-cm/hr, lasting until 30 minutes of continuous runoff was observed from each plot. Composite runoff water samples were analyzed for N, P and estradiol concentrations using appropriate methods. Estradiol concentrations were greater from plots receiving the various poultry litters compared to unfertilized plots. Pelleted [raw] poultry litters had greater N and P concentrations in the runoff water compared to raw poultry litter. Similarly, pelleted alum-treated litter had greater P concentrations in runoff water than just alum-treated poultry litter whereas N concentrations were generally similar. Alum-treated poultry litter had the least P concentrations in runoff water compared to other poultry litters. These results suggest: (1) that alum additions to poultry houses is an effective best management practice at reducing P concentrations in runoff water from lands receiving poultry litter and (2) that pelleting poultry litters may increase the potential for P loss in runoff water.
Technical Abstract: We examined nutrient and estradiol concentrations in runoff waters from small plots receiving various poultry litters at equivalent rates of total phosphorus (TP) application, ~67 kg/ha. The six poultry litter treatments included pelleted compost, pelleted litter, raw litter, alum (treated) litter, pelleted alum litter, and control litter (no alum). Four replicates of the six poultry litter treatments and a control (plots without poultry litter application) were used; the total number of small plots was 28. Rainfall simulations at intensity of 5 cm/hr were conducted immediately following poultry litter application to the plots and also approximately 30 d after application. Composite runoff samples were analyzed for soluble reactive P (SRP), ammonium, nitrate, TP, total nitrogen (TN) and estradiol concentrations. In general, poultry litter treatments increased nutrient and estradiol concentrations in runoff waters greater than that observed from untreated plots. Ammonium and P concentrations in runoff water were strongly correlated to amount of soluble ammonium and P applied in the various poultry litters. Our results suggested that alum addition in between flocks is an effective best management practice at reducing P and estradiol concentrations in runoff waters and that pelleted poultry litters may increase the potential for P and estradiol loss in runoff water. However, inferences regarding pelleted poultry litters should be viewed cautiously because these poultry litters may have been from birds under different management and diets, etc., but the environmental consequence of pelleting poultry litters needs additional investigation.