Submitted to: Soil Science Society of America Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/13/2006
Publication Date: 5/16/2007
Citation: Adeli, A., Sistani, K.R., Rowe, D.E., Tewolde, H. 2007. Effects of broiler litter applied to no-till and tillage cotton on selected soil properties. Soil Science Society of America Journal. 71:974-983.
Interpretive Summary: In regions of intensive broiler production, broiler litter is often over-applied to pastures and hayfields in close proximity to poultry areas in an effort to ‘dispose” of the litter, threatening water quality and creating potential nutrient imbalance in soil fertility. To minimize these risks, producers must obtain additional land or use alternative crops to receive broiler litter. Recently cotton has been considered as an alternative in receiving broiler litter as a nutrient source relative to commercial fertilizer. It is possible that nutrient alone may not be responsible for the yield but uptake efficiency from improved soil properties may interact with nutrients to increase yield in cotton produced on broiler amended soil. Repeated annual application of broiler litter on soil properties, especially physical properties, has not been well documented. Significantly less research has focused on the changes in soil chemical, physical, and biological properties under controlled management scenarios with broiler litter applications. It is also unknown if long-term repeated annual broiler litter application to cotton under no-till and conventional tillage system at recommended rate changes soil quality parameters. It was predicted that as much as 86% of the cotton production in Mississippi area is produced under no-till or some form of reduced tillage system. Implementation of tillage systems and poultry litter application on cotton production in Mississippi, a place where both poultry litter and cotton are dominant agricultural enterprises, led to significant changes in soil properties in the plow layer. After 3 yr of broiler litter applications, soil surface (0-15 cm) total C, biomass C, total N, and soil aggregate stability were significantly greater for no-till than conventional tillage systems, indicating greater C and N sequestration from broiler litter applications with no-till practice. These changes may have significant impact on the environment and hence the sustainability of cotton production.
Technical Abstract: This study was conducted on two separate commercial farms representing no-till (Coffeeville, MS) and conventional tillage (Cruger, MS) practices to determine the effects of broiler litter application rate with supplementation of inorganic N fertilizer on soil chemical, physical, and biological properties. The experimental design was a randomized complete block with 6 treatments replicated four times. Treatments included broiler litter rates of 4.5, and 6.7 Mg ha-1 in combination with 0, 34, and 67 kg N ha-1. Fertilized ‘farmer standard’ and unfertilized checks were also included. After 3 yr of broiler litter applications, soil surface (0-15 cm) total C, biomass C, total N, and soil aggregate stability were 20%, 37%, 16% and 21% greater for no-till at Coffeeville than conventional tillage systems at Cruger, respectively, indicating greater C and N sequestration from broiler litter applications with no-till practice at Coffeeville. Also broiler litter had approximately 16% greater effects on increasing those factors than standard commercial fertilizer in Coffeeville. For both locations, soil bulk density was unaffected by broiler litter applications. After 3 yr broiler litter applications, post-harvest soil nitrate levels in 2004, do not show a significant build up of NO3 in the soil profile. However, extractable P increased by 83% and 34% at the surface (0-15) soil as compared to untreated control at Coffeeville and Cruger, respectively. These findings have implications for understanding how broiler litter application in conjunction with conservation tillage practices improve soil quality parameters such as total soil C and N, total biomass C, aggregate stability and sustainability in a cotton production.