Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/25/2007
Publication Date: 5/1/2008
Citation: Adeli, A., Shankle, M. W., Tewolde, H., Sistani, K.R., Rowe, D. E. 2008. Nutrient dynamics and availability from broiler litter applied to no-till cotton in an Upland soil. Agronomy Journal. 100:564-570. Interpretive Summary: Broiler litter contains significant concentrations of N, P, and K, as well as secondary and micronutrients and has been applied to row crops as an alternative source of fertilizer. Recently, no-till cotton in the southeast USA has dramatically increased. In the Delta region of Mississippi, about 40% of the cotton production is produced using no-till. In conjunction with cover crops, a significant acreage of no-till cotton is also produced in the upland soils. Implementation of conservation tillage systems such as no-till and poultry litter application to cotton in Mississippi may significantly increase nutrient concentrations in soil and create soil nutrient imbalance issues. Broiler litter applied in no-till systems acts as a mulch to reduce soil erosion, especially in Upland soils, while improving soil organic matter, conserving soil moisture, and providing nutrients for crops. However, manure application to no-till without incorporation may lower effectiveness as a nutrient source. Therefore, producers need an alternative cultural practice in no-till systems that minimizes nutrient concentration in runoff and volatilization losses of N while increasing plant available nutrients. Any cultural practices in a no-till system that reduces nutrient losses from the soil and increase the potential nutrient availability for crops could be agronomically and environmentally advantagous. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of shallow incorporation of broiler litter into the soil surface in a no-till cotton on nutrient availability, movement and accumulation.
Technical Abstract: Surface-applying broiler litter to a no-till cotton field increases the potential for loss of manure nutrients from the fields in runoff events and volitization of the NH4-N. An experiment was conducted on an upland Atwood silt loam soil (fine-silty, mixed, thermic Typic Paleududalfs) at the Pontotoc Ridge-Flatwoods to determine the effect of broiler litter incorporation into the surface soil on C sequestration and nutrient status. The experimental design was a randomized complete block with 6 treatments replicated four times. Treatments were an unfertilized control, inorganic N-P-K fertilizer, broiler litter at the rate of 5.5 Mg ha-1 plus 34 kg ha-1 supplemental N and 8.2 Mg ha-1, without supplemental N. Each broiler litter treatment was applied with and without surface incorporation. Broiler litter application to no-till cotton in an upland soil improved soil fertility indicators and plant growth. Application of broiler litter at the rate of 8.2 Mg ha-1 exceeded cotton nutrient utilization potential as evidenced by increasing soil NO3-N and accumulation of P, K, Cu and Zn in the top 5 cm soil depth. At the same rate, incorporation of broiler litter into the soil surface resulted in greater C and nutrient contents in the soil than non-incorporation, indicating potential losses of nutrients with non-incorporation. The ability to incorporate broiler litter into the soil surface in a no-till cotton increases the potential of C sequestration, conserves nutrients in the soil and minimizes the potential losses of nutrients from the field.