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Location: Plant Science Research

Title: Phosphorus availability and early corn growth response in soil amended with turkey manure ash

item Pagliari, Paulo
item Strock, Jeffrey
item Rosen, Carl
item Russelle, Michael

Submitted to: Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/26/2009
Publication Date: 1/1/2010
Publication URL:
Citation: Pagliari, P.H., Rosen, C.J., Strock, J.S., Russelle, M.P. 2010. Phosphorus availability and early corn growth response in soil amended with turkey manure ash. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis. 41(11):1369-1382.

Interpretive Summary: Waste products (animal manure, wood ash, paper mill sludge, etc.) have been used as valuable soil amendments to improve crop yield, but each product should be analyzed before it is used to determine its beneficial and potentially adverse effects. With the deployment of new biomass conversion facilities that produce energy and liquid fuels from agricultural and forestry feedstocks, new waste products are becoming available. In 2007, the first large-scale 'manure-to-energy' facility in the USA was built to use turkey manure as the primary feedstock. We tested the ash to discover whether it provided phosphorus to young corn plants, since phosphorus is an important nutrient that is expensive to purchase and often is deficient in the soil. We found that the turkey manure ash initially provided phosphorus more slowly than commercial fertilizer. This is often the case for organic sources of phosphorus because they contain compounds that need to be broken down before phosphorus is available to the plants. By the time the corn plants were 52 days old, they had taken up the same amount of phosphorus from the ash and the fertilizer. Although experiments need to be conducted in the field to determine how much ash should be applied to satisfy the crop's need for phosphorus, our results show that it can be beneficially used as a fertilizer.

Technical Abstract: Incinerating turkey manure is an alternative option to generate renewable energy and also to eliminate environmental problems associated with manure stockpiling. Incineration produces a turkey manure ash (TMA) with a fertilizer value of 4.3% P and 10% K. We conducted a greenhouse pot-study using a low-P (6 mg kg-1) and high-K (121 mg kg-1) soil/sand-mixture with a pH 7.0 to evaluate corn (Zea mays L.) growth response to TMA. A control and five rates based on P (5.6, 10.7, 16.5, 21.9, and 27.2 mg kg-1) and respective K contents in the TMA were compared with TSP and KCl fertilizer. Plant height and stalk thickness for the first 31 d were highest with the fertilizer, but no differences were detected at harvest (52 d after planting). Due to faster initial plant development, corn DM was greater with fertilizer than with TMA. Regardless of nutrient source, plant biomass increased with P rate. Plant tissue P concentration was higher with TMA than with fertilizer, but P uptake was similar for TMA and fertilizer. Tissue micronutrient concentrations were highest for the control. At harvest, extractable soil P was higher with the Bray P-1 extractant with TMA than with fertilizer but was lower with the Olsen extractant with TMA than with fertilizer. The correlation analysis indicated that the Olsen extractant provided a better estimate of plant-available P than the Bray P-1. We concluded that TMA was a potential source of P for field crops, but field studies are required to determine recommended application rates.