Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/16/2008
Publication Date: 5/1/2009
Citation: Tewolde, H., Buehring, N., Adeli, A., Sistani, K.R., Rowe, D.E., Pratt, R.G. 2009. Cotton response to chicken litter in a rotation with corn in clayey soil. Agronomy Journal. 101:626-634. Interpretive Summary: Cotton in the heavier soils of northern Mississippi and other cotton growing states is customarily rotated with corn or other crops every 2 to 3 years to prevent yield declines. Fertilizing cotton with poultry litter may mitigate or reverse lint yield declines due to lack of rotation. This research investigated whether fertilizing with broiler chicken litter maintains lint yield of cotton planted in the same soil continuously for 3 years in the heavier Black Belt Prairie clay soils of northern Mississippi. The results show adequate fertilization with poultry litter may be more important to improving and maintaining cotton lint yield in this soil than the perceived benefit of a short term rotation with corn. Planting cotton after 1 year of corn did not improve yield of cotton compared to planting cotton yearly in the same soil for 3 consecutive years. But, fertilizing cotton with 6 tons chicken litter per acre produced up to 26% more lint than fertilizing with standard commercial fertilizers with or without rotation. This shows farmers who grow cotton in this or similar soils may increase yield while reducing cost of production if they fertilize with chicken litter instead of the more expensive commercial fertilizers.
Technical Abstract: Poultry litter has proven to be an effective cotton fertilizer under conventional and no-till systems in silt loam soils in Mississippi. It may also prove to be a valuable fertilizer in heavier soils where cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) is typically rotated with corn (Zea mays L.) or other crops. The objective of this research was to determine the effectiveness of poultry litter in maintaining yield of continuous cotton compared with cotton-corn rotation in the heavier Black Belt Prairie clay soils of northern Mississippi. The research was conducted at the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, Verona, MS, in a Catalpa silty clay loam soil (Fine, smectitic, thermic Fluvaquentic Hapludolls). Three main plots with the sequence cotton-cotton-cotton, cotton-corn-cotton, and corn-cotton-cotton in 2003-2004-2005 were split into five subplots each of which received 0, 4.5, 9.0, 13.5 Mg litter ha-1 yr-1, or 123 kg N ha-1 yr-1 as urea-ammonium nitrate solution with 32% N (UAN) (Std). The Std received 180 kg ha-1 UAN-N if planted with corn. The results showed 3 yr continuous cotton, when adequately fertilized, produced about the same lint yield as cotton that followed corn or 1 yr cotton. Cotton that followed corn seemed to yield less than cotton that followed 1 or 2 yr cotton when the fertilization was less than adequate, a finding that suggests cotton receives less residual soil nutrients when planted after corn than after cotton. Unlike soils in other locations where =9.0 Mg ha-1 litter was adequate to produce yield equal to standard inorganic fertilization, cotton in this soil responded to litter up to 13.5 Mg ha-1, a finding which suggests lint yield in the Black Belt Prairie clay soils may be optimized with larger amounts of litter than in other lighter soils. Cotton fertilized with 13.5 Mg ha-1 litter outyielded the Std fertilization by up to 26%. This response was the same regardless of the rotation. The results show adequate fertilization with poultry litter may be more important to improving and maintaining cotton lint yield in this soil than the perceived benefit of a short term rotation with corn.