Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/23/2011
Publication Date: 1/1/2012
Citation: Adeli, A., Tewolde, H., Jenkins, J.N. 2012. Broiler litter type and placement effects on corn growth, nitrogen utilization and residual soil nitrate-nitrogen in a no-till field. Agronomy Journal. 104:43-48.
Interpretive Summary: No-till planting has become the most common form of conservation tillage in corn. Approximately one million acres corn was planted no-till in the southeastern United States in 2004. As agricultural input costs for row crops have reduced growers’ profits, interest in using poultry litter as an inexpensive and important alternative source of nutrients for crop production has increased. Adoption of no-till system and use of poultry litter as an alternative to inorganic fertilizers may help corn producers economically boost corn grain yield. However, manure application to no-till, where incorporation is not permitted, may reduce its effectiveness as a nutrient source because of potential N loss via runoff and ammonia volatilization. Efficient use of broiler litter derived-N is important in crop production to maximize economic returns and maintain soil and water quality. The use of alternative management practices to eliminate or minimize litter exposure to the air and rain should be agronomically and environmentally beneficial. Placing broiler litter in narrow bands below the soil surface has been shown to be a successful technique for decreasing nutrient losses. However, the agronomic response of corn to the sub-surface banding of broiler litter under no-till system has not been investigated.
Technical Abstract: Field experiments were conducted in 2008 and 2009 on a private farm at Caledonia, Mississippi, on a Caledonia silt loam to determine the effects of broiler litter types and placements on corn (Zea mays L.) grain and biological yield, N utilization, post-residual soil NO3-N. Six treatments were used in a randomized complete block with four replications. Treatments were an unfertilized control, inorganic N fertilizer at the rate of 180 kg ha-1, sub-surface and surface broadcast of non-pelletized and pelletized litter at the rate of 11.2 Mg ha-1. No differences in grain yield, total N uptake, apparent N use efficiency and leaf chlorophyll index at physiological maturity were obtained between pelletized and non-pelletized litter where both litter types were sub-surface banded. However, for surface broadcast the values were greater for pelletized than non-pelletized litter which could be related to loss of N from surface broadcast of non-pelletized litter. Sub-surface banding of non-pelletized litter resulted in greater grain yield, harvest index, total N utilization and apparent N use efficiency by 16%, 9%, 8% and 52%, respectively, compared with surface broadcast, however, placement did not affect those variables where pelletized litter was used. In conclusion, sub-surface banding of non-pelletized litter appears to be an efficient way of delivering litter derived-nutrients.