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Title: Nutrient loss in leachate and surface runoff from surface-broadcast and subsurface-banded broiler litter

Author
item LAMBA, JASMEET - University Of Wisconsin
item SRIVASTAVA, PUNEET - Auburn University
item Way, Thomas - Tom
item SEN, SUMIT - Indian Institute Of Technology
item WOOD, C - Auburn University
item YOO, KYUNG - Auburn University

Submitted to: Journal of Environmental Quality
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/24/2013
Publication Date: 3/15/2013
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/62407
Citation: Lamba, J., Srivastava, P., Way, T.R., Sen, S., Wood, C.W., Yoo, K.H. 2013. Nutrient loss in leachate and surface runoff from surface-broadcast and subsurface-banded broiler litter. Journal of Environmental Quality. 42(5):1574-1582.

Interpretive Summary: Broiler chicken litter, which is a mixture of chicken manure and a bedding material, is commonly used as a fertilizer on pastures and cropland in broiler-producing areas. Poultry litter is typically land-applied by broadcasting the litter over the soil surface. Rain falling on soil to which poultry litter has been applied, may carry phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) nutrients from the soil into water bodies contributing to eutrophication. A prototype implement for applying poultry litter in shallow trenches and covering the litter with soil has been developed at the USDA-ARS National Soil Dynamics Lab at Auburn, AL. An experiment was conducted to determine amounts of nutrients transported in leachate water down through the top 50 cm (18 in.) of the soil profile, for the conventional method of surface broadcast application of litter and for this new method of subsurface-band application. The experiment was conducted on tall fescue pasture plots using rainfall simulation on a sandy loam soil in northeastern Alabama. Results showed that only 10% of the rainfall contributed to surface runoff, so 90% of the rainfall infiltrated into the soil. The concentration of P and N nutrients in the leachate and the mass of P and N nutrients in the leachate were typically greater for the conventional surface-applied litter treatment than for the new subsurface-banded litter treatment. These results show that subsurface band application of litter can greatly reduce losses of N and P to the environment.

Technical Abstract: Subsurface band application of poultry litter has been shown to reduce the transport of nutrients from fields in surface runoff, compared to the conventional surface broadcast application. Little in situ research has been conducted to determine effects of surface broadcast application and subsurface banding of litter, on nutrients in subsurface water flow. Therefore, an experiment was conducted to determine effects of subsurface band application and surface broadcast application of poultry litter on phosphorus (P) and nitrogen (N) losses in subsurface water flow. Zero-tension pan and passive capillary fiberglass wick lysimeters were installed 50 cm beneath the surface of in situ soil of established tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) pasture on a sandy loam soil. The treatments were surface broadcast and subsurface-banded poultry litter at 5.0 Mg/ha, and an unfertilized control. Rainfall simulations were conducted using 70 mm/h simulated rainfall to generate 1 h of runoff. Results showed that only 10% of the rainfall contributed to surface runoff. In the leachate collected by the lysimeters, the concentration of PO4-P was significantly greater for the surface-applied litter treatment than for the subsurface-banded litter treatment and the control. For both total P (TP) and NH4-N, the concentrations in the leachate were significantly greater for the surface-applied and subsurface-banded litter treatments, compared to the control. The NO3-N concentration in the leachate was statistically equal for the surface-applied and subsurface-banded litter treatments, and the control. The trend in the loading of nutrients in leachate was similar to the trend of the concentrations. Significantly greater concentration and loading of the nutrients (TP, PO4-P, NH4-N, and NO3-N) in runoff were observed for the surface-applied treatment than for the subsurface-banded treatment and there was no significant difference in concentration of nutrients between the control and subsurface-banded litter treatment. These results show that, compared to conventional surface broadcast application of litter, subsurface band application of litter can greatly reduce losses of N and P to the environment.