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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Booneville, Arkansas » Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #314791

Research Project: Sustainable Small Farm and Organic Production Systems for Livestock and Agroforestry

Location: Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center

Title: Injecting poultry litter into orchardgrass hay

item KULESZA, STEPHANIE - Virginia Tech
item MAGUIRE, RORY - Virginia Tech
item THOMASON, WADE - Virginia Tech
item Pote, Daniel

Submitted to: Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/20/2016
Publication Date: 5/4/2016
Citation: Kulesza, S.B., Maguire, R.O., Thomason, W.E., Pote, D.H. 2016. Injecting poultry litter into orchardgrass hay. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis. 47(11):1389-1397.

Interpretive Summary: Poultry litter is often used as organic fertilizer for pastures and hay fields, but the common practice of spreading litter on the soil surface can result in substantial nutrient losses to the environment. Researchers injected dry poultry litter beneath the surface of orchardgrass fields to determine the effects of this application method on hay yield and quality. They found that litter injection significantly increased protein content of orchardgrass hay, but did not significantly increase the yield when compared to surface-applied litter. This study is of interest to agricultural producers, extension personnel, scientists, and the general public because poultry litter injection can provide an effective management option to help farmers reduce nitrogen losses in grassland systems and increase nitrogen recovery in the following hay crop.

Technical Abstract: Traditional surface application of poultry litter leaves nutrients vulnerable to loss through volatilization and runoff. However, injection can increase capture of these nutrients in agricultural fields. Therefore, a field experiment was conducted to determine the effects of poultry litter injection on orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) hay yield and quality. Poultry litter was injected or surface applied at the recommended agronomic rate (high) and half that rate (low) in 2012 and 2013 in an established field of orchardgrass. Soil was sampled to 15 cm, and no significant differences were detected between treatments. Though not always statistically significant, first cutting orchardgrass yields tended to be greater with surface litter application. Injected treatments had greater protein concentrations than their respective surface treatment, showing greater nitrogen uptake when protein was weighted by yield. Protein was the same for high-rate surface and low-rate injected treatments, showing that the same N uptake was achieved.