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ARS Home » Northeast Area » University Park, Pennsylvania » Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #322279

Title: Subsurface application enhances benefits of manure redistribution

item LIU, JIAN - Pennsylvania State University
item Kleinman, Peter
item BEEGLE, DOUGLAS - Pennsylvania State University
item Dell, Curtis
item Veith, Tameria - Tamie
item Saporito, Louis - Lou
item HAN, KUN - Shandong Agricultural University
item Pote, Daniel
item Bryant, Ray

Submitted to: Agricultural and Environmental Letters
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/11/2016
Publication Date: 2/12/2016
Citation: Liu, J., Kleinman, P.J., Beegle, D., Dell, C.J., Veith, T.L., Saporito, L.S., Han, K., Pote, D.H., Bryant, R.B. 2016. Subsurface application enhances benefits of manure redistribution. Agricultural and Environmental Letters. doi: 10.2134/ael2015.09.0003.

Interpretive Summary: Moving livestock manure from areas of local nutrient excess to areas of local nutrient deficit is key to the long-term sustainability of our food production systems. Scientists with USDA-ARS and Pennsylvania State University carried out field experiments to assess trade-offs in different methods of applying poultry litter to soils in a region that may become a destination for manures in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. While corn yields increased with any method of poultry litter application above yields derived from conventional fertilizer, subsurface application of manure provided many environmental benefits and long-term nutrient conservation benefits that were not seen with conventional surface application of manure. Results point to the need to include improved manure application technologies as part of agricultural programs that redistribute manures.

Technical Abstract: Sustainable nutrient management requires redistribution of livestock manure from nutrient-excess areas to nutrient-deficit areas. Field experiments were conducted to assess agronomic (i.e., corn yield) and environmental (i.e., ammonia volatilization and surface nutrient losses) effects of different poultry litter application methods (surface vs. subsurface) and timings (fall vs. spring) in a potential manure-importing region in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, USA. All four litter treatments (205 kg nitrogen ha^-1) produced grain yields (10.9-12.8 Mg ha^-1) equivalent to or higher than that expected from the equivalent mineral nitrogen rate (11.5 Mg ha^-1). Compared to surface application, subsurface application significantly reduced ammonia emission (p < 0.0001), runoff volume (fall: p = 0.02, spring: p = 0.004), and concentrations of nitrate nitrogen (p = 0.001 & 0.04) and dissolved phosphorus (p = 0.0007 & 0.0001) soon after application. In conclusion, subsurface manure application technologies should be integrated in the manure redistribution programs.