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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Bowling Green, Kentucky » Food Animal Environmental Systems Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #323304

Research Project: Efficient Management and Use of Animal Manure to Protect Human Health and Environmental Quality

Location: Food Animal Environmental Systems Research

Title: Corn response and soil nutrient concentration from subsurface application of poultry litter

Author
item Simmons, Jason
item Sistani, Karamat
item Pote, Daniel - Dan
item Ritchey, Edwin
item Jn-baptiste, Marcia
item Tewolde, Haile

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/20/2016
Publication Date: 7/11/2016
Citation: Simmons, J.R., Sistani, K.R., Pote, D.H., Ritchey, E.L., Jn-Baptiste, M., Tewolde, H. 2016. Corn response and soil nutrient concentration from subsurface application of poultry litter. Agronomy Journal. 108:1674-1680.

Interpretive Summary: Proper utilization of animal manure such as poultry litter as an alternative nutrient source to chemical fertilizers has gained attention by agricultural producers since the costs of chemical fertilizers have increased over the past. Disposing large quantities of poultry litter can also provide an economic opportunity to improve crop yields and soil quality due to poultry litter’s nutrient-rich organic matter composition. Poultry litter is traditionally broadcast on the surface of the soil which can cause loss of crop nutrients, produce malodorous compounds, and release particulate matter into the atmosphere. Poultry litter’s matrix contains a variety of elements; however, its role as a nitrogen (N) source is most utilized. It has been reported that the conventional application method of surface broadcasting poultry litter can cause as much as 60% of the N applied by poultry litter to volatilize as ammonia (NH3). This management strategy can create economic hardships for producers by requiring additional application of N inputs or a reduction in yield potential from N deficiency. In this study, we used farm-scale plots to evaluate the response of no-till corn growth and post-harvest soil nutrient concentrations from subsurface poultry litter application. All treatments were applied pre-plant at a rate of 168 kg N ha-1 which included a standard commercial fertilizer surface broadcast, poultry litter surface applied, and poultry litter applied in subsurface bands placed 30 cm apart and 8 cm deep below the soil surface. Results showed that poultry litter subsurface banded plots resulted in corn grain and above ground biomass yields similar to plots treated with commercial fertilizer. In 2011, corn grain yield of 11.35 ton/ha produced by the subsurface banded poultry litter treatment was significantly higher when compared to surface applied poultry litter that yielded 10.10 ton/ha. Poultry litter application method did not have a significant effect on post-harvest soil chemical properties. Results from this study suggest that subsurface banding of poultry litter can be utilized as an alternate application method in no-till corn without detrimental impacts on productivity.

Technical Abstract: Nitrogen fertilizer management is vital to corn (Zea mays L.) production from financial and environmental perspectives. Poultry litter as a nutrient source in this cropping system is generally surface broadcast, potentially causing volatilization of NH3. Recently a new application method was developed allowing subsurface banding of poultry litter with minimal soil surface disturbance. However, there are limited data with this application method on corn production. In this study, we used farm-scale plots (7.6 m x 91.2 m) to evaluate the response of no-till corn growth and post-harvest soil nutrient concentrations from subsurface poultry litter application. All treatments were applied pre-plant at a rate of 168 kg N/ha and included (i) a standard commercial fertilizer surface broadcast, (ii) poultry litter surface applied, and (iii) poultry litter applied in subsurface bands placed 30 cm apart and 8 cm deep below the soil surface. Results showed that poultry litter subsurface banded plots resulted in corn grain and above ground biomass yields similar to plots treated with commercial fertilizer. In 2011, corn grain yield of 11.35 Mg/ha produced by the subsurface banded poultry litter treatment was significantly higher when compared to surface applied poultry litter that yielded 10.10 Mg/ha. Poultry litter application method did not have a significant effect on post-harvest soil pH, total C, total N, NH4+-N, NO3--N, P, and K concentrations. Results from this study suggest that subsurface banding of poultry litter can be utilized as an alternate application method in no-till corn without detrimental impacts on productivity.