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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Mississippi State, Mississippi » Crop Science Research Laboratory » Genetics and Sustainable Agriculture Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #343438

Research Project: Integration of Site-Specific Crop Production Practices and Industrial and Animal Agricultural Byproducts to Improve Agricultural Competitiveness and Sustainability

Location: Genetics and Sustainable Agriculture Research

Title: Poultry litter band placement affects accessibility and conservation of nutrients and cotton yield

Author
item Tewolde, Haile
item Shankle, M - Mississippi State University
item Way, Thomas - Tom
item Pote, Daniel - Dan
item Sistani, Karamat
item He, Zhongqi

Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/4/2017
Publication Date: 1/12/2018
Citation: Tewolde, H., Shankle, M.W., Way, T.R., Pote, D.H., Sistani, K.R., He, Z. 2018. Poultry litter band placement affects accessibility and conservation of nutrients and cotton yield. Agronomy Journal. 110(2)675-684. doi:10.2134/agronj2017.07.0387.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.2134/agronj2017.07.0387

Interpretive Summary: Much of the poultry litter generated by the poultry production industry as a waste is land-applied as a fertilizer for crops. The conventional way of applying the litter, which is usually dry or semi-dry, is by broadcasting it on the soil surface with farm-scale mechanical spreaders. This way of applying the material, however, leads to losses of its constituents by volatilization while applying it and in runoff water after applying it. In an effort to find better ways of applying the litter for crops, USDA-ARS engineers and scientists have developed prototype implements that place dry litter in narrow bands below the soil surface protected from exposure. Such placement has been shown to be by far more efficient than the traditional surface broadcast method. The efficiency of applying litter in bands could further be improved by finding proper placement in terms of band spacing. In this study we investigated whether poultry litter band placement affects cotton yield and growth by affecting nutrient accessibility and conservation. The results revealed that applying litter in a single “thick” subsurface band per row leads to greater conservation of the litter and its nutrients than splitting the litter into multiple “thinner” subsurface bands. Young plants, however, had better access to the litter if it is placed in multiple rather than single bands per row of cotton plants. Banding on the soil surface leads to loss of litter benefits but the losses may not be great enough to disregard the method as an alternative to broadcast application in no-till cotton production. This study provides indispensable information for choosing the proper and most efficient way of delivering litter for no-till cotton production.

Technical Abstract: The placement and spacing of subsurface manure bands relative to the plant row may affect crop growth and yield by affecting nutrient accessibility and conservation. The objective of this study was to determine whether poultry litter band placement affects cotton yield and growth by affecting nutrient accessibility and conservation. Fresh broiler chicken litter (6.1 Mg ha-1 yr-1) applied in subsurface bands spaced 1.02 m apart (wide) (SSw) was compared against the same litter rate applied in subsurface (SSn) or surface (SFn) bands spaced 0.30 m apart (narrow). An unfertilized control (UFC) and a standard treatment fertilized with synthetic fertilizers (Std) were also included. No-till cotton was planted in rows spaced 1.01-m apart parallel to the litter bands. The SSw treatment resulted in 14% higher lint yield than the SSn treatment in the last 2 yr of stopping litter applications. The SSw treatment also increased wheat cover crop biomass by =20% relative to the SSn treatment. The results suggest applying litter in single “thick” subsurface band per row leads to greater conservation of the litter and its nutrients than splitting the litter into multiple “thinner” subsurface bands. Higher tissue N and K concentrations and greater biomass in young (1 mo) cotton plants suggested that litter band accessibility in the early stages is greater with multiple rather than single bands per row. Banding on the soil surface leads to loss of litter benefits but the losses may not be great enough to disregard the method as an alternative to broadcast application in no-till cropping systems.