Submitted to: Journal of Plant Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/2/2020
Publication Date: 6/2/2021
Citation: Adeli, A., Brooks, J.P., Read, J.J., Barksdale, D.N., Jenkins, J.N. 2021. Pelleted biosolid and cover crop effects on major southern row crops. Journal of Plant Nutrition. 44(18); 2677-2690. https://doi.org/10.1080/01904167.2021.1927090.
Interpretive Summary: The goal for sustainable agriculture is to manage production practices so that soil quality are improved, crop yields are maximized, and adverse environmental effects are minimized. With high N-fertilizer prices, animal and industrial by-products such as poultry litter and biosolid stand out as alternative source of fertilizer for crop productions. Broiler litter, which is generated in large quantities in the southeastern of the United States, has long been recognized as a desirable organic fertilizer, substantially applied to row crops. Despite economic benefits of beneficial use of biosolid, very small percentage of total amount of biosolid produced in the US is currently utilized as soil amendment for crop production. The difficulties in transport and field application are two major problems. In recent years due to increased regulation of unprocessed organic wastes, they have been turned to pelletized forms to increase the economic feasibility of transportation and handling. The fertilizing potential value and response of row crops to heat-dried and pelleted biosolid relative to inorganic-N fertilizer needs to be investigated. Recently, Heat-dried and pelleted biosolid is being sold under the trade name of Top Choice Organic (TCO) by some fertilizer dealers in southeastern United States and many farmers in Mississippi and Arkansas have used this product in their cropping system as an alternative fertilizer N. However, the relative efficiency of pelleted biosolid and its fertilizing potential have not been documented. Growers who might be interested in using this soil amendment will benefit from the research aimed at defining fertilizer value of pelleted biosolid relative to inorganic fertilizer. Thus, a field study was conducted to determine the effects of pelleted biosolid relative to poultry litter, commonly used on row crops in the region, and inorganic fertilizer N on corn and cotton yield, N and P utilizations and its residual effect on soybean performance all in the presence and absence of cover crops.
Technical Abstract: The effectiveness of pelleted biosolid as row crops fertilizer in southeastern United States has not been well documented. A field study was conducted from 2015 - 2019 on a Marietta loam in Plant Science Center at Mississippi State to determine the response of corn (Zea mays) and cotton (Gossypium hirsutum ) to pelleted biosolid relative to poultry litter and inorganic fertilizer N and evaluate its residual effect on soybean (Glycine max) performance. Treatments included pelleted biosolid and poultry litter at agronomic rate of 400 kg total N ha-1 to corn and 250 kg total N ha-1 to cotton, pelleted biosolid at single high rate of 1350 kg total N ha-1, inorganic fertilizer N and unfertilized control all in the presence and absence of winter cover crop residues. Except in 2019, corn grain and cotton lint yield were similar among pelleted biosolid, poultry litter and inorganic fertilizer N at agronomic rate. Seed cotton yield, aboveground biomass and N recovery were significantly greater by 7, 14 and 22% respectively with winter cover crop residue than with winter fallow. The effects of residual pelletized biosolid on soybean grain yield was greater than control and inorganic fertilizer N. The results show 31- 40% of the total N from applied pelleted biosolid become available for corn and cotton in the first growing season. Single application of pelleted biosold at the high rate is not recommended due to excess NO3-N leaching loss and substantial P accumulations at the top 15 cm depth which is not environmentally sound.