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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fayetteville, Arkansas » Poultry Production and Product Safety Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #389137

Research Project: Developing Best Management Practices for Poultry Litter to Improve Agronomic Value and Reduce Air, Soil and Water Pollution

Location: Poultry Production and Product Safety Research

Title: Evaluating optimum seeding distances from subsurface banding poultry litter in crop rotations

item Ashworth, Amanda
item Nieman, Christine

Submitted to: Agricultural & Environmental Letters
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/10/2021
Publication Date: 1/30/2022
Citation: Ashworth, A.J., Nieman, C.C. 2022. Evaluating optimum seeding distances from subsurface banding poultry litter in crop rotations. Agricultural & Environmental Letters. 7(1). Article e20063.

Interpretive Summary: Poultry litter (or excreta plus bedding and dead birds) land application has the proven ability to substantially increase crop yields and enhance soil health. However, surface applications have been scrutinized for water quality reductions from excess phosphorus runoff into neighboring waterbodies. In efforts address these concerns and improve management options that prevent nutrient losses and aid in efficient poultry litter usage, a research team at the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service developed a prototype tractor-drawn implement for subsurface band application of dry poultry litter in conservation tillage systems. This 'ARS Subsurfer' has proven success in perennial pasture systems, but little information exists on appropriate crop seeding distance from poultry litter bands to increase crop yield and quality. Therefore, researchers set out to evaluate corn and soybean planting distance from subsurface litter bands for optimum crop yield (grain and forage) and quality under rainfed and irrigated conditions. Authors found that all subsurface banding treatment distances had greater total yields than surface applied poultry litter. Overall, adoption of subsurface banding poultry litter (relative to surface applications) will enhance soil, water, and nutrient conservation, particularly in corn-soybean rotations.

Technical Abstract: Poultry litter is a nutrient-dense fertilizer, but surface applications lead to nutrient losses to the air, soil, and water. Objectives were to evaluate crop seeding distance from subsurface-applied poultry litter bands in a corn (Zea Mays L.)-soybean (Glycine max L.) rotation. Soil amendment treatments included planting 13, 25, and 38-cm from subsurface banded poultry litter, surface-applied poultry litter, inorganic-N, and 0 kg N ha-1 (control) in year one, followed by soybean in year-two (no new soil amendment applications). Across all subsurface treatments, corn grain and silage yields were 45 and 30% greater than surface applications, respectively, with inorganic-N not differing from the 25 and 38-cm bands during grain harvest. In year two, subsurface-banded soybean grain yields were 26% greater than inorganic-N. Consequently, subsurface banding poultry litter may be a viable replacement for surface litter applications in corn silage and grain systems and inorganic-N in corn-soybean rotations.