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Subsurface Application of Poultry Litter and Its Influence on Nutrient Losses in Runoff Water from Permanent Pastures

Watts, D.B., Way, T.R., Torbert, H.A.
Journal of environmental quality 2011 v.40 no.2 pp. 421
poultry manure, nutrients, agricultural runoff, pastures, nitrogen, animal manure management, application methods, phosphorus, agricultural machinery and equipment, rainfall simulation, Cynodon dactylon, piedmont soils, coastal soils, loamy sand soils, fine-textured soils, kaolinitic soils, Kanhapludults, land application, urea fertilizers, superphosphate, fertilizer rates, water quality, water pollution, surface water
Environmental pressure to reduce nutrient losses from agricultural fields has increased in recent years. To abate this nutrient loss to the environment, better management practices and new technologies need to be developed. Thus, research was conducted to evaluate if subsurface banding poultry litter (PL) would reduce nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) loss in surface water runoff using a four-row prototype implement. Rainfall simulations were conducted to create a 40-min runoff event in an established bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon L.) pasture on soil types common to the Coastal Plain and Piedmont regions. The Coastal Plain soil type was a Marvyn loamy sand (fine-loamy, kaolinitic, thermic Typic Kanhapludults) and the Piedmont soil type was a Hard Labor loamy sand (fine, kaolinitic, thermic Oxyaquic Kanhapludults). Treatments consisted of surface- and subsurface-applied PL at a rate of 9 Mg ha−1, surface broadcast–applied commercial fertilizer (CF; urea and triple superphosphate blend) at the equivalent N (330 kg N ha−1) and P (315 kg N ha−1) content of PL, and a nonfertilized control. The greatest loss for inorganic N, total N, dissolved reactive P (DRP), and total P occurred with the surface broadcast treatments, with CF contributing to the greatest loss. Nutrient losses from the subsurface banded treatment reduced N and P in surface water runoff to levels of the control. Subsurface banding of PL reduced concentrations of inorganic N 91%, total N 90%, DRP 86%, and total P 86% in runoff water compared with surface broadcasted PL. These results show that subsurface band–applied PL can greatly reduce the impact of N and P loss to the environment compared with conventional surface-applied PL and CF practices.