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Runoff Quality from No-Till Cotton Fertilized with Broiler Litter in Subsurface Bands

A. Adeli, H. Tewolde, M. W. Shankle, T. R. Way, J. P. Brooks, M. R. McLaughlin
Journal of environmental quality 2013 v.42 no.1 pp. 284-291
Gossypium hirsutum, band placement, cotton, cover crops, crop residues, equipment, experimental design, fertilizer application, highlands, losses from soil, no-tillage, nutrient content, nutrients, pollution load, poultry manure, rainfall simulation, risk, runoff, silt loam soils, soil bacteria, soil nutrients, volatilization, winter wheat
Surface broadcast of broiler litter to no-till row crops exposes the litter and its nutrients to risks of loss in runoff water and volatilization and may limit the potential benefit of litter to the crops. Subsurface banding of litter could alleviate these risks. A field study was conducted in 2008 and 2009 on an upland Falkner silt loam soil to determine the effect of broiler litter placement on runoff nutrient losses from no-till cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.). Treatments included surface broadcast broiler litter applied manually, subsurface-banded litter applied by tractor-drawn equipment, and no broiler litter, all in combination with or without winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) cover crop residue. Broiler litter rate was 5.6 Mg ha⁻¹. The experimental design was a randomized complete block with a split-plot arrangement of treatments replicated three times. In 2008, simulated rainfall was used to generate runoff 27 d after litter application. Subsurface-banded litter reduced runoff total C, N, P, NH₄, NO₃, Cu, Zn and water-soluble P (WP) concentrations by 72, 64, 51, 49, 70, 36, 65, and 77%, respectively, compared with surface broadcast. The reductions were greater in 2009 where runoff occurred 1 d after litter application. Bacterial runoff was decreased by one log with subsurface-banded litter compared to surface broadcast. Except for C, NH₄⁺, N, and WP, the presence of winter cover crop residue did not affect the load or runoff nutrient concentrations in either year. The results indicate that subsurface banding litter to no-till cotton substantially reduces nutrient and bacterial losses in runoff compared with surface broadcasting.