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Subsurface Band Application of Poultry Litter and Its Influence on Phosphorus Concentration and Retention after Runoff from Permanent Pastures

Dexter B. Watts, Thomas R. Way, H. Allen Torbert, Shalamar D. Armstrong
Journal of environmental quality 2015 v.44 no.6 pp. 1930-1937
Cynodon dactylon, application rate, band placement, coastal plains, eutrophication, fertilizer application, fertilizers, lakes, nutrients, pasture management, pastures, permanent grasslands, phosphorus, piedmont, poultry manure, rivers, runoff, soil nutrients, soil types, streams, surface water, triple superphosphate, urea
Excessive phosphorus (P) loss from agricultural fields is a major cause of eutrophication to rivers, lakes, and streams. To mitigate P loss after poultry litter (PL) applications, technology is being developed to apply litter below the soil surface. Thus, research was conducted to evaluate the effects of subsurface PL banding on soil P under pasture management. Treatments consisted of surface-broadcasted or subsurface-banded PL (38 cm apart) at 9 Mg ha⁻¹, surface-broadcasted commercial fertilizer (CF; urea and triple superphosphate blend) at N (330 kg N ha⁻¹) and P (315 kg N ha⁻¹) application rates equivalent to PL, and a nonfertilized control. Runoff events lasting 40 min were simulated in bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon L.) pastures on common soil types of the Coastal Plain and Piedmont regions. One day later, Mehlich-1 and water-soluble P concentrations in soil were measured at depths of 0 to 5 cm and 5 to 10 cm to determine P distribution and movement. The greatest P concentrations were observed at the shallow depth for all treatments. Phosphorus measurements at the point of application for PL bands were greater than for the surface-applied treatments (PL and CF) and control. Measurements between subsurface PL bands were slightly higher than the control but were statistically similar, suggesting that this application method can abate short-term P movement. Results obtained from this study show that subsurface band applying PL could increase P retention and reduce movement by precluding contact between surface water and litter nutrients.