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Poultry Litter Placement Effects on Cotton Seedling Emergence and Early Growth

Yaru Lin, Dexter B. Watts, Thomas R. Way
Agronomy journal 2017 v.109 no.4 pp. 1678-1686
Gossypium hirsutum, ammonium sulfate, application rate, band placement, chlorophyll, cotton, crop yield, fertilizer application, fertilizers, greenhouse experimentation, leaf area, leaves, loamy sand soils, nitrogen, phosphorus, phytomass, poultry manure, rowcrops, runoff, seedling emergence, seeds, sowing, surface water, volatilization, Southeastern United States
CORE IDEAS: Sowing into poultry litter bands inhibits seed emergence and root establishment. Aboveground plant production during early cotton growth stages may be negatively impacted by sowing into poultry litter bands. Banding poultry litter beside crop rows may be an effective fertilizer management strategy. Interest in using poultry litter (PL) as a nutrient source for row crop production has increased in the southeastern United States. Poultry litter is generally broadcasted on the soil surface. This practice exposes N to volatilization and P to loss with surface water runoff, which potentially negatively impacts the environment. Placing PL in narrow bands below the soil surface has been shown to reduce such losses and improve crop yield, but the influence of band placement on seedling emergence and growth is not well understood. A glasshouse experiment was conducted with a Marvyn loamy sand to determine the effects of PL placement on emergence and early growth of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.). Poultry litter placement was compared with ammonium sulfate (AS); both were applied at a rate of 112 kg N ha⁻¹. The PL and AS treatments consisted of surface broadcasting, banding 5 cm below or to the side of seed, seeding directly in bands, and an unfertilized control. Banding 5 cm to the side of seeds produced emergence rates, plant biomass, leaf area, leaf chlorophyll content, and root morphological parameters similar to those of the control and surface broadcast treatments for cotton fertilized with AS and PL. However, seeds placed directly in PL or AS bands had the lowest emergence rate and growth parameters. Therefore, banding PL 5 cm or more to the side of seeds may be an effective fertilizer management strategy for cotton production.