Rainfall Simulation to Evaluate Nutrient Loss from Marietta Soil Amended with Poultry and Cattle Manure

Author(s): Read, J.; McLaughlin, M.; Adeli, A.

The main waste product produced by the broiler chicken industry is litter (manure and bedding materials), which is typically used as N-P-K fertilizer for pasture and hay crops on the producing farm or nearby farms. Studies in Mississippi indicate the average annual addition of nutrients is approximately 289 kg ha-1 N, 150 kg ha-1 P2O5, and 299 kg ha-1 K2O, assuming all the litter was applied on the ‘average’ 54-ha farm without allowance for buildings, roads, water bodies, or forests. Of the total land area, approximately 474,000 ha is utilized for grazing by livestock, which constitutes another source of manure nutrients. The build up of N and P at the soil surface (0-15 cm) increases the potential for degradation of surface and groundwater resources, but the ultimate fate of much of the manure N and P is not known. This paper presents results of a rainfall-simulation study conducted in the greenhouse using eight, 8-cm deep PVC troughs (0.20 m wide x 1.45 m long) that contained sod of common bermudagrass collected from a Marietta loam soil. The objective was to determine if the combination of cattle feces (dung) and broiler litter increased the potential nutrient load in the surface-water runoff, as compared to broiler litter only. The treatments comprised 130 g litter (~3500 mg N) to six troughs, 24 g dung (~144 mg N) to four of these six; and two un-amended controls. The quantity and quality of soil leachate was determined after five ‘events’ at a rainfall intensity of 75 mm h-1. Results indicated total N loads of 64, 366, and 378 milligrams in the control, broiler litter and litter + dung treatments, respectively, which renders a N-leaching loss of approximately 10% for Marietta soil under these conditions. The majority of leachate N, 40 to 70% across manure-amended troughs, was recovered in the first rainfall event. In general, NH4 was the predominant inorganic constituent recovered in leachate. The quantity of leachate N was similar in the litter and litter + dung treatments, suggesting cattle grazing is not expected to contribute significantly to the N loss in runoff from pasture fertilized with 4.48 Mg broiler litter ha-1. Results will be discussed in relation to managing bermudagrass, broiler litter and grazing to decrease watershed runoff losses of N and P.

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Technical Sessions

1 Best Management Practices #1
2 Delta Water Assessment
3 Flood Assessment & Mgmt.
4 Wetlands
5 Watershed Mgmt. #1
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