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Soil Test Nutrient Changes Induced by Poultry Litter under Conventional Tillage and No-Tillage

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Poultry litter (PL) can supply N, P, K, and other plant nutrients; however, excessive application may cause environmental problems, depending on management and crop nutrient demand. Changes in soil test (ST) nutrient content in a Cecil soil (a fine, kaolinitic, thermic Typic Kanhapludult) during a 10-yr period of PL use was evaluated at the USDA-ARS J. Phil Campbell, Sr., Natural Resource Conservation Center, Watkinsville, GA. During the cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) cropping phase (1995-2000), 4.4 Mg PL ha-1 yr-1 resulted in small changes in ST nutrient content in the surface 15 cm. Differences were observed between tillage treatments, with less accumulation of Ca, Mg, and Mn and greater accumulation of Zn for no-till (NT) than conventional tillage (CT). During the corn (Zea mays L.) cropping phase (2001-2005), average annual PL inputs (11.2 Mg ha-1) increased P and Zn contents, with changes being similar for CT and NT. After 10 yr, ST nutrient contents in the surface 15 cm reflected 25, 4, 45, 26, 17, and 97% of the input from PL for P, K, Ca, Mg, Mn, and Zn, respectively. Changes in soil profile nutrient content (to a depth of 60 cm) from 1997 to 2005 were predominantly at 0 to 15 cm, where P and Zn increased >200%. Accumulation of Ca, K, P, and Zn at lower depths was also observed. Strategies for increasing nutrient removal following repeated long-term application of PL should be considered to avoid excessive levels of nutrients.
Schomberg, Harry H. , Endale, Dinku M. , Jenkins, Michael B. , Sharpe, Ron R. , Fisher, Dwight S. , Cabrera, Miguel L. , McCracken, Dan V.
Includes references
Soil Science Society of America journal 2009 Jan-Feb, v. 73, no. 1
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
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