Restoration of Productivity to a Desurfaced Soil with Livestock Manure, Crop Residue, and Fertilizer Amendments
- Francis J. Larney and
- H. Henry Janzen
Many agricultural fields on the semiarid Canadian prairies have areas of inherently low productivity associated with loss of soil quality due to erosion. This study compared the efficacy of various amendments in restoring productivity to a desurfaced fine-loamy, mixed Typic Haploboroll (Lethbridge series) in southern Alberta. In spring 1992, 14 amendment treatments (including livestock manures, crop residues, combinations of straw and chemical fertilizer, and fertilizer alone) were applied to a site where the Ap horizon (≈ 15-cm depth) had been mechanically removed to simulate erosion. The manures and crop materials were incorporated into the degraded surface on an equivalent dry-weight basis at 20 Mg ha−1. The plots were seeded to spring wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) in 1992, 1993, and 1994. The overall best amendments were hog manure, poultry manure, and alfalfa hay. In all years, yields from desurfaced plots amended with hog or poultry manure were not significantly different from plots with no topsoil removal. Nitrate-N concentration in the 0- to 60-cm soil depth explained 71% of the variation in restorative ability of the amendments, while extractable P concentrations in the 0- to 15-cm depth explained 16% of this variation. Results demonstrate that livestock manures and crop residues can restore productivity to eroded soils by substituting for lost topsoil. Application of high rates of manure to severely eroded soils offers a means of utilizing the large amounts of manure generated by southern Alberta feedlot operations.
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