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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Impact of Long-Term Land Application of Broiler Litter on Environmentally Related Soil Properties


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 23 No. 1, p. 139-147
    Received: Oct 12, 1992

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. W.L. Kingery *,
  2. C.W. Wood,
  3. D.P. Delaney,
  4. J.C. Williams and
  5. G.L. Mullins
  1. Dep. of Agronomy, Mississippi State Univ., Mississippi State, MS 39762;
    Dep. of Agron. and Soils, 202 Funchess Hall, Auburn Univ., AL 36859-5412;
    Alabama Coop. Ext. Serv., P.O. Box 1904, Decatur, AL 35602;
    2 Comer Hall, Auburn Univ., AL 36849-5402.



The largest portion of Alabama's rapidly growing poultry industry is geographically concentrated in the Sand Mountain region of northern Alabama. The result is that large amounts of waste are applied to relatively small areas of agricultural soils. A study was conducted to determine the effects of long-term broiler waste (litter) application on environmentally related soil conditions in the region. The region has an average annual rainfall of 1325 mm, which is evenly distributed throughout the year, a thermic temperature regime, and soils in the region are of the Ultisol order. In each of four major broiler-producing counties, three pairs of sites consisting of long-term (15–28 yr) littered and nonlittered fields on matching soil series and maintained under perennial tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) were sampled. Soil cores were taken to 3 m or lithic contact and depth-incremented samples (0–15, 15–30, and each subsequent 30-cm interval) were analyzed for organic C, total N, NO3-N, pH, electrical conductivity, and acid-extractable P, K, Ca, Mg, Cu, and Zn. Litter application increased organic C and total N to depths of 15 and 30 cm, respectively, as compared with nonlittered soils, whereas pH was 0.5 units higher to a depth of 60 cm under littered soils. Significant accumulation of NO3-N was found in littered soils to or near bedrock. Extractable P concentrations in littered soils were more than six times greater than in nonlittered soils to a depth of 60 cm. Elevated levels of extractable K, Ca, and Mg to depths greater than 60 cm also were found as a result of long-term litter use. Extractable Cu and Zn had accumulated in littered soils to a depth of 45 cm. These findings indicate that long-term land application of broiler litter, at present rates, has altered soil chemical conditions and has created a potential for adverse environmental impacts in the Sand Mountain region of Alabama.

Contribution of the Dep. of Agron. and Soils, Auburn Univ. and the Alabama Agric. Exp. Stn.

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