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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Field-Scale Nitrogen and Phosphorus Losses from Hayfields Receiving Fresh and Composted Broiler Litter


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 27 No. 5, p. 1246-1254
    Received: July 31, 1997

    * Corresponding author(s): h.vervoort@hetnet.nl
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  1. R. W. Vervoort *,
  2. D. E. Radcliffe,
  3. M. L. Cabrera and
  4. M. Latimore Jr.
  1. Plant Science Dep., Ft. Valley State Univ., Ft. Valley, GA 31030.



Composting broiler litter may increase the amount of stable organic components and reduce contamination of ground- and surface-water with N and P from excessive land applications. Limited research has been done comparing field-scale losses of nutrients from broiler litter applied to hayfields. This project determined field-scale N and P runoff losses from fresh and composted litter applied to hayfields. Two rates of broiler litter, 10 Mg ha−1 yr−1 (1X) and 20 Mg ha−1 yr−1 (2X), and a mix of 10 Mg ha−1 yr−1 of broiler litter and 50 Mg ha−1 yr−1 of composted litter (1X + C), were split-applied in April and September for 2 yr. Surface runoff and subsurface flow were monitored for inorganic and total N and P. Nitrate concentrations in subsurface flow remained below the USEPA standard of 10 mg L−1 for all treatments. Average dissolved reactive P (DRP) concentrations were statistically higher under the 1X + C treatment, followed by the 2X and 1X treatments, reaching a maximum of 8.5 mg L−1 under the 1X + C treatment. Differences between field and plot-scale results were most likely controlled by the timing of application and occurrence of the first rainfall event. Concentrations of resin-extractable P (Pr) in soil increased under all treatments, indicating accumulation of P after only 2.5 yr of application. In this research, the amount of P applied was the principal determinant of the DRP concentration in the surface runoff. Composting broiler litter increased the amount of stable organic components.

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