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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Surface Water Quality

Poultry Litter Ash as a Potential Phosphorus Source for Agricultural Crops


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 31 No. 3, p. 954-961
    Received: June 25, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): codlinge@ba.ars.usda.gov
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  1. Eton E. Codling *,
  2. Rufus L. Chaney and
  3. John Sherwell
  1. Maryland Dep. of Natural Resources, Tawes State Office Building, B-3, Annapolis, MD 21401


Maryland will impose restrictions on poultry litter application to soils with excessive P by the year 2005. Alternative uses for poultry litter are being considered, including burning as a fuel to generate electricity. The resulting ash contains high levels of total P, but the availability for crop uptake has not been reported. Our objective was to compare the effectiveness of poultry litter ash (PLA) and potassium phosphate (KP) as a P source for wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) in acidic soils, without and with limestone application. Two acidic soils (pH 4.25 and 4.48) were studied, unlimed or limed to pH 6.5 before cropping. The PLA and KP were applied at 0, 39, and 78 kg P ha−1, after which wheat was grown. Limestone significantly increased wheat yield, but the P sources without limestone did not. The two P sources were not significantly different as P fertilizer. At the 78 kg P ha−1 rate, wheat shoot–P concentrations were 1.10 and 1.12 g kg−1 for the PLA treatment compared with 0.90 and 0.89 g kg−1 for KP in the nonlimed and limed soils, respectively. Trace element concentrations in wheat shoots from the PLA treatment were less than or equal to KP and the control. The low levels of water-soluble P and metals in the soils and the low metal concentrations in wheat suggest that PLA is an effective P fertilizer. Further studies are needed to determine the optimum application rate of PLA as a P fertilizer.

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Copyright © 2002. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.31:954–961.