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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 33 No. 4, p. 1183-1188
    Received: Feb 25, 2003

    * Corresponding author(s): rsharpe@uga.edu


Ammonia Volatilization from Surface-Applied Poultry Litter under Conservation Tillage Management Practices

  1. R. R. Sharpe *,
  2. H. H. Schomberg,
  3. L. A. Harper,
  4. D. M. Endale,
  5. M. B. Jenkins and
  6. A. J. Franzluebbers
  1. Southern Piedmont Conservation Research Unit, USDA-ARS, 1420 Experiment Station Road, Watkinsville, GA 30677


Land application of poultry litter can provide essential plant nutrients for crop production, but ammonia (NH3) volatilization from the litter can be detrimental to the environment. A multiseason study was conducted to quantify NH3 volatilization rates from surface-applied poultry litter under no-till and paraplowed conservation tillage managements. Litter was applied to supply 90 to 140 kg N ha−1 Evaluation of NH3 volatilization was determined using gas concentrations and the flux-gradient gas transport technique using the momentum balance transport coefficient. Ammonia fluxes ranged from 3.3 to 24% of the total N applied during the winter and summer, respectively. Ammonia volatilization was rapid immediately after litter application and stopped within 7 to 8 d. Precipitation of 17 mm essentially halted volatilization, probably by transporting litter N into the soil matrix. Application of poultry to conservation-tilled cropland immediately before rainfall events would reduce N losses to the atmosphere but could also increase NO3 leaching and runoff to streams and rivers.

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