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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 34 No. 1, p. 382-389
    Received: Mar 4, 2004

    * Corresponding author(s): s.hunger@earth.leeds.ac.uk
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How Accurate Is the Assessment of Phosphorus Pools in Poultry Litter by Sequential Extraction?

  1. Stefan Hunger *a,
  2. J. Thomas Simsb and
  3. Donald L. Sparksb
  1. a Department of Earth Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, United Kingdom
    b Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, University of Delaware, 152 Townsend Hall, Newark, DE 19711


Amending poultry litter with Al sulfate (alum) has proven effective in reducing water-soluble P in the litter and in runoff from fields that have received litter applications. Although its effectiveness has been demonstrated on a macroscopic scale in the field or in the poultry houses, little is known about P speciation in either alum-amended or unamended litter. This knowledge is important for the evaluation of long-term stability and bioavailability of P, which is a necessary prerequisite for the assessment of the sustainability of intensive poultry operations. Here we report results from an investigation of alum-amended poultry litter (PL) that combined a chemical extraction sequence with solid-state 31P nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopic analysis of the residues. Aluminum is predominantly found in the fine size separate (<125 μm), indicating that the alum added to the poultry houses hydrolyzed without being completely dispersed in the litter. The NMR spectra confirmed the hypothesis that calcium phosphate phases are only dissolved during extraction with dilute acid and phosphate associated with Al is mainly dissolved during extraction with NaOH. Extraction of phosphate associated with Al was incomplete, however, as evidenced by 31P NMR spectroscopy. It could also be demonstrated that the extraction sequence overestimates the calcium phosphate fraction by an order of magnitude in this particular sample. Results from sequential chemical extraction should therefore be used with caution when assessing the magnitude of different phosphate pools in poultry litter.

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