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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Waste Management

Effect of Chemical and Microbial Amendment on Phosphorus Runoff from Composted Poultry Litter


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 35 No. 4, p. 1291-1296
    Received: Oct 17, 2005

    * Corresponding author(s): pdelaun@uark.edu
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  1. P. B. DeLaune *a,
  2. P. A. Mooreb and
  3. J. L. Lemunyonc
  1. a Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701
    b USDA-ARS, Fayetteville, AR 72701
    c USDA-NRCS, Fort Worth, TX 76115


Environmental impacts of composting poultry litter with chemical amendments at the field scale have not been well quantified. The objectives of this study were to measure (i) P runoff and (ii) forage yield and N uptake from small plots fertilized with composted and fresh poultry litter. Two composting studies, aerated using mechanical turning, were conducted in consecutive years. Composted litter was collected at the completion of each study for use in runoff studies. Treatments in runoff studies included an unfertilized control, fresh (uncomposted) poultry litter, and litter composted with no amendment, H3PO4, alum, or a microbial mixture. An additional treatment, litter composted with alum plus the microbial mixture, was evaluated during the first year. Fertilizer treatments were applied at rates equivalent to 8.96 Mg ha−1 and rainfall simulators were used to produce a 5 cm h−1 storm event. Composted poultry litter, regardless of treatment, had higher total P concentrations than fresh poultry litter. Composting poultry litter resulted in reductions of N/P ratios by as much as 51%. Soluble reactive P concentrations were lowest in alum-treated compost, which reduced soluble P concentrations in runoff water by as much as 84%. Forage yields and N uptake were greatest from plots fertilized with fresh poultry litter. Composting poultry litter without the addition of C sources can increase P concentrations in the end product and surface runoff. This study also indicated that increased rates of composted poultry litter would be required to meet equivalent N rates supplied by fresh poultry litter.

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