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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Waste Management

Long-Term Effects of Poultry Litter, Alum-Treated Litter, and Ammonium Nitrate on Phosphorus Availability in Soils


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 36 No. 1, p. 163-174
    Received: Jan 5, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): philipm@uark.edu
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  1. P. A. Moore *a and
  2. D. R. Edwardsb
  1. a USDA-ARS, Plant Sciences 115, Univ. of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701
    b Dep. of Agric. Eng., 128 Agric. Eng. Bldg., Univ. of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546-0276


Alum (Al2(SO4)3·14H2O) additions to poultry litter result in lower ammonia (NH3) volatilization and phosphorus (P) runoff; however, the long-term effects of alum on soil P behavior have been unknown. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the long-term effects of poultry litter, alum-treated litter, and ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3) on P availability in soils and P runoff. Two studies were initiated in 1995: a small plot (1.5 × 3.0 m) study and a paired watershed (0.405 ha) study. In the small plot study 13 treatments (control, four rates of normal litter, four rates of alum-treated litter, and four rates of NH4NO3) were applied to tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) plots. Results show that after 7 yr water-extractable P (WEP) in surface soil samples was greater with normal litter, but Mehlich III P was greater in surface soils fertilized with alum-treated litter. When soil samples were taken at depth intervals to 50 cm in Year 7, Mehlich III P was only greater in the surface 5 cm for soils fertilized with alum-treated litter. At lower depths Mehlich III P was greater with normal litter, and WEP was up to 288% greater when normal litter was used, indicating that alum significantly reduced P leaching. Uptake of P by fescue was not affected by alum. Results from the paired watershed study showed P loss in runoff was 340% greater for normal litter than for alum-treated litter. This research, combined with earlier work that shows alum use improves air and soil quality, supports the use of alum as a long-term solution to reducing P runoff and leaching.

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