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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 40 No. 2, p. 412-420
    Received: Apr 8, 2010

    * Corresponding author(s): lckibet@umes.edu
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Phosphorus Runoff Losses from Subsurface-Applied Poultry Litter on Coastal Plain Soils

  1. Leonard C. Kibet *a,
  2. Arthur L. Allena,
  3. Peter J. A. Kleinmanb,
  4. Gary W. Feyereisenc,
  5. Clinton Churchb,
  6. Lou S. Saporitob and
  7. Thomas R. Wayd
  1. a Dep. of Agriculture, Food, and Resource Sciences, Univ. of Maryland Eastern Shore, Princess Anne, MD 21853
    b USDA–ARS, Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit, University Park, PA 16802
    c USDA–ARS, Soil and Water Mgt. Research Unit, St. Paul, MN 55108
    d T.R. Way, USDA–ARS, National Soil Dynamics Lab., Auburn, AL 36832. Assigned to Associate Editor Gurpal Toor


The application of poultry litter to soils is a water quality concern on the Delmarva Peninsula, as runoff contributes P to the eutrophic Chesapeake Bay. This study compared a new subsurface applicator for poultry litter with conventional surface application and tillage incorporation of litter on a Coastal Plain soil under no-till management. Monolith lysimeters (61 cm by 61 cm by 61 cm) were collected immediately after litter application and subjected to rainfall simulation (61 mm h−1, 1 h) 15 and 42 d later. In the first rainfall event, subsurface application of litter significantly lowered total P losses in runoff (1.90 kg ha−1) compared with surface application (4.78 kg ha−1). Losses of P with subsurface application were not significantly different from disked litter or an unamended control. By the second event, total P losses did not differ significantly between surface and subsurface litter treatments but were at least twofold greater than losses from the disked and control treatments. A rising water table in the second event likely mobilized dissolved forms of P in subsurface-applied litter to the soil surface, enriching runoff water with P. Across both events, subsurface application of litter did not significantly decrease cumulative losses of P relative to surface-applied litter, whereas disking the litter into the soil did. Results confirm the short-term reduction of runoff P losses with subsurface litter application observed elsewhere but highlight the modifying effect of soil hydrology on this technology's ability to minimize P loss in runoff.

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