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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Nitrate and Ammonium Concentrations of Ground Water Resulting from Poultry Manure Applications1


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 8 No. 2, p. 211-215
    Received: May 18, 1978

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  1. William C. Liebhardt2,
  2. Carolyn Golt and
  3. Jane Tupin



Large plots (0.402 ha) of Evesboro loamy sand received 0, 13, 27, 54, and 179 metric tons/ha of poultry manure in the spring of 1972, 1973, 1974, and 1975. Five wells were established in each plot at depths of 3, 4.5, and 6 m below the soil surface. In 1976, wells were established at 3- and 6-m depths in several other locations outside the plots.

Corn (Zea Mays L.) was grown on these plots each year with no other additional fertilizer amendments. Water samples, taken regularly from these plots, showed that the concentration of nitrate at 3 m was affected by the application of poultry manure. At 4.5 and 6.0 m the effect was not nearly as noticeable. There was a pronounced decrease in NO3-N concentration with increasing depth. The NO3-N concentration of water from some wells outside the plot area was quite high compared to the plot receiving no poultry manure, indicating that the source of the NO3-N in these well points was the poultry manure from treated plots. This suggested that the reduction in NO3-N at increasing depths under treated plots was partially a result of the lateral underground movement of nitrates. The concentration of NH4-N in the same water appeared to be only slightly affected, if at all. Application of poultry manure at rates higher than a crop can utilize results in nitrate movement through the soil profile and into the ground water.

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