Soil Science Society of America

Nutrient dynamics from broiler litter applied to no-till cotton in an upland soil

Applying broiler litter to the soil surface of a no-till field of cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) increases the potential loss of its nutrients via runoff and volatilization. An experiment was conducted over 3 yr on an upland Atwood silt loam soil (fine-silty, mixed, semiactive, thermic Typic Paleudalfs) near Pontotoc, MS, to determine the effect of broiler litter incorporation into the surface soil of no-till cotton on nutrient availability, movement, and accumulation. The experimental design was a randomized complete block with six treatments replicated four times. Treatments were an unfertilized control, inorganic N–P–K fertilizer at the recommended rate, broiler litter at the rate of 5.2 Mg ha–1 plus 34 kg ha–1 supplemental N, and broiler litter at 7.8 Mg ha–1 without supplemental N. A surface incorporated treatment was also included for each litter rate to test for the effects of incorporation. Broiler litter significantly increased soil nutrient concentrations compared to the control. Incorporating litter into the surface soil retained more nutrients in the soil and enhanced C sequestration over nonincorporation, indicating losses of nutrients without incorporation. Application of litter at the higher rate exceeded cotton nutrient utilization as evidenced by increasing soil NO3–N and accumulation of P, K, Cu, and Zn in the top 5 cm of the soil. Incorporating litter increased soil nutrient content higher than nonincorporation. Incorporation of litter into the surface soil of a no-till cotton significantly reduces nutrient losses from the field.

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