With the rapid growth of the poultry industry in Oklahoma, U.S.A., more litter is applied to farm land. Thus, information is required on the impact of applications on regional soil and water resources. The effect of soil and poultry litter management on nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) loss in runoff and subsurface flow from four 16 m2 plots (Ruston fine sandy loam, 6 to 8% slope) was investigated under natural rainfall. Plots under Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon) received 11 Mg litter ha−1, which amounts to contributions of approximately 410 kg N and 140 kg P ha−1 yr−1. In spring, litter was broadcast on 3 of the plots; the upper half of one and total area of the other two. One of the total-area broadcast plots was tilled to 6 cm, the other remained as no till. The fourth plot served as a control. Relative to the control, litter application increased mean concentrations of total N and total P in runoff during the 16-week study for no-till (15.4 and 5.8 mg L−1) and tilled treatments (16.7 and 6.1 mg L−1). However, values for the half-area application (5.6 and 2.0 mg L−1) were similar to the control (5.7 and 1.3 mg L−1). Interflow (subsurface lateral flow at 70 cm depth) P was not affected by litter application; however, nitrate-N concentrations increased from 0.6 (control) to 2.9 mg L−1 (no till). In all cases, < 2 % litter N and P was lost in runoff and interflow, maintaining acceptable water quality concentrations. Although litter increased grass yield (8518 kg ha−1) compared to the control (3501 kg ha−1), yields were not affected by litter management. An 8-fold increase in the plant available P content of surface soil indicates long-term litter management and application rates will be critical to the environmentally sound use of this nutrient resource.
Animal manure eutrophication ground water nitrogen phosphorus surface runoff