Alum Treatment of Poultry Litter: Decomposition and Nitrogen Dynamics

Alum Treatment of Poultry Litter: Decomposition and Nitrogen Dynamics,J. T. Gilmour,M. A. Koehler,M. L. Cabrera,L. Szajdak,P. A. Moore

Alum Treatment of Poultry Litter: Decomposition and Nitrogen Dynamics   (Citations: 8)
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soluble reactive and particulate phosphorus concentra- tions in surface waters through runoff and erosion. Phos- While the poultry industry is a major economic benefit to several phorus contamination does not pose a direct health haz- areas in the USA, land application of poultry litter to recycle nutrients ard, but instead degrades water quality by contributing can lead to impaired surface and ground water quality. Amending inorganic P to surface water leading to eutrophication. poultry litter with alum (Al3(SO4)2·14H2O) has received considerable attention as a method of economically reducing ammonia volatiliza- Phosphorus is generally seen as the limiting nutrient in tion in the poultry house and soluble phosphorus in runoff waters. this process, and litter often contains greater than 2000 The objective of this study was to characterize the effect of alum mg kg 1 water-soluble P (Moore and Miller, 1994). on broiler litter decomposition and N dynamics under laboratory Because soluble P in litter poses a significant threat conditions. Litter that had been amended with alum in the poultry to water quality in areas with intensive poultry produc- house after each of the first four of five flock cycles (Experiment I) tion, the conversion of this P to less soluble forms has and litter that had been amended with alum after removal from a received increasing attention. One method that has poultry house after the third flock cycle (Experiment II) were com- come to the forefront is the addition of alum to bedding pared with unamended litter in separate studies. The litters in Experi- material or litter before birds are grown on the litter. ment I were surface-applied to simulate application to grasslands, Alum not only lowers levels of available P by precipita- while the litters in Experiment II were incorporated to simulate appli- cation to conventionally tilled crops. The only statistically significant tion with aluminum, but reduces NH3 volatilization in differences in decomposition due to alum occurred early in Experi- poultry houses and runoff losses of soluble organic C ment II and the differences were small. The only statistically significant as well (Moore and Miller, 1994). The reduction in NH3 differences in net N mineralization, soil inorganic N, and soil NH 4 -N levels has the twofold effect of improving bird health in either experiment was found in Experiment I after 70 d of incubation and raising the fertilizer value of the litter (Moore and where soil inorganic N was significantly greater for the alum treatment. Miller, 1994; Sims and Luka-McCafferty, 2002). With Thus, alum had little effect on decomposition or N dynamics. Results these benefits to growers and water quality, alum use of many of the studies on litter not amended with alum should be represents an environmentally and economically attrac- applicable to litters amended with alum to reduce P availability. tive method for controlling nutrient losses from land- applied poultry litter. The objective of this study was to characterize the
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