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Phosphorus leaching from soil cores from a twenty-year study evaluating alum treatment of poultry litter

Anderson, K.R., Moore, P.A., Miller, D.M., DeLaune, P.B., Edwards, D.R., Kleinman, P.J.A., Cade-Menun, B.J. (2018). Phosphorus leaching from soil cores from a twenty-year study evaluating alum treatment of poultry litter, 47(3), 530-537.


© American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. Adding alum to poultry litter is a best management practice used to stabilize P in less soluble forms, reducing nonpoint-source P runoff. However, little research has been conducted on how alum additions to litter affect subsequent leaching of P from soil. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of alum-treated versus untreated poultry litter on P leaching from soil cores receiving long-term poultry litter applications. Two intact soil cores were taken from each of 52 plots in a long-term study with 13 treatments: a control, four rates each of untreated and alum-treated litter (2.24, 4.49, 6.72, and 8.96 Mg ha-1), and four rates of ammonium nitrate (65, 130, 195, and 260 kg N ha-1). One core from each plot received the same fertilizer as for the previous 20 yr, whereas the other was unfertilized in the study year, resulting in a total of 25 treatments. Cores were exposed to natural rainfall, and P leaching was measured for 1 yr. The average soluble reactive P concentrations in the leachate varied from 0.16 to 0.44 mg P L-1 in fertilized alum-treated cores, whereas leachate from cores fertilized with untreated litter ranged from 0.40 to 2.64 mg P L-1. At the highest litter rate (8.96 Mg ha-1), alum reduced total dissolved P and total P concentrations in leachate by 83 and 80%, respectively, compared with untreated litter. These results indicate that alum additions to poultry litter significantly reduced soluble and total P fractions in leachate.

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