Using Hairy Vetch to Manage Soil Phosphorus Accumulation from Poultry Litter Applications in a Warm-season Vegetable Rotation

in HortScience

Hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth) cover crops were grown in a rotation with sweet corn (Zea mays var. rugosa Bonaf.) and muskmelon (Cucumis melo L. Reticulatus group) to evaluate the legume's ability to remove excess P from soils when poultry litter was used as a fertilizer. Fertilizer treatments were: 1) litter to meet each crop's recommended preplant N requirements (1×); 2) litter at twice the recommended rate (2×); and 3) urea at the 1× rate as the control. Following the vegetable crops, hairy vetch was planted on half of each replication, while the other half was fallowed. The vetch was removed from the field in a simulated haying operation in the spring. Soil samples were taken at 0-15 cm and 15-30 cm depths at the onset of the study and after each crop to monitor plant nutrient concentrations. The vetch sometimes raised soil test N concentrations at the 0-15 cm depth. Soil test P concentrations at the 0-15 cm sampling depth in the vetch system were consistently lower numerically, but not statistically, relative to comparable plots in the fallow system. Soil test P at the 0-15 cm depth was usually increased by litter at the 2× rate relative to the urea control, regardless of cropping system. Yields of both vegetable crops were similar among all cover crop and fertilizer treatments.

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