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  • Author or Editor: P.L. Preusch x
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Improper management of poultry manure and bedding (litter) can cause hypoxia in aquatic communities, but poultry waste can be converted to a stable organic fertilizer by composting. Peach trees (Prunus persica L. `Sunhigh') received the following treatments in May 1998: commercial fertilizer (15 g N/m2), low-rate composted poultry litter (15 g N/m2 as 2.9 kg composted litter/m2), high-rate composted poultry litter (62 g N/m2 as 11.6 kg composted litter/m2), and no treatment control. Weeds were completely controlled during 1998, but, by Sept. 1999, the high-rate poultry litter had only 27% weed cover compared with 86% for the commercial fertilizer-treated plots. Soil N was highest in plots treated with commercial fertilizer (16.4 mg N-NH4 and 18.6 mg N-NO3 per kg soil, 6 weeks after treatment) and did not differ among the remaining treatments (in the high rate of poultry litter—3.2 mg N-NH4 and 0.7 mg N-NO3 per kg soil, 6 weeks after treatment). Water soluble P in the soil did not differ among treatments at 6 weeks after treatment (≈12 mg P per kg soil for all treatments) but, at 47 weeks after treatment, plots with the high rate of poultry litter had 30 mg P per kg soil compared with 14 mg P per kg soil in plots treated with commercial fertilizer. In general, Mehlich 1 acid-soluble P did not differ among the litter- and fertilizer-treated plots (averaging 45 mg P per kg soil). Acid-soluble P was lowest in control plots (averaging 21 mg P per kg soil). Results indicate that poultry litter could be used as a weed suppressant without adversely affecting nitrogen release to the environment. However, P mineralization may be problematic and requires further investigation.

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Composted poultry litter (CPL) may be applied as a mulch in fruit orchards to manage waste and to provide a slow-release nutrient source and weed control. With proper management, poultry manure and bedding (litter) can prevent environmental degradation, such as hypoxia in aquatic communities. Peach (Prunus persica L. `Sunhigh') plots all received preemergence herbicides in May and then the following treatments in June 1998: commercial fertilizer (N at 15 g·m-2), low rate CPL (N at 15 g·m-2 as CPL at 2.9 kg·m-2), high rate CPL (N at 62 g·m-2 as CPL at 11.6 kg·m-2), and no fertilizer or mulch control. Weeds were completely controlled by mulch and herbicide during 1998 but not during 1999. By Sept. 1999, the high rate of CPL had only 27% weed cover compared with 86% for the commercial fertilizer-treated plots. Soil N was highest (NH4-N and NO3-N at 16.4 and 18.6 mg·kg-1 soil, respectively) in plots treated with commercial fertilizer, 6 weeks after treatment (WAT). Soil N did not differ among the two CPL treatments and the control at any time. At the high rate of CPL, there was NH4-N and NO3-N at 3.2 and 0.7 mg·kg-1 soil, respectively, at 6 WAT. Water-extractable P (WEP) in the soil did not differ among the CPL and commercial fertilizer treatments at 6 WAT (P at §14 mg·kg-1 soil). However, at 47 WAT, plots with the high rate of CPL had significantly higher WEP, with P at 30 mg·kg-1 soil vs. 14 mg·kg-1 soil in plots treated with commercial fertilizer. High applications of CPL could elevate P in surface runoff to levels that cause environmental degradation. In general, Mehlich 1-extractable P (MEP) did not differ among the CPL- and fertilizer-treated plots (averaging P at 45 mg·kg-1 soil). MEP was lowest in control plots (averaging P at 21 mg·kg-1 soil). Results indicate that CPL could be used as a weed suppressant without adversely affecting N release to the environment; however, P concentration in soil water may be problematic.

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