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J Environ Qual. 2013 Nov;42(6):1829-37. doi: 10.2134/jeq2012.0384.

Effects of long-term poultry litter application on phosphorus soil chemistry and runoff water quality.


Continuous application of poultry litter (PL) significantly changes many soil properties, including soil test P (STP); Al, Fe, and Ca concentrations; and pH, which can affect the potential for P transport in surface runoff water. We conducted rainfall simulations on three historically acidic silt loam soils in Arkansas, Missouri, and Virginia to establish if long-term PL applications would affect soil inorganic P fractions and the resulting dissolved reactive P (DRP) in runoff water. Soil samples (0-5 cm depth) were taken to find sites ranging in Mehlich-3 STP from 20 to 1154 mg P kg. Simulated rainfall events were conducted on 3-m plots at 6.7 cm h, and runoff was collected for 30 min. Correlation between Mehlich-3 and runoff DRP indicated a linear relationship to 833 mg Mehlich-3 P kg. As Mehlich-3 STP increased, a concomitant increase in soil pH and Ca occurred on all soils. Soil P fractionation demonstrated that, as Mehlich-3 STP generally increased above 450 mg P kg (from high to very high), the easily soluble and loosely bound P fractions decreased by 3 to 10%. Water-insoluble complexes of P bound to Al and Ca were the main drivers in the reduction of DRP in runoff, accounting for up to 43 and 38% of total P, respectively. Basing runoff DRP concentration projections solely on Mehlich-3 STP may overestimate runoff P losses from soils receiving long-term PL applications due to dissolution of water-insoluble Ca-P compounds.


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