Assessment of the Effects of Poultry Litter on Surface Runoff Water Quality from Agricultural Lands
Sudarshan K. Dutta, Shreeram P. Inamdar, J. Tom Sims, Alyssa Collins
DOI: 10.4236/jwarp.2010.25048   PDF    HTML     4,604 Downloads   9,591 Views   Citations


The use of pelletized poultry litter (PPL) as a substitute for inorganic fertilizers is increasingly being en-couraged in states like Delaware which have a considerable surplus of poultry litter. However, we know very little about the impacts of PPL on runoff water quality and whether it is an environmentally-sound and sus-tainable alternative to inorganic fertilizer. To address these questions we compared the exports of nutrients (NH4-N, NO3-N and PO4-P) and trace elements (As, Cu, and Zn) in surface runoff from agricultural plots receiving PPL, raw poultry litter (RPL), urea and no-fertilizer (control) treatments. The study was conducted on agricultural land located in Middletown, Delaware with corn as the cover crop. The experimental plots were 5 m wide and 12 m long with reduced tillage and no-tillage management practices. Sampling was con-ducted for six natural rainfall events from April through August 2008. Nutrient (NH4-N, NO3-N and PO4-P) exports from plots receiving PPL were less than those with urea or raw litter applications. While exports of trace elements from the PPL treatment exceeded those from urea, they were much lower than the corre-sponding exports from the RPL treatments. Mass exports of nutrients and trace elements were correlated with event size (rainfall amount) but were not correlated with timing of event (days since litter application). Results from this study suggest that the use of PPL in combination with no-tillage may provide an environ-mentally safe alternative to synthetic fertilizers.

Share and Cite:

S. Dutta, S. Inamdar, J. Sims and A. Collins, "Assessment of the Effects of Poultry Litter on Surface Runoff Water Quality from Agricultural Lands," Journal of Water Resource and Protection, Vol. 2 No. 5, 2010, pp. 413-423. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2010.25048.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] M. E. Lόpez-Mosquera, F. Cabaleiro, M. J. Sainz, A. Lόpez-Fabal and E. Carral, “Fertilizing Value of Broiler Litter: Effects of Drying and Pelletizing,” Bioresource Technology, Vol. 99, No. 13, September 2008, pp. 5626- 5633.
[2] J. T. Sims and D. C. Wolf, “Poultry Waste Management: Agricultural and Environmental Issues,” Advances in Agronomy, Vol. 52, 1994, pp. 1-82.
[3] D. R. Edwards and T. C. Daniel, “Effects of Poultry Lit-ter Application Rate and Rainfall Intensity on Quality of Runoff from Fescuegrass Plots,” Journal of Environ-mental Quality, Vol. 22, No. 2, April 1993, pp. 361-365.
[4] B. E. Haggard, P. B. DeLaune, D. R. Smith and P. A. Moore, “Nutrient and β17-Estradiol Loss in Runoff Wa-ter from Poultry Litters,” Journal of the American Water Resources Association, Vol. 41, No. 2, April 2005, pp. 245-256.
[5] D. J. Nichols, T. C. Daniel and D. R. Edwards, “Nutrient Runoff from Pasture after Incorporation of Poultry Litter or Inorganic Fertilizer,” Soil Science Society of America Journal, Vol. 58, No. 4, July 1994, pp. 1224-1228.
[6] S. T. Pierson, M. L. Cabrera, G. K. Evanylo, H. A. Kuykendall, C. S. Hoveland, M. A. McCann and L. T. West, “Phosphorus and Ammonium Concentrations in Surface Runoff from Grasslands Fertilized with Broiler Litter,” Journal of Environmental Quality, Vol. 30, No. 5, September 2001, pp. 1784-1789.
[7] T. J. Sauer, T. C. Daniel, P. A. Moore, K. P. Coffey, D. J. Nichols and C. P. West, “Poultry Litter and Grazing Ani-mal Waste Effects on Runoff Water Quality,” Journal of Environmental Quality, Vol. 28, No. 3, May 1999, pp. 860-865.
[8] United States Department of Agriculture, Official Soil Series Description, Washington, D.C., 2004. http://ortho.
[9] United States Department of Agriculture Soil Conserva-tion Service and Delaware Agricultural Experiment Sta-tion, “Soil Survey, New Castle County, Delaware,” Oc-tober 1970, pp. 92-94.
[10] Delaware Environmental Observing System, “Current Conditions Data Retrieval: Townsend 2008,” 2008.
[11] United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Con-sumer Factsheet on: Nitrates/Nitrites,” Washington, D.C., 1992.
[12] North Carolina State University Water Quality Group, “Phosphorous,” 2003. shedss/info/phos.html
[13] United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Arse-nic in Drinking Water: Basic information,” Washington, D.C., 1992. information.html
[14] United States Environmental Protection Agency, “Sec-ondary Drinking Water Regulations: Guidance for Nui-sance Chemicals,” Washington, D.C., 1992. http://www.
[15] D. H. Franklin, M. L. Cabrera and V. H. Calvert, “Fertil-izer Source and Soil Aeration Effects on Runoff Volume and Quality,” Soil Science Society of America Journal, Vol. 70, No. 1, January 2006, pp. 84-89.
[16] F. C. Thornton, N. J. Surpali, B. R. Bock and K. C. Reddy, “N2O and NO Emissions from Poultry Litter and Urea Applications to Bermuda Grass,” Atmospheric En-vironment, Vol. 32, No. 9, May 1998, pp. 1623-1630.
[17] C. M. Hamilton and J. T. Sims, “Nitrogen and Phospho-rous Availability in Enriched, Palletized Poultry Litters,” Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, Vol. 5, No. 3, June 1995, pp. 115-132.
[18] D. R. Smith, P. R. Owens, A. B. Leytem and E. A. Warnemuende, “Nutrient Losses from Manure and Fer-tilizer Applications as Impacted by Time to First Runoff Event,” Environmental Pollution, Vol. 147, No. 1, May 2007, pp. 131-137.
[19] E. H. Brock, Q. M. Ketterings and M. McBride, “Copper and Zinc Accumulation in Poultry and Dairy Ma-nure-Amended Soil,” Soil Science, Vol. 171, No. 5, May 2006, pp. 388-399.
[20] R. Lal. “No-tillage Effects on Soil Properties under Dif-ferent Crops in Western Nigeria,” Soil Science Society of America Journal, Vol. 40, No. 5, September 1976, pp. 762-768.
[21] A. K. Seta, R. L. Belvins, W. W. Frye and B. J. Barfield, “Reducing Soil Erosion and Agricultural Chemical Losses with Conservation Tillage,” Journal of Environ-mental Quality, Vol. 22, No. 4, October 1993, pp. 661- 665.
[22] A. Adeli, K. R. Sistani, H. Tewolde and D. E. Rowe, “Broiler Litter Application Effects on Selected Trace Elements under Conventional and No-till Systems,” Soil Science, Vol. 172, No. 5, May 2007, pp. 349-365.
[23] E. E. Codling, R. L. Chaney and C. L. Mulchi, “Effects of Broiler Litter Management Practices on Phosphorus, Copper, Zinc, Manganese and Arsenic Concentrations in Maryland Coastal Plain Soils,” Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis, Vol. 39, No. 7-8, April 2008, pp. 1193-1205.
[24] W. L. Kingery, C. W. Wood, D. P. Delaney, J. C. Wil-liams and G. L. Mullins, “Impact of Long-Term Land Application of Broiler Litter on Environmentally Related Soil Properties,” Journal of Environmental Quality, Vol. 23, No. 1, January 1994, pp. 139-147.
[25] N. S. Bolan, D. C. Adriano and S. Mahimairaja, “Distri-bution and Bioavailability of Trace Elements in Livestock and Poultry Manure By-Products,” Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, Vol. 34, No. 3, May 2004, pp. 291-338.
[26] P. A. Moore, T. C. Daniel, J. T. Gilmour, B. R. Shreve, D. R. Edwards and B. H. Wood, “Decreasing Metal Runoff from Poultry Litter with Aluminum Sulfate,” Journal of Environmental Quality, Vol. 27, No. 1, January 1998. pp. 92-99.
[27] A. N. Sharpley, “Rainfall Frequency and Nitrogen and Phosphorous Runoff from Soils Amended with Poultry Litter,” Journal of Environmental Quality, Vol. 26, No. 4, July 1997, pp. 1127-1132.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.