With poultry production being a major industry in the State of Alabama, a considerable amount of poultry litter has been accumulated as a by-product, and much of it has been applied to nearby agricultural lands. In recent years there has been concern about the effect of this application in terms of the food chain. Tuskegee research has evaluated the trace element contents of poultry litter around the state of Alabama (Kpomblekou-A et al. 2002). Preliminary data showed evidence of trace element accumulation in Alabama topsoil. Trace elements (B, Co, Cu, Cr, Fe, Mn, Mo, and Zn) were shown to increase in a Fuquay soil (loamy, silicious, thermic, Arenic Plinthic Paleudults) when treated with poultry litter for more than 20 years. Similar observations were found in Madison soil (fine loamy, kaolinitic, thermic Typic Hapludults) that received poultry litter for more than 20 years.
On-going studies are being conducted on the chemical composition of poultry litter samples from around the state of Alabama and their nutrient transformations in, and phytoavailability from, several Alabama soils. The study reevaluated methods used to determine total N content of poultry litter and found that the classical Kjeldahl method underestimates total N in poultry litter, because it does not recover quantitatively NO2- and NO3- which represents a significant portion of inorganic N in poultry litter. The research is also focusing on lateral leaching of P in southern Alabama soils (Dotson 2000). The soils have been found to be vulnerable to P leaching through their profiles. Research findings will have direct implications on farmers and emphasize the need for the State to reevaluate poultry litter application rates and screen farmland that can receive poultry litter.
GRADUATE STUDENT RESEARCH (ABSTRACTS)