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«A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences ...»

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ENVIRONMENTAL AND AGRONOMIC EVALUATION OF VALUE-ADDED

NITROGEN FORTIFIED POULTRY LITTER AND BIOSOLIDS FERTILIZERS

ENVIRONMENTAL AND AGRONOMIC EVALUATION OF VALUE-ADDED

NITROGEN FORTIFIED POULTRY LITTER AND BIOSOLIDS FERTILIZERS

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment

of the requirements for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy in Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences By Mark Stephen Reiter Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Bachelor of Science in Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, 2001 Auburn University Masters of Science in Agronomy and Soils, 2003 May 2008 University of Arkansas UMI Number: 3317833

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ABSTRACT

Phosphorus and N fertilization from poultry litter (PL) can cause water quality concerns, and can be especially troublesome in regions with high concentrations of poultry production. We investigated soil P loss in runoff water after long-term poultry litter (PL) applications and the associated soil P partitioning effects. To synergize PL movement out of sensitive watersheds, we transformed fresh PL into urea fortified granulated PL fertilizers with and without biosolids (BS) (PLUB and PLU, respectively), with and without a nitrification inhibitor [dicyandiamide (DCD)], and with different binding agents (lignosulfonate, urea formaldehyde or water). Nitrogen-fortified PL and BS fertilizers were compared to organic and inorganic fertilizer sources in regards to physical characteristics, nutrient runoff, and as an agronomic fertilizer. Soil P fractionation, granule crush and attrition tests, rainfall simulations, incubation, and field tests were used to test various dissertation objectives. Regarding soil-P partitioning, soil P associated with Al, reductant soluble and Ca were primarily responsible for reducing dissolved reactive P (DRP) concentrations in runoff water. Attrition and crush tests found that granular PL and BS fertilizers were physically similar to inorganic fertilizer granules currently used, such as urea and triple superphosphate, while increasing PL bulk density.

Runoff simulations indicated that BS additions decreased total P and DRP losses by 50% compared to PL granules. All organic fertilizer sources had less total-P loss than triple superphosphate (24.7%). An incubation study found that limited DCD-N was mineralized during a growing season and DCD inhibited significant denitrification for 56 d. Binding agents did not have any significant effect on nutrient loss in runoff or N availability during the water quality and incubation studies. In a rice field study, 17, 23, 53 and 89% of fertilizer N was assimilated by rice plants and 14,17, 29, and 47 kg rice grain was produced per kg N applied for PL, PLU, PLUDCD and preflood urea, respectively.

Overall, N fortified granular PL and BS fertilizers have favorable granule characteristics, comparable or less nutrient losses versus inorganic fertilizers, and decrease nitrification if DCD is added, but are relatively inefficient applied pre-plant incorporated to delayed

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I would like to express my gratitude to my dissertation director, Tommy C.

Daniel, Ph.D., for his guidance, encouragement and friendship over the past four years. I also thank members of my graduate committee who supervised these projects and offered assistance when necessary; Mark J. Cochran, Ph.D., Findlay G. Edwards, Ph.D., Richard J. Norman, Ph.D., and Nathan A. Slaton, Ph.D. Thanks are given to the staffs of Pine Tree Branch Station near Colt, Arkansas; Lon Mann Cotton Research Station in Marianna, Arkansas; and the Rice Fertility Research Group stationed at the Rice Research and Extension Center near Stuttgart, Arkansas. Thanks are also due to my grandparents George J. Reiter Sr. (in memory), Adele H. Reiter (in memory), Frank I.

Michalek Sr., and Helen G. Michalek; parents George J. Reiter Jr. and Virginia M.

Reiter; brothers J. Scott Reiter, M.S., Michael A. Reiter, and Brian P. Reiter; Sister-inlaws Naomi A. Reiter, B.S. and Christie T. Reiter, R.N.; and an ever growing number of nieces and nephews; all who gave encouragement throughout these projects, during preparation of this dissertation, and while I have been away from home. Thanks are also given to numerous friends and fellow graduate students for their camaraderie, which helped make our stay in Fayetteville, Arkansas more entertaining and enjoyable. Most importantly, special thanks are expressed to my wife, Sara T. Reiter, M.S., for her endearing support, encouragement and love. I could always depend on her to be there for me, and cannot express my thanks enough...





–  –  –

I dedicate this dissertation to my wife, Sara T. Reiter, M.S., for her continuing encouragement, support, and understanding during my graduate school program. With her, I share this degree.

–  –  –

3.3. Total and percentage of P available as a function of inorganic soil fractions ranging from low to very high Mehlich-3 extractable soil test P (STP) in Arkansas, Virginia and Missouri silt loam soils, respectively 56

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4.2a. Composition of unprocessed dry ingredients and binding agents used to make N-fortified poultry litter and biosolids granular fertilizers 83

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4.6. Maximum force required to crush granules for N-fortified poultry litter and biosolids granular fertilizers in a biosolids x binding agent interaction 88

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4.8. Total P (TP) present as dissolved reactive P (DRP) during a water shake study for N-fortified poultry litter and biosolids granular fertilizers in a biosolids x binding agent interaction, averaged over dicyandiamide treatments 90

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5.4. Dissolved reactive P (DRP) as a percentage of TP loads for applications of Nfortified poultry litter and biosolids granular fertilizers on a bermudagrass golf fairway in a biosolids x dicyandiamide (DCD) x binding agent interaction 118

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5.8. Dissolved solids as a percentage of total solids and percentage of total solids lost from applications of N-fortified poultry litter and biosolids granular fertilizers on a bermudagrass golf fairway in a biosolids main effect, averaged over dicyandiamide and binding agent treatments 122

5.9. Runoff water pH and electrical conductivity after applications of N-fortified poultry litter and biosolids granular fertilizers, commercial fertilizers and organic fertilizers on a bermudagrass golf fairway 123

6.1. Ammonium-N, NO3-N, total N, total C, and the C:N ratio for the soil background, N-fortified poultry litter and biosolids granular fertilizers, organic, and inorganic fertilizers used in a 112 day incubation study 139

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7.6. Soil total N, total C, C:N ratio, and NH4-N concentrations after fertilization with poultry litter, N-fortified poultry litter fertilizers with and without dicyandiamide (DCD), and preflood urea on Dewitt silt loam 168

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3.1. Correlation of runoff dissolved reactive P (DRP) as a function of Mehlich-3 and water extractable soil test P concentrations for Captina, Frederick and Hoberg silt loam soils. Arrows represent critical points where DRP plateaus or declines as Mehlich-3 and water extractable P continued to increase 57

3.2. Relationship between Mehlich-3 extractable soil test P concentrations and percentage of Mehlich-3 extractable P as water extractable P (water extractable P + Mehlich-3 P x 100) for silt loam soils. Arrows represent asymptotes of Mehlich-3 P and runoff dissolved reactive P relationships from Fig. 3.1. The/? and r2 values were derived from linear regression by taking the natural log of both axis 58

3.3. Correlation of soil pH and Mehlich-3 extractable Ca to Mehlich-3 extractable soil test P concentrations for Captina, Frederick and Hoberg silt loam soils.

Arrows represent critical points where pH or Mehlich-3 extractable Ca plateaued or declined as Mehlich-3 extractable P continued to increase 59

3.4. Relationship between Mehlich-3 extractable soil Ca concentration and percentage of Mehlich-3 extractable P as water extractable P (water extractable P -*- Mehlich-3 P x 100) for silt loam soils. Arrows represent asymptotes of Mehlich-3 P and runoff dissolved reactive P relationships from Fig. 3.1 calculated in regression equations established between Mehlich-3 extractable P and Mehlich-3 extractable Ca in Fig. 3.3. The/? and r2 values were derived from linear regression by taking the natural log of both axis 60

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6.4. Ammonium-N and NO3-N mineralization from dry ingredients and commercial fertilizers over a 112 d incubation study with Dewitt silt loam 144

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Poultry production in Arkansas is monetarily the most important agricultural industry. Each year, Arkansas producers grow approximately 1.2 billion broilers {Gallus gallus domesticus), resulting in over 1.7 million Mg of poultry litter (PL) waste material (excreta plus bedding material) that contains appreciable N, P and K. Traditionally, poultry farmers applied PL close to their animal production units as a fertilizer source for warm- and cool-season grass pastures. Over time, more P was soil applied than removed by plants and soil-test P concentrations significantly increased. Past research reported that dissolved reactive P (DRP) concentrations were linearly correlated to soil test P values;

therefore, higher STP equates to higher runoff DRP concentrations. Phosphorus, mainly an input from non-point sources via runoff, is considered the main nutrient responsible for accelerating eutrophication in freshwater systems and has caused problems in numerous sensitive watersheds across the United States. Specifically in Northwest Arkansas, lawsuits between poultry integrators and municipalities evolved with settlement agreements requiring transport of PL out of certain watersheds.

In eastern Arkansas, there are over 2.5 million ha"1 of cropland available for PL application; however, low nutrient concentrations compared to inorganic fertilizers, difficulty and timeliness regarding application, and negative public perception inhibit significant transport and application of large amounts of PL. Agglomeration of PL into spherical granules may increase it's use as a fertilizer source, because during agglomeration, PL can be mixed with additives to change overall physical and chemical properties. For instance, biosolids (BS) addition decreases granular DRP concentrations due to P interactions with metal salts added during the wastewater treatment process.

–  –  –

commonly attributed to nitrification and/or denitrification. Various binding agents can be incorporated during agglomeration to increase granule strength and water solubility characteristics. Nitrogen additions can increase the overall N:P ratio to match plant nutrient uptake and removal. Reformulating PL and BS into value-added fertilizers may increase their overall utility for urban and agronomic applications; thereby, moving PL and BS from areas with high nutrient soil concentrations to areas that are nutrient deficient. Leveling regional nutrient imports with nutrient exports will inevitably decrease runoff nutrient loss and increase overall water quality.

–  –  –

1. To evaluate the impact of long-term PL applications on soil P partitioning and runoff losses for traditionally acidic silt loam soils.

2. To quantify physical and water-soluble characteristics of value-added, N-fortified PL and BS fertilizers bound with various binding agents.

3. To determine runoff water quality from value-added N-fortified PL and BS fertilizers when applied on turfgrass golf fairways.

4. To determine N mineralization characteristics from value-added N-fortified PL and BS fertilizers after application to silt loam soils.

5. To determine fertilizer use efficiency of value-added N-fortified PL fertilizers in delayed-flood rice production.

–  –  –

The poultry industry has evolved over time and is now composed of large poultry production houses, known as confined animal feeding operations (CAFO), to increase overall output and profit. Poultry production in Arkansas is monetarily the most important agricultural industry with cash receipts accounting for nearly one-half ($2.1 billion) of the total Arkansas agriculture sales ($4.9 billion, National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2006). Arkansas producers grow approximately 1.2 billion broilers (Gallus gallus domesticus) annually, second in production to Georgia (National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2006). In Arkansas, over 1.7 million Mg of poultry litter (PL) waste (excreta plus bedding material) is produced yearly with 28% being produced in 4 Northwest Arkansas (NWA) counties (Benton, Carroll, Madison, and Washington Counties) representing only 6% of state land area (National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2006; USA Census Bureau, 2007).

Coupled with a high concentration of poultry CAFO units, NWA is also experiencing unparalleled economic growth as evidenced by being identified in 2005 as the 8th top regional economy in the USA by the Milken Institute (DeVol et al., 2006).



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