Phosphorus runoff losses from subsurface-applied poultry litter on coastal plain soils

Leonard C. Kibet, Arthur L. Allen, Peter J.A. Kleinman, Gary W. Feyereisen, Clinton Church, Lou S. Saporito, Thomas R. Way

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The application of poultry litter to soils is a water quality concern on the Delmarva Peninsula, as runoff contributes P to the eutrophic Chesapeake Bay. This study compared a new subsurface applicator for poultry litter with conventional surface application and tillage incorporation of litter on a Coastal Plain soil under no-till management. Monolith lysimeters (61 cm by 61 cm by 61 cm) were collected immediately after litter application and subjected to rainfall simulation (61 mm h-1, 1 h) 15 and 42 d later. In the first rainfall event, subsurface application of litter significantly lowered total P losses in runoff (1.90 kg ha-1) compared with surface application (4.78 kg ha-1). Losses of P with subsurface application were not significantly different from disked litter or an unamended control. By the second event, total P losses did not differ significantly between surface and subsurface litter treatments but were at least twofold greater than losses from the disked and control treatments. A rising water table in the second event likely mobilized dissolved forms of P in subsurface-applied litter to the soil surface, enriching runoff water with P. Across both events, subsurface application of litter did not significantly decrease cumulative losses of P relative to surface-applied litter, whereas disking the litter into the soil did. Results confirm the short-term reduction of runoff P losses with subsurface litter application observed elsewhere but highlight the modifying effect of soil hydrology on this technology's ability to minimize P loss in runoff.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)412-420
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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