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This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 31 No. 6, p. 2066-2073
     
    Received: Dec 17, 2001
    Published: Nov, 2002


    * Corresponding author(s): jtsims@udel.edu
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doi:10.2134/jeq2002.2066

On-Farm Evaluation of Aluminum Sulfate (Alum) as a Poultry Litter Amendment

  1. J. T. Sims * and
  2. N. J. Luka-McCafferty
  1. Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Univ. of Delaware, Newark, DE 19717-1303

Abstract

Aluminum sulfate [alum; Al2(SO4)3] amendment of poultry litters has been suggested as a best management practice to help reduce the potential environmental effects of poultry production. Past research has shown that alum treatment reduced NH3 emissions from litters, decreased the loss in runoff of P and trace metals from litter-amended soils, improved poultry health, and reduced the costs of poultry production. We conducted a large scale, “on-farm” evaluation of alum as a poultry (broiler) litter amendment on the Delmarva peninsula to determine the effect of alum on (i) litter properties and elemental composition and (ii) the solubility of several elements in litter that are of particular concern for water quality (Al, As, Cu, P, and Zn). Alum was applied over a 16-mo period to 97 poultry houses on working poultry farms; 97 houses on other farms served as controls (no alum). Litter samples were analyzed initially and after approximately seven alum applications. We found that alum decreased litter pH and the water solubility of P, As, Cu, and Zn. Alum-treated houses also had higher litter total N, NH4–N, and total S concentrations and thus a greater overall fertilizer value than litters from the control houses. Higher litter NH4–N values also suggest that alum reduced NH3 losses from litters. Thus, alum appears to have promise as a best management practice (BMP) for poultry production. Future research should focus on the long-term transformations of P, Al, As, Cu, and Zn in soils amended with alum-treated litters.

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Copyright © 2002. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.31:2066–2073.

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