Poultry litter and grazing animal waste effects on runoff water quality

T. J. Sauer, T. C. Daniel, P. A. Moore, K. P. Coffey, D. J. Nichols, C. P. West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


In complex landscapes with multiple land uses, it is often difficult to identify the source of contaminant loadings. The objective of this study was to compare nutrient runoff as affected by grazing animal depositions vs. poultry litter application. Simulated rainfall was applied twice to 1.5 by 6.0 m runoff plots of tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) with treatments of no waste (CT), dairy calf feces and urine (DFU), poultry litter (PL), and dairy calf feces and urine with poultry litter (DFU + PL). Chemical properties of the runoff samples including pH, electrical conductivity (EC), C, soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP), total nitrogen (TN), NH4-N, NO3-N, K, Mg, S, B, Cu, Fe, Mn, Mo, Na, and Zn were determined. Plots receiving poultry litter had significantly greater losses of most nutrient parameters for both rainfall simulations. For the nutrient parameters of primary interest with regard to water quality, 5.0, 29.5, and 21.9% of the TN, NH4-N, and SRP applied in the PL treatment were transported in runoff during the first rainfall simulation as compared to 3.9, 5.0, and 15.3%, respectively, for the DFU treatment. Comparable percentages of the applied nutrients were lost from the PL and DFU treatments even though the PL treatment, with the exception of NH4-N, provided at least six times the amount of each nutrient. A severe rainfall event shortly after poultry litter application produces significantly greater nutrient losses as compared to similar application of grazing animal depositions at the rates used in the experiment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)860-865
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999


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