Long-Term Effects of Poultry Manure Application on Nitrate Leaching in Tile Drain Water

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Nguyen, Huy
Hoover, Natasha
Hobbs, Jonathan
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Dixon, Philip
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Kanwar, Rameshwar
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Soupir, Michelle
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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A long-term study (1998 to 2009) was initiated on eleven tile-drained field plots, ranging in size from 0.19 to 0.47 ha, to investigate the effects of poultry manure application on subsurface drainage water quality in Iowa under a corn-soybean rotation system. The experimental treatments included poultry manure at rates of 168 kg N ha-1 (PM) and 336 kg N ha-1 (PM2), each with three replications; nitrogen application from chemical fertilizer, urea ammonium nitrate (UAN), at a rate of 168 kg N ha-1 with four replications; and a control treatment that received 0 kg N ha-1. Subsurface drainage (tile) flow volume was monitored, and drainage samples were collected and analyzed for nitrate-nitrogen (NO3-N). The results from this 12-year study show that NO3-N losses with tile drainage were more likely to occur during the early stages of crop production (April to June) and were more related to the monthly distribution of precipitation than the total rainfall amount. The overall results of this study indicate that applying poultry manure at 168 kg N ha-1 resulted in significantly lower flow-weighted nitrate concentrations (PM < UAN < PM2) and the lowest nitrogen losses to subsurface drain water compared to UAN and PM2 application(PM < UAN < PM2), as well as higher crop yields compared to UAN application. Therefore, it can be concluded that poultry manure application at a rate of 168 kg N ha-1 is an environmentally sound N application practice with good yield potential for corn and soybean production systems with poorly drained soils in the upper Midwest. Future work is recommended to identify new practices and technologies to reduce nitrate loss to water systems.


This article is from Transactions of the ASABE 56, no. 1 (2013): 91–101.

Tue Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2013