Effects of Grazing Management and Buffer Strips on Metal Runoff from Pastures Fertilized with Poultry Litter
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Metal runoff from fields fertilized with poultry litter may pose a threat to aquatic systems. Buffer strips located adjacent to fields may reduce nutrients and solids in runoff. However, scant information exists on the long-term effects of buffer strips combined with grazing management on metal runoff from pastures. The objective of this study was to assess the 12-yr impact of grazing management and buffer strips on metal runoff from pastures receiving poultry litter. The research was conducted using 15 watersheds (25 m wide and 57 m long) with five treatments: hayed (H), continuously grazed (CG), rotationally grazed (R), rotationally grazed with a buffer strip (RB), and rotationally grazed with a fenced riparian buffer strip (RBR). Poultry litter was applied annually in spring at 5.6 Mg ha. Runoff samples were collected after every rainfall event. Aluminum (Al) and iron (Fe) concentrations were strongly and positively correlated with total suspended solids, indicating soil erosion was the primary source. Soluble Al and Fe were not related to total Al and Fe. However, there was a strong positive correlation between soluble and total copper (Cu) concentrations. The majority of total Cu and zinc was in water-soluble form. The CG treatment had the highest metal concentrations and loads of all treatments. The RBR and H treatments resulted in lower concentrations of total Al, Cu, Fe, potassium, manganese, and total organic carbon in the runoff. Rotational grazing with a fenced riparian buffer and converting pastures to hayfields appear to be effective management systems for decreasing concentrations and loads of metals in surface runoff from pastures fertilized with poultry litter.
author list (cited authors)
Pilon, C., Moore, P. A., Pote, D. H., Martin, J. W., & DeLaune, P. B.