Alum amendment effects on phosphorus release and distribution in poultry litter-amended sandy soils

Kristin E. Staats, Yuji Arai, Donald L. Sparks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Increased poultry production has contributed to excess nutrient problems in Atlantic Coastal Plain soils due to land application of poultry litter (PL). Aluminum sulfate [alum, Al2(SO4)3· 14H2O] amendment of PL effectively reduces soluble phosphorus (P) in the PL; however, the effects of these litters when added to acidic, sandy soils are not well understood. The objective of this study was to investigate the efficacy of alum-amended poultry litter in reducing P release from three Delaware Coastal Plain soils: Evesboro loamy sand (Ev; excessively drained, mesic, coated Typic Quartzipsamments), Rumford loamy sand (Ru; well drained, coarse-loamy, siliceous, subactive, thermic Typic Hapludults), and Pocomoke sandy loam (Pm; very poorly drained, coarse-loamy, siliceous, active, thermic Typic Umbraquults). Long-term (25 d) and short-term (24 h) desorption studies were conducted, in addition to chemical extractions and kinetic modeling, to observe the changes that alum-amended versus unamended PL caused in the soils. The Ev, Ru, and Pm soils were incubated with 9 Mg ha-1 of alum-amended or unamended PL. Long-term desorption (25 d) of the incubated material resulted in approximately 13.5% (Ev), 12.7% (Ru), and 13.3% (Pm) reductions in cumulative P desorbed when comparing soil treated with unamended and alum-amended PL. In addition, the P release from the soil treated with alum-amended litter was not significantly different from the control (soil alone). Short-term desorption (24 h) showed 7.3% (Ev), 15.4% (Ru), and 20% (Pm) reductions. The overall implication from this study is that the use of alum as a PL amendment is useful in coarse-textured soils of the Coastal Plain. With increased application of alum-amended PL, more significant decreases may be possible with little or no effect on soil quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1904-1911
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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