This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Comparison of Broiler Litter, Broiler Litter Ash with Reagent Grade Materials as Sources of Plant Nutrients




Adams, Zachry

Type of Degree



Agronomy and Soils


Broiler chicken production is a major agricultural industry in the southeastern United States that produces large amounts of waste in the form of broiler litter (manure and bedding). Broiler litter is often used as a fertilizer for forages and row crops. The use of broiler litter as a fuel to produce electricity creates a byproduct of broiler litter ash which has the potential to be a fertilizer with a relatively high concentration of P and K. The objectives of this study were to (1) summarize a broiler litter survey conducted in Sand Mountain, Alabama and report nutrient content of litter and litter produced per bird, (2) determine nutrient loss in broiler litter upon ignition, and determine the effectiveness of broiler litter ash versus broiler litter and reagent grade materials as a source of plant nutrients in a ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum Lam.) and sorghum-sudangrass (Sorghum bicolor L.) greenhouse study, and (3) determine P adsorption rates for a sandy soil amended with reagent grade materials, broiler litter, and broiler litter ash. The Sand Mountain surveys were collected and litter was analyzed for nutrient concentrations and the results summarized and reported. Broiler litter was incinerated in a muffle furnace several different temperatures and analyzed for nutrient concentrations. Ryegrass and sorghum-sudangrass seeds were planted in pots containing a Lucedale very fine sandy loam and amended with reagent grade, broiler litter, or broiler ash materials then placed in greenhouse. Plant yields, heights, and nutrient uptake of P and K were determined. A Lucedale very fine sandy loam was amended with reagent grade, broiler litter, and broiler ash and allowed to incubate for 30 days after which maximum P adsorption rates were determined using the Langmuir equation. The average kg of litter produced per bird based on 12 houses was 1.11. Phosphorus and Ca concentrations did not change as temperature increased in the furnace. In terms of total yield for the sorghum-sudangrass greenhouse experiment, the BAK treatment is significantly the greatest followed by BLK and RGPK treatments. Phosphorus uptake for broiler litter and BAP treatments was not significantly different for harvest one of ryegrass. There was no significant difference in K uptake for the second harvest between BLP and BAP or BAK and BLK. The broiler ash treatments increased in adsorption as KH2PO4 was added at 10 mg, 20 mg, and 40 mg. The control treatment had the greatest predicted maximum adsorption rate of 159 mg kg-1.