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The Nitrogen Contained in Carbonized Poultry Litter is not Plant Available

Christoph Steiner
  • The University of Georgia, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Driftmier Engineering Center, Athens, USA
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/ Keith Harris / Julia Gaskin
  • Crop and Soil Sciences Dept, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of Georgia, Athens, Greece
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/ K.C. Das
  • The University of Georgia, Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, Driftmier Engineering Center, Athens, USA
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Published Online: 2018-08-25 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opag-2018-0030


Pyrolysis of biomass, reduces its volume, mass, odour, and potential pathogens, while concentrating nutrients in the resulting biochar. However, the plant availability of nutrients in particular of nitrogen remains largely unknown. Therefore, we investigated the nutrient availability of carbonized poultry litter. A nutrient poor soil was either fertilized with poultry litter or poultry litter carbonized at 500°C at the rates of 1.5, 3 and 6 t/ha. These organic amendments were compared with corresponding rates of mineral fertilizers (NH4NO3, KCl, CaHPO4, MgSO4) in a pot experiment. After four successive harvests of ryegrass (Lolium sp.) in a greenhouse we analyzed plant nutrient uptake and nutrient concentrations in the soil. While all treatments showed a linear increase in plant growth and nitrogen uptake, the plants fertilized with carbonized poultry litter did not show such a response. The carbonized poultry litter treatment produced more biomass than the unfertilized control, but the tissue concentration of nitrogen was below that of the control. Mehlich 1 extractable nutrients in the soil showed that there is more available phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium in the soil fertilized with the carbonized poultry manure, but these available nutrients were not utilized due to the nitrogen limitation to plant growth. The results clearly show that nitrogen contained in carbonized poultry litter is not available for plants

Keywords: black carbon; carbon sequestration; fertilization; nutrient availability; pyrolysis


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About the article

Received: 2018-02-07

Accepted: 2018-06-26

Published Online: 2018-08-25

Citation Information: Open Agriculture, Volume 3, Issue 1, Pages 284–290, ISSN (Online) 2391-9531, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opag-2018-0030.

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© by Christoph Steiner et al., published by De Gruyter. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License. BY-NC-ND 4.0

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