Effects of subsurface banding and broadcast of poultry litter and cover crop on soil microbial populations

John P. Brooks, Haile Tewolde, Ardeshir Adeli, Mark W. Shankle, Thomas R. Way, Renotta K. Smith, Ian L. Pepper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Agronomic management is aimed at managing the crop environment to maximize crop yield, but soil biology is often ignored. This study aimed to compare the application of poultry litter via broadcast and subsurface banding versus standard inorganic fertilizer to cotton (Gossypium hirsutum L.) and their effects on soil bacterial populations and fecal indicator bacteria. The study comprised a randomized complete block design, with fertilizer and time of application as treatment effects and cover crop as a main effect. Soil cores were collected and analyzed from 2008 to 2014. Fecal indicator bacteria were at detection limits for all treatments, where the integron 1 gene was significantly elevated in litter plots. There were few differences between litter application approaches, but both significantly increased key biogeochemical genes over control plots, whereas a cover crop only increased soil moisture and urease C. Data suggested a positive residual effect of litter application with 16S, phosphatase A, and urease C genes elevated over controls, but similar to standard fertilizer plots. High-throughput 16S ribosomal RNA analysis suggested increased diversity and enrichment indices in litter and standard fertilizer over untreated control plots. Litter and standard fertilizer effects persisted 4 and 2 yr after application, respectively, as evidenced by residual library community structures. This study demonstrated the positive effects of litter application on the soil bacterial community when compared with untreated control plots. Some differences between standard fertilization and litter practices were noted and suggest that there is a positive residual effect on soil microbial populations associated with both practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)427-435
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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