Manure Manager

Features Applications Poultry
New poultry litter applicator holds promise


August 4, 2010
By Manure Manager

Topics

August
3, 2010, University Park, PA – A machine that can inject dry poultry litter and
composted cattle manure below the soil surface in pastures and no-till fields
is on order from a research coalition across five Chesapeake Bay states:
Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.


August
3, 2010, University Park, PA – A machine that can inject dry poultry litter and
composted cattle manure below the soil surface in pastures and no-till fields
is on order from a research coalition across five Chesapeake Bay states:
Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York.

There
are currently no machines on the market that can do this.

The
coalition is led by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientist Peter
Kleinman. He works at the Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research
Unit
operated by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in University Park,
Pa. ARS is USDA’s principal intramural scientific research agency.

Kleinman
and his research partners at Pennsylvania State University at University Park
and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University at Blacksburg received
a $786,000 grant to test four prototypes of the Poultry Litter Subsurfer.

Soil
scientist Dan Pote, at the ARS Dale Bumpers Small Farms Research Center in
Booneville, Ark., invented the Subsurfer, which injects litter with the minimal
soil disturbance required by no-till farmers who do not clear their fields of
crop residue before planting a new crop.

In
tests on Arkansas pastures, Pote found that the Subsurfer lowers nutrient
runoff and ammonia emissions by at least 90 percent, while increasing forage
yields. Kleinman and colleagues documented lower phosphorus runoff and ammonia
loss and greater corn yields in Maryland and Pennsylvania. Jack Meisinger, an
ARS soil scientist in Beltsville, Md., also reported lower ammonia losses.

As
a collaborative project, Pote led development of the Subsurfer, while
agricultural engineer Tom Way’s team at the ARS National Soil Dynamics
Laboratory
in Auburn, Ala., focused on developing a different prototype with
adjustable row spacing for litter application in row-crop systems and pastures.

The
two machines have such different delivery systems that Pote and Way sought
different patents. Pote’s Subsurfer uses a unique auger system that crushes
litter and distributes it to soil trenches, allowing precise control, including
very low rates not previously feasible. His tractor-drawn Subsurfer carries up
to five tons of litter and simultaneously opens eight trenches (two inches wide
and three inches deep), with one foot between each trench.

ARS
is applying for U.S. and international patents on Pote’s Subsurfer. One company
has applied for a license to commercialize it. Way’s invention has been
patented.