Bork, E. W., Lambert, B. D., Banerjee, S. and Blonski, L. J. 2013. Soil mineral nitrogen responses following liquid hog manure application to semiarid forage lands. Can. J. Soil Sci. 93: 369-378. Expansion of intensive livestock operations into semiarid regions lacking cultivated lands requires consideration of perennial forages for the efficient and sustainable disposal of manure. Little information exists on the nutrient dynamics associated with the application of manure to these areas. We examined soil mineral nitrogen (N) responses in four sites of the mixed-grass prairie, including two native grasslands and two introduced pastures, following different seasons (fall vs. spring), methods (dribble broadcast vs. coulter injected) and rates of liquid hog manure application (9.4, 18.8, 37.5, 75 and 150 kg ha-1 available N). Soil mineral N, including NO3-N, NH4-N and total mineral N, were assessed after application but prior to plant growth in April 1999, and again one growing season later in April 2000. Initial soil N did not vary with season of application. Soil mineral N predictably increased with application rate, but only in the upper soil profile (0-20 cm). Decreases in soil mineral N after one growing season in all treatments highlighted the ability of these perennial forage lands to immobilize large amounts of soil N, a significant portion of which was related to N uptake by vegetation. Compared with broadcast application, manure injection led to 35% greater soil mineral N (both NO3 and NH4) prior to plant growth, a response that persisted 1 yr later ( 12%), thus demonstrating the N conserved benefits of manure incorporation. Overall, increases in soil mineral N within these forage lands appeared to be relatively short-term in nature, largely depleting over the course of a single growing season, suggesting one-time liquid hog manure application at low to moderate rates may be sustainable in this region of the mixed-grass prairie.
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Vol. 93 • No. 3