Forbes Walker and Shawn Hawkins, Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
During the 2009 to 2011 growing seasons, replicated plot studies were conducted at two University of Tennessee Research and Education Centers (RECs) to evaluate the yield and forage quality response of fescue-dominated hay pastures. Several fertilizer treatments were compared: two application rates of broiler litter (4.6 and 9.1 tons/ha), four application rates of an EQ biosolids (0.71, 2.28, 3.42, and 6.84 tons/ha), chemical fertilizer applied at University of Tennessee Extension recommended rates based on soil tests (68.4 kg/ha of nitrogen with supplemental phosphate and potassium as required), chemical fertilizer applied at a commonly-used beef producer practice (342 kg of a 19-19-19 blended fertilizer per ha), and an unfertilized control. Increasing rates of biosolids or poultry litter significantly increased spring harvested fescue yield and protein contents. Forage quality was not impacted by the rates of biosolids and poultry litter used, except at the highest rates of poultry litter (9.1 tons/ha)used, when luxury uptake of potassium increased nutient imbalance and the potential for tetany problems. Nitrogen availability for spring applied biosolids and litter was about 50 and 33 percent (respectively) Litter and biosolids provided a good source of some micronutrients (copper and zinc).