Poultry litter when applied to agriculture lands contains high trace element concentrations that may become toxic to plants and pose a risk to surface water and groundwater. We evaluated whole soil elemental concentrations throughout the soil profile using the US Environmental Protection Agency digestion method 3052 for Alabama benchmark soils that had received more than 20 years of poultry litter. Paired soils that had not received poultry litter were equivalently characterized. Pairwise comparison tests indicate that trace element concentrations were significantly greater (P < 0.05) in poultry litter–amended soils than those in nonamended soils. Cadmium, As, Cu, Ni, and Cr concentrations significantly increased with soil profile depth relative to those in nonamended soils. Chromium concentration significantly increased from 38.8 mg kg−1 (0–15 cm) to 116 mg kg−1 (75–90 cm) in Malbis soil. The downward migration of these metals and metalloids may pose a risk to shallow groundwater resources and, if the soil is eroded, may pose a risk to surface water resources.
1Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Milbank Hall, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL.
2Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT.
Address for correspondence: Dr. Kokoasse Kpomblekou-A, 210 Campbell Hall, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, AL 36088. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Financial Disclosures/Conflicts of Interest: This study was supported by the USDA/1890 Capacity Building Program and the George Washington Carver Agriculture Experiment Station at Tuskegee University.
Received May 15, 2012.
Accepted for publication September 13, 2012.