Turkey manure ash effects on alfalfa yield, tissue elemental composition, and chemical soil properties

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


A power plant that utilizes turkey manure as fuel to produce energy was built in Benson, Minnesota, and started full energy production in 2007. The plant was built to meet legislative requirements governing the use of renewable sources to generate energy in Minnesota. Although the use of turkey manure as biofuel generates energy, it also results in turkey manure ash (TMA) as a by-product that contains phosphorus (P), potassium (K), sulfur (S), and zinc (Z) as well as other essential and nonessential elements. A 2-year study was conducted to compare TMA with triple-superphosphate and potassium chloride fertilizers as a source of nutrients for alfalfa (Medicago sativa) at three locations: Lamberton, Morris, and Appleton, Minnesota. The soils at Lamberton and Appleton were acidic with P and K concentrations ranging from medium-high to very high, whereas the soil at Morris was alkaline with high concentrations of P and K. The experiment consisted of a control (0 P and 0 K) and annual and split applications of TMA and fertilizer. Annual TMA and fertilizer rates were 84kg P2O5 ha-1, 118kg K2O ha-1, and 34kg S ha-1. Split rates were 42/42kg P2O5 ha-1, 59/59kg K2O ha-1, and 17/17kg S ha-1. However, because of an overestimation of citrate-soluble P in 2005 for the TMA, the total amount of available P applied with the TMA for the 2-year study was 168kg P2O5 ha-1 compared with 286kg P2O5 ha-1 for the fertilizer. In the first year, fertilizer resulted in greater alfalfa biomass yield than TMA and the control, whereas in the second year, alfalfa yields with TMA and fertilizer were similar and both more than the control. In 2005, TMA resulted in more copper (Cu) and S tissue concentrations than the fertilizer. In 2006, application of both sources increased tissue P and S concentrations compared with the control. The TMA increased tissue Cu concentration and Zn plant uptake compared with fertilizer. Bray P1-extractable soil P concentrations were less with TMA and control treatments than with the fertilizer treatments. Ammonium acetate-extractable soil sodium (Na) concentrations were greater with TMA than with fertilizer and the control. By the second year, both ash and fertilizer treatments resulted in more K uptake than the untreated control with no difference in K uptake between the two sources or time of application. Both sources were effective in increasing P uptake compared with the untreated control. TMA was shown to be an effective source of nutrients for alfalfa production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2874-2897
Number of pages24
JournalCommunications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis
Issue number17-18
StatePublished - Nov 24 2009


  • Phosphorus
  • Tissue nutrient composition
  • Turkey manure ash


Dive into the research topics of 'Turkey manure ash effects on alfalfa yield, tissue elemental composition, and chemical soil properties'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this