The Effects of High Copper Dairy Manure on Manure Storage, Soil, and Plant Growth and Composition

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Plant and Soil Science

First Advisor

Bosworth, Sidney


Control of PDD in dairy herds in the United States is essential for maximizing animal health, production, and profitability. A survey was conducted to determine use of footbaths on dairy farms in Northeastern NY and VT. The survey found, significantly more farms were using footbaths than were not (71 versus 27 farms, respectively). Copper sulfate (n = 59) was most frequently reported product used and footbath waste was disposed of to manure storage by 83.8% of farms. Research was conducted to examine these animal management and waste disposal practices on crop growth, soil, and manure storage. Greenhouse studies were conducted with objectives of determining effects of application of high Cu dairy manure on growth and quality of forage grasses and effect of excess of Cu applied from dairy manure on soil Cu concentrations. In 3 experiments, orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata L.) and timothy (Phleum pretense L.), were tested. Treatments were 0, 5.6, and 11.2 kg Cu/ha from CuSO4 in dairy manure that was incorporated into a sandy loam (Study 1 and 2) or a silt loam (Study 2) soil. Study 3 evaluated 0, 27.1, 54.3, and 81.4 kg/ha of Cu incorporated in a silt loam soil. Two years of research were conducted with the objectives of evaluating effects of the application of dairy manure with high Cu concentrations on growth and yield of corn (Zea mays L.) for silage and soil Cu concentrations. Treatments were 0, 9.12, and 18.23 kg Cu/ha and were applied to the same plots in 2006 and 2007. The 3 treatment were tested on early and late maturity corn hybrids. Two studies were conducted to examine the effects of excess Cu on manure in storage. Study 1 was conducted in the summer of 2006 to examine the effects over time of excess Cu on stored manure. Study 2 was conducted in the summer of 2007 to examine the effects of excess Cu on manure after 2 weeks of storage and subsequent effects of application to orchardgrass, timothy, reed canarygrass (Phalaris arundinacea L.), and alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.). Finally, soils collected from all research projects were used to evaluate the relationship of the extraction of Cu by CaCl2, Modified Morgan’s, and Mehlich-3 to total Cu measured by nitric acid digestion, soil CEC (meq/100g), SOM (%), and Cu applications. From the greenhouse studies it was found that orchardgrass appeared to be more tolerant to high Cu application from dairy manure than timothy and root Cu concentration was consistently higher than shoot Cu concentration. Two annual applications of high-Cu dairy manure had no effects on growth, yield, or composition of corn. There was no evidence of vertical movement of Cu in the soil after 2 annual applications to corn. Copper treatments did not change manure composition and did not change manure differently over time. Total bacterial counts were not affected by increasing the Cu concentration in the manure. The concentration of available Cu in the manure increased as the Cu treatment and total Cu in the manure increased. A single application of high Cu manure did not affect the yield or quality of orchardgrass, timothy, reed canarygrass, or alfalfa that it was applied to. As reported in other research the Cu concentration of alfalfa was higher than that of the grasses. Overall, Cu application rate has a large affect on the measure of Cu concentration in the soil and the strongest relationship to Cu extracted by Mehlich-3. The Mehlich-3 and Modified Morgan’s extractions are both good predictors of Cu extracted by CaCl2. Mehlich-3 is a very good predictor of Cu extracted by Modified Morgan’s.

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