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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory » Research » Research Project #432049

Research Project: Multi-regional Risk Analysis of Farm Manure Use: Balancing Soil Health and Food Safety for Organic Fresh Produce Production

Location: Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory

Project Number: 8042-32420-009-018-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Oct 1, 2016
End Date: Aug 31, 2021

This is an integrated research and extension risk-based approach to assess current management practices affecting the survival time of pathogens and soil health used by the organic industry related to raw manure and untreated manure. The study will include 3 Objectives: 1) Assessment of on-farm practices associated with persistence of pathogens among organic farmers using raw/untreated animal manure- based soil amendments, on diverse certified organic farms in the US; 2) Determine the relationship between soil health and pathogen survival (i.e., time interval to reach rare or non-detect limit) in certified organically grown vegetable fields amended with raw animal manure; 3) Develop a comprehensive on-line and in-person (mixed model) outreach program to provide technical and systems-based produce food safety training.

Cooperators at the Universities of California (Davis), Minnesota, and Maryland will provide their Certified National Organic Program fields (as required by Organic Research and Education Initiative grant program) for use in the field experiment trials in this project. Staff in Environmental Microbial Food Safety Lab (EMFSL), collaborating with staff in Sustainable Agricultural Systems Lab (BARC), will conduct microbial community analyses of soil and manure samples from the experimental field trial sites and 27 organic farms (which The Organic Center with State Extension Agents arrange for sampling soil, manure, and plants). EMFSL will determine the capacity of the manure-amended compared to unamended soils to inhibit multiple strains of generic E. coli, E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes after soil amendment. Results will be released via E-Xtension and peer-review publications.