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Why regulate manure use for food safety?

Submitted by on March 18, 2018 – 8:11 amNo Comment
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composted manure Special to Road Trips for Gardeners
By Susan Fisk

We all want assurance that the food we eat is safe. A recent “Soils Matter” blog by the Soil Science Society of America explains how regulations regarding manure use on agricultural fields keep our food safe and the soil healthy.

“Manure contains a lot of nutrients that can benefit the soils and the farmers’ crops,” says Jodie Reisner. Reisner is a conservation agronomist at the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agruculture. Manure is also widely available: one cow can generate 43-120 pounds of manure a day.

Growers use manure because it benefits soil health:

  • Manure benefits the living part of the soil called soil biology. It is a source of energy for soil life to grow, reproduce, and feed.
  • Manure helps the soil absorb rainfall for the crops.
  • Manure also provides nutrition to the plants as they grow.

But uncomposted manure can also contain disease-causing microbes such as E.coli and salmonella — and a dangerous, gut-wrenching experience for anyone who ingests them. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration created standards around manure use to protect our food supply. This gives growers clear practices for safe food production.

“Regulations on manure use for food safety provides consistent information to farmers who want to use manure, and safety to the consumer,” Reisner says.

The Soil Science Society of America is an international scientific society that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global soils.

(Photo by Jodie Reisner, courtesy of Soil Science Society of America)

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