The lifetime journeys of manure-based microbes

Feb 22, 2013
The lifetime journeys of manure-based microbes
ARS scientists are studying the fate of cow manure in feedlots and in fields with an eye to increased food and environmental safety

Studies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are shedding some light on the microbes that dwell in cattle manure—what they are, where they thrive, where they struggle, and where they can end up.

This research, which is being conducted by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists at the agency's Agroecosystems Management Research Unit in Lincoln, Neb., supports the USDA priority of ensuring food safety. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.

In one project, ARS microbiologist Lisa Durso used from six to identify a core set of bovine gastrointestinal bacterial groups common to both beef and . She also observed a number of bacteria in the beef cattle that had not been reported in , and identified a diverse assortment of bacteria from the six individual animals, even though all six consumed the same diet and were the same breed, gender and age.

In another study, Durso collaborated with ARS agricultural engineer John Gilley and others to study how livestock diet affected the transport of pathogens in field runoff from manure-amended soils. The scientists added two types of manure to experimental conventional-till and no-till fields at 1-, 2-, or 4-year application rates. The manure had been collected from livestock that had consumed either corn or feed with wet .

After a series of simulated rain events, the team collected and analyzed samples of field runoff and determined that neither diet nor tillage management significantly affected the transport of fecal . But they did note that diet affected the transport of bacteriophages—viruses that invade bacteria—in field runoff.

Gilley also conducted an investigation into how standing wheat residues affected water quality in runoff from fields amended with 1-, 2-, or 4-year application rates of manure. The scientists found that runoff loads of dissolved phosphorus, total phosphorus, nitrates, nitrogen, and total nitrogen were much higher from plots with residue cover. The team also observed that runoff from fields amended with 4-year application rates of manure had significantly higher levels of total phosphorus and dissolved phosphorus than fields amended with 1-year or 2-year manure rates.

Results from these studies have been published in Foodborne Pathogens and Disease, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, and Transactions of the ASABE.

Explore further: The malaria pathogen's cellular skeleton under a super-microscope

More information: Read more about this research in the February 2013 issue of Agricultural Research magazine: www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/feb13/cows0213.htm

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

With feedlot manure, it pays to be precise

Jun 02, 2011

The same precision farming techniques that work with crops can work with manure management on cattle feedlots, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists.

Corn cobs eyed for bioenergy production

Jan 31, 2013

Corn crop residues are often left on harvested fields to protect soil quality, but they could become an important raw material in cellulosic ethanol production. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research indicates that ...

Minimizing mining damage with manure

Oct 26, 2012

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research confirms that the time-tested practice of amending crop soils with manure also can help restore soils on damaged post-mining landscapes.

Digging deep for ways to curb ammonia emissions

Sep 28, 2010

Dairy farmers can greatly reduce ammonia emissions from their production facilities by injecting liquid manure into crop fields below the soil surface, according to research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Cost effective manure management

Apr 05, 2011

Recycling manure is an important practice, especially for large livestock producers. Manure can be used as fertilizer to aid in crop production, aiding livestock producers that grow their own feed crops. While manure does ...

Recommended for you

For resetting circadian rhythms, neural cooperation is key

8 hours ago

Fruit flies are pretty predictable when it comes to scheduling their days, with peaks of activity at dawn and dusk and rest times in between. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Cell Reports on April 17th h ...

Rapid and accurate mRNA detection in plant tissues

10 hours ago

Gene expression is the process whereby the genetic information of DNA is used to manufacture functional products, such as proteins, which have numerous different functions in living organisms. Messenger RNA (mRNA) serves ...

For cells, internal stress leads to unique shapes

Apr 16, 2014

From far away, the top of a leaf looks like one seamless surface; however, up close, that smooth exterior is actually made up of a patchwork of cells in a variety of shapes and sizes. Interested in how these ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Deadly human pathogen Cryptococcus fully sequenced

Within each strand of DNA lies the blueprint for building an organism, along with the keys to its evolution and survival. These genetic instructions can give valuable insight into why pathogens like Cryptococcus ne ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...