USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture is embarking on a $1 million research project to look at antibiotic-resistant bugs in dairy cow manure, how they survive treatment systems and whether any residuals end up on farm fields.
To date, there has not been any direct evidence of antimicrobial resistance spreading as a result of antibiotic use on dairy farms. But there is the risk that it can occur.
“Animal manure is recycled to a farm’s land base for use as organic fertilizer for growing crops to feed cows,” says lead researcher Diana Aga, Henry M. Woodburn Professor of Chemistry in the UB College of Arts and Sciences. “This means that there is the potential for antibiotics and antibiotic-resistant bacteria to escape from the manure into the environment, potentially entering waterways or being taken up by plant material used as cow feed.”
Cornell University and the Universities of Buffalo, Michigan and Maryland will be involved in the project. Manure samples will be collect from dairies in Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania. Manure will be processed through anaerobic digesters, composting piles and long-term conventional storage.