Integrated crop livestock farming uses winter cover crops and animals to benefit growers and the environment. Winter cover crops enhance soil fertility, structure, water filtration and storage and reduced nitrogen leaching. Livestock grazing of cover-cropped fields increase carbon inputs and nutrient cycling. However, recent concerns about microbial food safety are limiting expansion of this practice because it may introduce fecal-borne pathogens into soil with a potential for transfer to harvested produce. Thus, the goals of this project are to determine food pathogen persistence/survival in soil and transfer to vegetable crops, and to determine the relationship between soil health properties, environmental factors, and pathogen survival in grazed cover-vegetable production in three states (California, Minnesota, and Maryland). Using sheep as a grazing animal, this project has been started from May 2020 in collaboration with Agroecology Lab in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California, Davis, USDA-ARS, the University of Minnesota department of Soil, Water, and Climate, the University Maryland Eastern Shore Department of Agriculture, Food and Resource Sciences, and The
Organic Center. Results of this project regarding the benefits of grazing and food safety impacts will be communicated via online webinar, outreach events, and conference presentations.
Click here to learn more about the Multistate Integrated Crop-Livestock Project.