Many certified organic producers and small-scale farms rely on the use animal-based soil amendments (i.e., manure, compost) to improve soil fertility and quality. To reduce the microbial contamination of produce, a minimum waiting time is required between the use of soil amendments and crop harvest. One of the goals of our research is to characterize and identify risk mitigation strategies to reduce the risk of microbial contamination from foodborne pathogens commonly associated with human illness in fresh produce organically grown with animal-based soil amendments. Our ongoing projects are collaborative and involve the participation of the farmers, organic industry members, farm advisors (UC ANR CE), non-profit organizations (e.g. The Organic Center, Organic Trade Association), extension educators, researchers (University of Minnesota, University of Maine Extension, Cornell University, UC Davis (SVM, WCFS)), and state and national governmental agencies (e.g. USDA-ARS, USDA-ERS). The results of the data collected from our research directly benefits organic farmers and consumers by creating strategies to continue utilizing raw manure while limiting food safety risks. Moreover, our research will provide science-based recommendations to create new metrics for appropriate time-intervals used between untreated manure and harvest, and will inform ongoing FDA risk assessments and the organic and fresh produce industries.
Click here to learn more about the Multi-Regional Risk Analysis of Farm Manure Use.