Dairy manure as a potential source of crop nutrients and environmental contaminants

Inna Popova , Danika Hill , Matthew J. Morra , Thibault Stalder , Sven Jechalke , Eva Top , Anne T. Pollard


Received April 27, 2020,Revised , Accepted July 15, 2020, Available online July 24, 2020

Volume 33,2021,Pages 117-130

Although animal manure is applied to agricultural fields for its nutrient value, it may also contain potential contaminants. To determine the variability in such contaminants as well as in valuable nutrients, nine uncomposted manure samples from Idaho dairies collected during 2.5 years were analyzed for macro- and micro-nutrients, hormones, phytoestrogens, antibiotics, veterinary drugs, antibiotic resistance genes, and genetic elements involved in the spread of antibiotic resistance. Total N ranged from 6.8 to 30.7 (C:N of 10 to 21), P from 2.4 to 9.0, and K from 10.2 to 47.7 g/kg manure. Zn (103 – 348 mg/kg) was more abundant than Cu (56 – 127 mg/kg) in all samples. Phytoestrogens were the most prevalent contaminants detected, with concentrations fluctuating over time, reflecting animal diets. This is the first study to document the presence of flunixin, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, in solid stacked manure from regular dairy operations. Monensin was the most frequently detected antibiotic. Progesterones and sulfonamides were regularly detected. We also investigated the relative abundance of several types of plasmids involved in the spread of antibiotic resistance in clinical settings. Plasmids belonging to the IncI, IncP, and IncQ1 incompatibility groups were found in almost all manure samples. IncQ1 plasmids, class 1 integrons, and sulfonamide resistance genes were the most widespread and abundant genetic element surveyed, emphasizing their potential role in the spread of antibiotic resistance. The benefits associated with amending agricultural soils with dairy manure must be carefully weighed against the potential negative consequences of any manure contaminants.

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