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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2013 Jan;79(2):535-42. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02506-12. Epub 2012 Nov 2.

Persistence and leaching potential of microorganisms and mineral N in animal manure applied to intact soil columns.

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Department of Agroecology, Aarhus University, Tjele, Denmark.


Pathogens may reach agricultural soils through application of animal manure and thereby pose a risk of contaminating crops as well as surface and groundwater. Treatment and handling of manure for improved nutrient and odor management may also influence the amount and fate of manure-borne pathogens in the soil. A study was conducted to investigate the leaching potentials of a phage (Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium bacteriophage 28B) and two bacteria, Escherichia coli and Enterococcus species, in a liquid fraction of raw pig slurry obtained by solid-liquid separation of this slurry and in this liquid fraction after ozonation, when applied to intact soil columns by subsurface injection. We also compared leaching potentials of surface-applied and subsurface-injected raw slurry. The columns were exposed to irrigation events (3.5-h period at 10 mm h(-1)) after 1, 2, 3, and 4 weeks of incubation with collection of leachate. By the end of incubation, the distribution and survival of microorganisms in the soil of each treatment and in nonirrigated columns with injected raw slurry or liquid fraction were determined. E. coli in the leachates was quantified by both plate counts and quantitative PCR (qPCR) to assess the proportions of culturable and nonculturable (viable and nonviable) cells. Solid-liquid separation of slurry increased the redistribution in soil of contaminants in the liquid fraction compared to raw slurry, and the percent recovery of E. coli and Enterococcus species was higher for the liquid fraction than for raw slurry after the four leaching events. The liquid fraction also resulted in more leaching of all contaminants except Enterococcus species than did raw slurry. Ozonation reduced E. coli leaching only. Injection enhanced the leaching potential of the microorganisms investigated compared to surface application, probably because of a better survival with subsurface injection and a shorter leaching path.

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