Managing Livestock Manures 4: Managing Manure on Organic Farms

Other issues


Pathogens

Concerns have been raised recently about the risk of potential transmission of human pathogens from manures, via the soil-plant route of e.g. E. Coli O157, Salmonella, Campylobacter and Cryptosporidium. An active research programme is currently investigating the risk. The risk will depend on the amount and type of pathogens excreted, and their viability during storage of the manure. Composting manure is likely to kill a large proportion of pathogens. Long-term storage, as opposed to composting, will also reduce pathogen numbers over time.

A sensible practical measure is to avoid applications, particularly  of fresh manure, immediately before or to crops that are likely to be eaten raw (e.g. salad crops). Sector Bodies and the Food Standards Agency are currently considering more detailed guidelines. If in doubt, seek advice from your Sector Body.

Genetically modified organisms

The use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is prohibited in organic production standards. This has been extended in the UK so that manure, composts and other organic fertilisers containing GMOs or their derivatives are prohibited for use on organic holdings. This means that imported manures must be from stock that have only received GMO-free foodstuffs.

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