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Reducing Manure Bacteria

When you have livestock, you have to be responsible in handling manure so nobody gets sick. Manure naturally contains a wide range of bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms. Some can survive for a long time in it.

Sagar Goyal is a professor of virology at the University of Minnesota. He says if dangerous bacteria like E.coli and salmonella are present in the manure, there are a couple of ways that the bacteria find their way to us.

"What can happen is the pathogens move downward and can contaminate the groundwater if the soil above groundwater is porous enough," says Goyal. " Second is you apply the manure and then the rainfall can then turn into runoff and it can contaminate water bodies that are near the farm."

A lot of the problem can be solved by mixing it well with the soil after application, and not spreading manure too close to water or tile inlets. Still, it’s no easy job to keep this stuff from going where it shouldn’t. 

Depending on how big your operation is, it may take several steps. 

"There are many different ways, you can store the manure for awhile and storing can reduce or even eliminate the pathogens present," he says. "And there are other treatment, aerobic and anaerobic treatment of manure."  

Some producers store it in deep pits or treat it with lime. Others may compost it.  Composting heats up the manure, killing the pathogens. Whatever you choose to do, manure management practices will keep harmful microorganisms from making us sick.