ABSTRACT

Composted or heat-treated biological soil amendments of animal origin (BSAAOs) can be added to soils to provide nutrients for fresh produce. These products lower the risk of pathogen contamination of fresh produce compared with the use of untreated BSAAOs; however, meteorological conditions, geographic location, and soil properties can influence the presence of pathogenic bacteria or their indicators (e.g., generic Escherichia coli) and allow potential for produce contamination. Replicated field plots of loamy or sandy soils were tilled and amended with dairy manure compost (DMC), poultry litter compost (PLC), or no compost (NoC) over two field seasons and noncomposted heat-treated poultry pellets (HTPPs) during the second field season. Plots were inoculated with a three-strain cocktail of rifampin-resistant E. coli (rE. coli) at levels of 8.7 log CFU/m2. Direct plating and most-probable-number methods measured the persistence of rE. coli and Listeria spp. in plots through 104 days postinoculation. Greater survival of rE. coli was observed in PLC plots in comparison to DMC plots and NoC plots during year 1 (P < 0.05). Similar trends were observed for year 2, when rE. coli survival was also greater in HTPP-amended plots (P < 0.05). Survival of rE. coli depended on soil type, and water potential and temperature were significant covariables. Listeria spp. were found in NoC plots, but not in plots amended with HTPPs, PLC, or DMC. Radish data demonstrate that PLC treatment promoted the greatest level of rE. coli translocation compared with DMC and NoC treatments (P < 0.05). These results are consistent with findings from studies conducted in other regions of the United States, and they inform northeast produce growers that composted and noncomposted poultry-based BSAAOs support greater survival of rE. coli in field soils. This result has the potential to affect the food safety risk of edible produce grown in BSAAO-amended soils as a result of pathogen contamination.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • E. coli survived better in soil amended with poultry- versus dairy-based amendments.

  • Compost amendment affected soil moisture, which indirectly affected E. coli survival.

  • E. coli dispersal on radishes was greater with poultry litter than with dairy manure compost.

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