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Description

Main research question/goal
Every year, fertilisation with pig manure is responsible for depositing about 60 kilotonnes of nitrogen on arable lands in Flanders, including vegetable fields. In pig production, antibiotics are very often used to prevent or treat diseases and a significant amount of these antibiotics are excreted as active metabolites. Does this use of pig manure as a fertiliser have an effect on the spread of antibiotic residues and antibiotic resistance genes in the environment? A related issue is the survival of zoonotic pathogens like Salmonella in pig manure and after spread on the fields. The purpose of this study called VARMEST is to elucidate if and how pig manure can be used safely in agriculture.

Research approach
We develop and validate a liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry method for the detection of antibiotic residues in manure and soil samples. The next step is to screen the manure for antibiotic residues, antibiotic resistance genes and zoonotic pathogens after storage of the manure, before spreading it on the field and before and after injection of the manure into the soil. Last, we assess the effect of manure processing on antibiotic residues, antibiotic resistance genes and pathogens by analysing the manure before and after processing.

Relevance/Valorisation
Besides the known environmental problems caused by manure, concerns are rising about the inpact of antibiotic residues, antibiotic resistance genes and zoonotic pathogens on the environment via fertilisation with manure. We can distinguish three risks with regard to the use of pig manure in agriculture: 1) Antibiotic residues and their metabolites can cause the development of antibiotic resistance in various microbial communities or can be taken up by plants used for human or animal consumption, 2) Antibiotic resistance genes are present in the manure and can be passed on to bacteria in the environment, on plants or even in the human body, 3) The use of manure as a fertiliser can enhance the spread of zoonotic pathogens, which can continue to infect animals and humans and may also cause infections via the consumption of fresh vegetables fertilised with pig manure or irrigated with contaminated water.
AcronymVARMEST
StatusActive
Effective start/end date1/09/1331/12/18

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