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Potential risks when spreading anaerobic digestion residues on grass silage crops – survival of bacteria, moulds and viruses

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The survival of pathogenic and spoilage micro-organisms in soil and on grass fertilized with spiked anaerobic digestion residue (ADR) was investigated in a climate chamber during periods of up to 56 d. In addition, the survival of these organisms over time was investigated during ensiling of grass at 390 g dry matter (DM) kg−1 or 610 g DM kg−1. Micro-organisms included in these studies were: Clostridium tyrobutyricum, Salmonella serotype Typhimurium, Listeria monocytogenes, Campylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli, Talaromyces emersonii, Byssochlamys nivea, Porcine parvovirus and Swine vesicular disease virus. Soil and grass still contained high numbers of E. coli, Cl. tyrobutyricum and T. emersonii (1·9–5·4 log10) 49 and 56 d after fertilization with spiked ADR. Listeria monocytogenes and S. Typhimurium were generally found in the samples. This indicates that, within this time span, there is a risk of silage contamination by bacteria, moulds and viruses present in ADR spread on grassland. An increase in DM content of the crop decreased its ensilability as measured by pH and short-chain fatty acid content. However, no clear differences were found in survival of pathogenic and spoilage micro-organisms between the two silages with different DM contents, regardless of storage time. The lack of moisture and oxygen was probably sufficient to cause the reduction in vegetative bacteria in the 610 g DM kg−1 silage. However, bacterial and fungal spores and the viruses studied were not significantly inactivated by ensiling at these high DM contents and could, therefore, pose a health risk to farm animals fed on the silage if present in ADR applied to crops prior to ensilage.
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Keywords: biowaste; high dry-matter content; hygiene; micro-organism; silage

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Disease Control and Biosecurity 2: Department of Virology 3: Department of Feed, National Veterinary Institute, Uppsala, Sweden

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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