Cropland amendment with beef cattle manure minimally affects antimicrobial resistance

Eric Miller, Mindy J Spiehs, Terrance M. Arthur, Bryan Woodbury, Erin Cortus, Amitava Chatterjee, Shafiqur Rahman, John W. Schmidt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Concerns exist that beef cattle manure amendment may increase antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in cropland soils and persist over time, potentially increasing food-animal and human exposure via feed and produce. Manure and soil contain many types of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. However, zoonotic pathogens and fecal indicators are most directly linked to human disease and environmental surveillance efforts. We measured the levels of eight antimicrobial resistant zoonotic pathogens and fecal indicators at experimental farms at three locations: Nebraska (silt loam), North Dakota (silty clay), and South Dakota (silty clay loam). Each location had four treatments: beef cattle manure, beef cattle manure with corn stover bedding, inorganic fertilizer, and unamended control. Tetracycline-resistant (TETr), nalidixic-acid resistant, and third-generation cephalosporin-resistant (3GCr) Salmonella enterica were not detected in any cropland samples. Treatments did not significantly affect cropland levels of TETr Escherichia coli, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole-resistant E. coli, 3GCr E. coli, TETr Enterococcus spp., or erythromycin-resistant Enterococcus. Additionally, levels of 10 antimicrobial resistance genes (ARGs) were assessed in all soil samples. Except for erm(B) and tet(M) at Nebraska, ARG increases after manure application dissipated before planting occurred. Treatment did not affect the following ARGs: aac(6′)-Ie-aph(2″)-Ia, aadA1, blaCMY-2, blaCTX-M, mecA, tet(A), and tet(B). The replicated experimental design, quantification data, and paired genotypic and phenotypic information collected for this study can be used to inform risk assessment models. The common US Upper Midwest practice of land applying beef cattle manure in fall does not result in significantly higher levels of the AMR tested in spring cropland soils.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1683-1693
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Environmental Quality
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the USDA-ARS National Program 108: Food Safety (Project no. 3040-42000-017-00-D) and USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (Grant no. 2015-67020-23453). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication. The authors declare no conflicts of interest. We thank Trent Ahlers, Todd Boman, Julie Dyer, Bruce Jasch, Alan Kruger, Katilyn Michel, and Frank Reno for technical support. We thank Jody Gallagher for administrative assistance. Names are necessary to report factually on available data; however, the USDA neither guarantees nor warrants the standard of the product, and the use of the name by the USDA implies no approval of the product to the exclusion of others that may also be suitable. The USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s).


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