Prairie strips for retaining antimicrobial resistant organisms

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Project Period: 
Project Investigator(s): 
A.C. Howe, M.L. Soupir, M. Helmers, Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Iowa State University
; L.A. Schulte, Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management, Iowa State University
T. Moorman, National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment, USDA-ARS

Antimicrobial resistance is a serious threat to both animals and humans. The large number of farm animals receiving antibiotics and their close contact with soil and water resources pose a public threat to the increasing emergence of antimicrobial resistance and ineffective drug treatments. Consequently, methods to mitigate the transport and spread of antimicrobial resistance are critically needed. Prairie strips are a conservation practice that uses strategically placed native prairie plantings in crop fields and have been shown to reduce the movement of soil and water from the agricultural environment. The study hypothesis is that prairie strips can also mitigate the spread of antimicrobial resistance genes and bacteria to the environment. This project develops a pilot system to test the retention of manure-associated resistance genes and bacteria in installed prairie strips and evaluates its benefits for surrounding soils and   waters. 

Project Results: 

Previous research has documented that prairie strips are effective at reducing the amount of sediment, phosphorus, and nitrogen leaving farm fields and moving to surface and ground water. This project extended the researchers' work to quantify whether prairie strips can also contain field-applied manure and related material, including antimicrobial resistant genes and organisms, within the agricultural environment and out of water.