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Plant Buffers May Limit Spread of Antibiotics in Animal Waste

Research by scientists at the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry suggests that buffer strips of grasses and other plants can trap and break down veterinary antibiotics in manure fertilizers.

Buffer strips have already demonstrated that they can be effective in protecting water quality, controlling erosion and supporting wildlife around crop fields.

"That's the beauty of it," said Keith Goyne, assistant professor of environmental soil chemistry in the MU School of Natural Resources. "Vegetative buffers already are a recommended practice for reducing sediment, nutrients and herbicides in surface runoff. Our research is showing another benefit."

The finding comes amid emerging concerns about the use of veterinary antibiotics in livestock farming. Thirty to 80 percent of any given dose of antibiotic may end up excreted as waste rather than absorbed by the animal, Goyne said. When manure is used to fertilize croplands, antibiotics in the manure-enriched soil may leave the farm via surface runoff and eventually end up in streams, lakes or rivers.
 
 

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