Monday, November 13, 2006

Persistence and Transport of Pathogenic Indicators in Managed Slaughterhouse Residual Biopiles.

R. Michitsch1, R. Gordon2, R. Jamieson3, G. Stratton2, D. Burton2, and C. Lake3. (1) Dalhousie University/ NSDA, 14-200 Court Street Box 143, Truro, NS B2N 3H7, Canada, (2) Nova Scotia Agricultural College, PO Box 550, Truro, NS B2N 5E3, Canada, (3) Dalhousie University, 1360 Barrington St., Halifax, NS B3H 4R2, Canada

The management of animal mortalities is an inevitable yet often forgotten aspect of agricultural production. Farm animals and associated slaughterhouse residuals are potential reservoirs of pathogenic micro-organisms capable of infecting humans, and exposure concerns to these pathogens have initiated policy change and fuelled public debate. Canadian examples include the 2003 ban of specified risk materials from slaughtered animals in feed and fertilizer, and the contamination of drinking water supplies by E. coli 0157:H7 (Walkerton, ON) in 2000 and C. parvum (North Battleford, SK) in 2001. A means of disposal that is rapid, cost effective and safe, is necessary to reduce the risk of disease. In Nova Scotia (Canada), rendering or on-site burial are common but unsustainable processes. An alternative, emerging method of disposal is biopile management. However, information on the efficiency of biopiles to inactivate pathogens and dispose of animal-borne wastes and slaughterhouse residuals is lacking, thus necessitating further research. This is particularly important in a North-Eastern American context due to its cooler climate. Furthermore, there exists a general lack of research regarding the persistence and transport characteristics of pathogens arising from animal-agricultural operations.Three self-contained cells (3×5×1.5m wide/ long/ deep) were constructed in Truro (NS) to mimick natural soil and weather conditions while accommodating year-round collection of surface and subsurface leachate from managed biopiles treating slaughterhouse residuals. Research trials initiated in 2006 will determine the persistence/ transport characteristics of select bacterial and viral pathogenic indicator micro-organisms, both spatially and temporally, during the biopile active phase. The effect of differing carbon substrates, aeration, active phase duration and employment of geosynthetic liners versus these pathogenic characteristics will be explored, and other physical properties of soil, liquid and biopile media will be monitored. The focus of this presentation will encompass infrastructure designs, procedures and initial research goals.