Researchers are looking at natural buffers as a way for farms and animal-feed operations to trap and neutralize antibiotics in animal manure. Keith Goyne, a soil scientist with the University of Missouri''s School of Natural Resources, says the amount of antibiotics in manure that is spread for fertilizer is currently quite small. But there are concerns that they could disrupt healthy microbes in the soil and lead to antibiotic-resistant micro-organisms in the water, "Which can subsequently threaten human health, livestock health and health of wildlife or fish if it makes it into an aquatic ecosystem," he notes.

The researchers are evaluating natural buffers that trap and filter water runoff, buffers that can be implemented at the edge of the field or as strips within a field, following the contour, that contain different grass species, Goyne adds.

“It’s what we call agroforestry buffers, which are tree and grass filter strips combined together." He points out that the idea is to preserve manure as the vital fertilizer source that it is, while making it as safe to use as possible.

"We want to make sure that farmers can continue to operate their productions, to feed the world and, really, do so in an environmentally friendly manner," Goyne says.

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