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Using Livestock Manure Properly to Ensure Food Safety

25 March 2014

Tips on protecting crops from potential contamination by pig manure from Wayne Du, Pork Quality Assurance Program Lead at Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and published in 'Pork News & Views'.

Do you use soil amendments such as manure or composted manure? Are you aware of the food safety risks?

Here are some helpful tips to protect your crop from potential contamination.

What is the difference between manure and composted manure?

  • Manure is raw or untreated animal excrement with or without bedding.
  • Composted manure is the manure that has been treated or processed to eliminate or reduce harmful bacteria.

Tips for Using Composted Manure

  • Ensure manure is composted following proper compost procedures to ensure pathogens are reduced to an acceptable level. Factors affecting proper compost:
    • Temperature – general rule: 55°C for three days/turning interval for 15 days.
    • Carbon:Nitrogen ratio – ideal C:N ratio of 25:1 or 30:1.
    • Aeration – accomplished by frequent turning of the pile.
    • Moisture– ideal 50 to 60 per cent water by weight.
  • Clean and sanitise any equipment used to handle raw manure before handling finished compost and between uses.
  • If purchasing composted manure, request a certificate of analysis or documentation of treatment method from the supplier to ensure the composting process has been completed.

Tips for Using Manure

  • When possible, avoid using manure that poses a greater risk for microbial contamination
  • than composted manure.
  • Incorporate manure into the soil within 24 hours after application to minimise contamination to adjacent crops from wind drift or run-off.
  • Establish five- to 10-metre vegetated areas along water ways to reduce the potential for pathogens entering surface water.
  • Do not apply manure on frozen soil or when it is raining.
  • Take precautions when using manure to fertilise produce crops that can be consumed raw:
    • Ensure a minimum of four months between manure application and harvest.
    • Ensure manure does not come into contact with the edible part of the crop.
    • Apply manure post-harvest.
    • Apply manure in non-fruiting years.

For more information on manure and composting, proper handling and application and storage requirements, refer to the Ontario Nutrient Management Act and OMAF/MRA’s Factsheets on manure composting.

Food safety is everyone’s responsibility. To attend our free online workshops on manure use and other important food safety topics, visit

Food safety practices keep agri-food businesses competitive, productive and sustainable.

March 2014

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