Mind your manure when working on GAP compliance

If handled improperly, manure can be a major threat to food safety when applied on produce farms. Here are a few things to keep in mind when applying manure on or near produce.

Manure can be a significant food safety problem when applied on produce farms. Raw manure should never come into contact with harvested produce and, in many cases, produce in the field as well. Properly applying and storing manure on these farms is essential to ensure reduced risk of contamination. Improper application can result in costly recalls or worse.

In general, manure should be stored at least 100 yards from the produce growing area. Be sure that no runoff from the storage facility enters the production area. Growers who choose to periodically check the manure storage area to ensure this should write this activity as part of a Standard Operating Procedure and the periodic monitoring should be recorded on a manure storage log sheet.

Either an annual calibration of the application equipment to ensure an effective rate of nutrient application or a manure nutrient test with applications in each field in tons per acre can serve to validate your rate of application based on crop removal. In either case, include any documentation or record the date of calibration in the GAP Manual. Application of manure must take place at least 120 days prior to harvest and at least two weeks prior to planting.

Growers with specific questions about manure use or has difficulty tailoring GAPs to their farm are welcome to contact the Agrifood Safety Work Group at gaps@msu.edu or 517-788-4292. To obtain more information on manure use and GAP certification, ask for AFSM026-01.

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