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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Special Section: Antibiotics in Agroecosystems: State of the Science

Manure Injection Affects the Fate of Pirlimycin in Surface Runoff and Soil


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 45 No. 2, p. 511-518
    Received: June 06, 2015
    Accepted: Sept 16, 2015
    Published: January 4, 2016

    * Corresponding author(s): kxia@vt.edu
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  1. Stephanie B. Kuleszaa,
  2. Rory O. Maguire *a,
  3. Kang Xia *a,
  4. Julia Cushmana,
  5. Katharine Knowltonb and
  6. Partha Rayb
  1. a Dep. of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061
    b Dep. of Dairy Science, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061
Core Ideas:
  • Dairy manure injection reduced pirlimycin in runoff compared with surface application.
  • The majority of pirlimycin lost in runoff was dissolved in runoff water.
  • Dairy manure injection resulted in a slower transformation rate of pirlimycin.


Antibiotics used in animal agriculture are of increasing environmental concern due to the potential for increased antibiotic resistance after land application of manure. Manure application technology may affect the environmental behavior of these antibiotics. Therefore, rainfall simulations were conducted on plots receiving three manure treatments (surface application, subsurface injection, and no manure control) to determine the fate and transport of pirlimycin, an antibiotic commonly used in dairy production. Rainfall simulations were conducted immediately and 7 d after application of dairy manure spiked with 128 ng g−1 (wet weight) pirlimycin. Soil samples were collected from all plots at two depths (0–5 and 5–20 cm). For injection plots, soil was collected from injection slits and between slits. Pirlimycin concentrations were higher in soil within the injection slits compared with surface application plots at 0 and 7 d. Pirlimycin concentrations in the 0- to 5-cm depth decreased by 30, 55, and 87% in the injection slit, between injection slits, and surface application plots 7 d after application. Pirlimycin concentrations were 106 ng g−1 in sediment and 4.67 ng mL−1 in water from the surface application plots, which were 21 and 32 times that of the injection plots, respectively. After 7 d, pirlimycin levels in runoff sediment and water decreased 80 to 98%. Surface application resulted in six and three times higher pirlimycin concentrations in water and sediment than injection. These results indicate that pirlimycin is most susceptible to loss immediately after manure application. Thus, injection could be considered a best management practice to prevent loss of antibiotics in surface runoff.

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