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Impacts of Soil and Crop Management Practice on Fresh Produce Safety and Quality

Dadson, Robert
University of Maryland - Eastern Shore
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The overall goal is to determine the relationship between the nutrient/phytonutrient content and food safety of selected leafy greens in response to the organic/inorganic and microbiological constituents in hydroponic, aquaponic, and soil-based growth media. The objectives are:

Objective 1 (research): Determine the impacts of organic nutrient inputs on the nutrient/phytonutrient density and profile of microgreens compared to mature greens for hydroponic and aquaponic water-based production systems and organically-amended soils-based systems.

Objective 2 (research): Evaluate the growth and survival of enteric bacteria in growth media and transfer to microgreens and mature greens in organically-amended water- and soil-based systems.

Objective 3 (Education): Develop and deliver "food safety, Leafy greens including microgreens, and Aquaponics", e-learning, hands-on training, and internship opportunities for UMES students, faculty, and producers.

Objective 4: Enhance capacity building in the existing UMES food safety and agricultural sciences research programs and train-the trainers to disseminate information about small farm/community, microorgeens, and soil quality management practices using soil amendments and their relation to food nutrients and food safety.

More information
Soil organic amendments, including, green manure cover crops, animal manure, and composts, are used to improve the soil organic matter content of organic and intensively managed conventional fruit and vegetable cropping systems. Evidence indicates that organic amendments influence nutrient/phytonutrient profiles of fresh produce, however the phytonutrient response associated with use of different types of amendments is not clear and therefore recommendation for best practices to optimize phytonutrient density of produce are not available. Microgreens (tender, seedling salad greens) being produced in water-based hydroponic and aquaponic (use of fish-cultured water for plant growth) systems offer local, limited-resource growers small-footprint opportunities to produce high-value crops. This project focuses on research, education, and extension efforts to provide comparative data on the relation of phytonutrient density of microgreens and leafy greens and the microbial food safety aspects of their production by water- and soil-based systems organically and conventionally. Results will aid growers in producing and marketing safe, nutritious high value salad greens locally and consumers in selecting, purchasing, and consuming nutritious and safe fresh produce. The outcome will support development of science- and risk-based standards and practices for safe water- and soil-based production of microgreens and leafy greens.
Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
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Bacterial Pathogens
Natural Toxins