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Assessing Agroecology Benefits and Novel Chemical and AMR Risks in Adopting a Sanitation-Agriculture Circular Economy


This project addresses the impact of landscape scale transitions from mineral to organic fertilisers, considering livestock and sanitation resources as drivers of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). We must understand the innovation in agronomic practices required to realise agroecology benefits whilst managing any potential risks with appropriate mitigation measures. This project will build new interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral capacity for research and innovation (R&I) benefits to reduce pollution emissions, their associated health and environmental risks, including AMR, and contribute new perspectives to an agricultural net zero. Stakeholders and researchers engaged in key sectors of the circular system (farming, wastewater, food/feed supply, environmental management) will collaborate to translate conceptual models into quantitative analytical tools and risk assessment methods, extending fundamental research horizons beyond the current paradigm of environmental flows. A stronger biological framing of these flows will be developed, working across a molecule to landscape scale. Novel data identifying sources of organic waste, their loads of AMR-drivers and microbial reservoirs of ARGs, processing streams for resource recovery, and their introduction into farming systems will be delivered. This project provides much needed thinking on the flow of antimicrobials and ARGs from the microbiome to the food-chain and wider landscape. Consideration of antimicrobial related risks associated with adopting circularity in agricultural production is currently missing in the UK. Designed to realise impact beyond academia with outputs directly informing challenges faced by stakeholders, outcomes include new demand-led R&I capacity, focussed on novel solutions to enable sanitation-agriculture-food circular economy, contributing knowledge, practice and policy to accelerate the safe development of a sanitation-agriculture circular economy towards net zero food production.

Professor Steven Banwart
University of Leeds
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