Winter is a great time to reflect on how your last season went and make plans for the upcoming growing season. It’s a good time to develop or review the fertility management plan for your farm. Providing the correct amounts of all the nutrients crops need when they need them most takes planning. Animal-based fertilizers are usually a key component of a sustainable farm’s fertility management plan. They can provide critical plant nutrients; depending on the source, they can also help build organic matter in the soil.

There are many different options when it comes to sourcing these fertilizers. You may already be factoring in cost and availability when choosing your fertilizers, but have you thought about food safety?

If you grow produce, which includes fruits, vegetables, herbs, and mushrooms, food safety is something you should keep in mind when using animal-based fertilizers because of their potential to contaminate produce with microorganisms that can make people sick. These include pathogenic E. coliSalmonellaCampylobacter, and Listeria, all bacteria associated with animal manure.

When assessing the food safety risks of your fertility management plan, you should think about four broad questions.

Keep reading Sara Runkel’s expert tip: How to Minimize Food Safety Risks When Using Animal-Based Fertilizers