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Extension Education

Sudeep Mathew
Agent, Agriculture & Natural Resources
University of Maryland Extension


Microbial water quality is a major component of on-farm food safety and the proposed Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulation. Water is used in almost every phase of vegetable production, such as transplanting, irrigation, postharvest washing, chemical applications, and worker use. Given that water is a known carrier of microbes, the varying uses and sources of water can carry different microbial risks in an agricultural operations. Historically, the level of E. coli in surface water sources tends to be higher and more variable than well sources, as surface water is subject to environmental variables and potential sources of contamination. This study was conducted to develop baseline information by analyzing microbial water quality during the vegetable production months and by major water sources utilized in Maryland vegetable operations.  Water samples were tested for E. coli, total coliform bacteria, pH, electrical conductivity and turbidity. Vegetable grower sites were selected to represent various geographic areas including the Eastern Shore, Southern, Central and Western Maryland. Monthly samples were taken from 16 surface water sources (including ponds and springs) and 12 well sources from April through September 2013. When comparing the E. coli results to proposed national FSMA standards (126 MPN/100mL): 56% of surface water sources and 8.3% of well sources had higher than proposed standards. Highest E. coli counts were recorded for surface sources in the months of June, July and August. The project’s results are used in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) training and to develop on-farm water quality baseline information for Maryland growers.


Poster has NOT been presented at any previous NACAA AM/PIC

This poster is being submitted for judging. It will be displayed at the AM/PIC if not selected as a State winner. The abstract will be published in the proceedings.

A poster file has not been provided

Authors: S.A. Mathew, D. A. Martin, D. Pahl, B. Beale, R. D. Myers, W. D. Lantz
  1. Mathew, S. Agent, Agriculture & Natural Resources, University of Maryland Extension, Maryland, 21613
  2. Martin, D. Sr. Agent, University of Maryland Extension, Maryland, 21030
  3. Pahl, D. Research Assistant, University of Maryland, Maryland, 20742
  4. Beale, B. Sr. Agent, University of Maryland Extension, Maryland, 20650
  5. Myers, R. Principal Agent, University of Maryland Extension, Maryland, 21054
  6. Lantz, W. Sr. Agent, University of Maryland Extension, Maryland, 21550