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Environmental Considerations

Environmental Considerations

Management strategies to aid the control of Johne's disease can, and often do have significant effects. On some farms however, control measures have little or no impact. Whithin the Paraban project, staff at The James Hutton Institute (JHI) have been investigating environmental factors associated with the survivability of MAP bacteria in the soil.

Their work has demonstrated that the causal agent - MAP - survives best in low pH soils with high levels of available iron and a rich organic matter content. It also appears to favour cool and moist climates and has been found in standing water. 

Soil Maps

Information of the profile of the soil may be of use to inform farmers which areas of their land favour the survivability of MAP. 

For the Paraban farms, the James Hutton Institute have built up pictures of availlable iron in the topsoil, upper subsoil and lower subsoil and these gave the Paraban farmers an additional tool, indicating particular areas on their farms where there could be conditions favouring the survival of MAP. These areas could be reserved as cull cow grazing - or arable only.

Key Messages from Environmental Testing

Anecdotal evidence suggests that liming or improving drainage may reduce the survival of MAP in the soil. Ploughing exposes soil at depth to sunlight and this is also thought to be an advantage.

Manage manures and slurry to maximise the time between spreading and grazing - or store in a midden for as long as possible before spreading. Prevent stock accessing outdoor middens.

If it is possible, provide a piped water source and prevent stock drinking from natural water sources. Ideally, areas prone to standing water should be fenced off.

For more information, visit the James Hutton Institute's page on Human and Animal Pathogens in the Environment.

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