Pathogen and Nutrient Transfer Through and Across Agricultural Soils

  • David M. Oliver
  • Louise A. Heathwaite


Human activity can place heavy stress on agricultural soils across the world. Soil systems are continually manipulated in order to support the increase in crop yields and accommodate more intensive livestock production and thus provide the planet’s ever-growing population with a diverse array of ecosystem services, among which food production features highly. The recycling of livestock manures to land provides a sustainable solution to support the ecosystem services that soils provide and a host of benefits both in terms of improving soil structure and also soil fertility. However, livestock manures and feces may contain a high number of fecal microorganisms that pose a threat to human well-being and potentially large concentrations of nutrients harmful to the ecology of freshwater systems that the soils often buffer.


Overland Flow Soil System Mitigation Option Fecal Indicator Bacterium Groundwater Supply 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Hydrological connectivity

The linkage of spatial locations through different hydrological flow paths (surface and subsurface) within the catchment drainage network.

Farmyard manure

Feces and urine mixed with bedding material (such as straw) used for housed livestock, and recycled back to land as an organic fertilizer.

Fecal indicator bacteria (FIB)

Nonpathogenic microbial parameters that can be used as surrogate measures of infection risk to humans.


The movement and loss of soluble elements and colloids from soil via drainage water to both surface water and ground water environments.

Matrix flow

The slow percolation of water through the soil pore system.


Term used − in the context of this paper – to describe the initiation of contaminant transfer and the process by which those contaminants begin movement from soil.

Nonpoint source pollution

Comprises contamination and pollution arising from many dispersed sources.


Microorganisms capable of causing disease or illness in a host and used here to refer to bacteria and protozoa originating from fecal material.

Preferential flow

Rapid movement of water and contaminants through the soil architecture. Much of the flow is focused in regions of enhanced flux, such as earthworm burrows or larger soil pores (macropore flow).


A liquid mix of feces and urine produced by housed livestock combined with water during management, and usually incorporating some bedding material to give dry matter content of 1–10%.

Surface runoff

Flow generated from rainfall and other water sources that facilitates the transfer of contaminants across the soil surface due to saturation excess or infiltration excess conditions.


A term used here to describe the movement of pollutants through soil-water systems.


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Books and Reviews

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biological & Environmental Sciences, School of Natural SciencesUniversity of StirlingStirlingUK
  2. 2.Centre for Sustainable Water Management, Lancaster Environment CentreLancaster UniversityLancasterUK

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