Knowledge and Current Practices Related to  Agricultural Water Microbial Quality among Kansas and Missouri Produce Growers

Yeqi Zhao, Olivia C. Haley, Manreet Bhullar, Don Stoeckel, Londa Nwadike Biblographic citation: Food Protection Trends, vol. 42, no. 6, pp. 460-470, Nov 2022 Volume 42, Issue 6: Pages 460–470 DOI: 10.4315/FPT-22-001

Kansas State University and University of Missouri Extension educators have been providing training and information on agricultural water microbial quality to help produce growers reduce risk. However, we recognized the need to determine knowledge gaps among Kansas and Missouri growers related to agricultural water quality and best practices. A survey was developed to determine fu-ture extension outputs and activities to encourage growers to improve their practices related to water quality. The survey was distributed to Kansas and Missouri produce growers attending in-person or online produce-related events in late 2020 and early 2021 and was also distrib-uted through email lists of produce growers from both states. Survey results (n = 101) indicate that 13.9% of the respondents tested their water for generic Escherichia coli more than once a year, whereas 38.6% of the participants had never tested their water. Approximately half (59.3%) of respondents indicated they used municipal water for postharvest uses, whereas 6.7% indicated the use of un-treated surface water for postharvest activities. To address potential water contamination risks, researchers suggest that further training and educational resources would help growers improve practices related to water quality and produce safety.

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