Researcher takes on unenviable task of finding out if dog poo can be safely used in our gardens – ABC News

Posted: February 9, 2020 at 6:42 pm

Posted February 07, 2020 06:26:02

A researcher is doing society and the environment a solid by figuring out if dog poo can be composted for use in growing our fruit and vegetables.

While cow, horse and sheep manure have long been friends of the garden, the canine equivalent has been public enemy 'number two'.

Dog faeces is regarded as unsafe to throw into the compost because it contains a bunch of bacteria, which can carry diseases and viruses that can make us sick.

But disposing of it often in plastic bags is creating a growing environmental issue that is worrying CQ University PhD candidate and dog owner Emily Bryson.

She has taken on the unenviable task of seeing if dog poo can be composted and used for garden fertiliser on the plants we eventually eat.

"I'm looking at whether you can compost it in such a way that disinfects the pathogens and then we can use that compost in a really beneficial way," Ms Bryson said.

"We've been using different animals' manure in our garden forever and they have pathogens in their poo, but nobody's studied dog poo before."

So, wearing a body suit similar to what you might approach asbestos in, she is.

It is not just that dogs are carnivores that can make their faeces dangerous.

"We use pig manure in farming and they're definitely carnivores," Ms Bryson said.

"If you feed a dog a certain type of diet, there's evidence they can have a higher count of salmonella coming out in their poo, so it's something to be aware of."

To figure out exactly what pathogens need to be broken down, she has created a potentially very smelly backyard trial.

She has started collecting samples from a doggy day care facility to get a cross section of samples from different breeds.

To keep a lid on the smell, Ms Bryson has been mixing sawdust in to the compost and said, after a week, the offensive odour had gone.

While some council areas will allow dog owners to put their animals' droppings in a green waste or FOGO (food organics garden organics) bin, this can change depending on where you live.

Ms Bryson suspects much of the waste ends up being disposed of in a way that harms the environment.

"Dog waste is one of those things people don't know what to do with," she said.

"I was looking at the habits of people around me and they use plastic bags and put them into bins that go to landfill.

"I can put the dog poo in the green waste bin and that goes to an industrial composter, but there are a lot of people in regional areas who don't have access to that."

Ms Bryson is calling on the public to fill out a survey to help her find out how much dog faeces they are disposing of, how they do it, and whether their dogs are given preventative medication for intestinal worms.


Researcher takes on unenviable task of finding out if dog poo can be safely used in our gardens - ABC News

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