Antibiotic use in cows can affect soil health, increase CO2 emissions: Study

News: A recent study published in the journal Ecology Letters has assessed the environmental impact of antibiotic use in cows.


According to the study:

  • Long-term exposure to manure from cows administered with antibiotics can change soil micro biome and decrease their ability to store carbon.
  • The exposure also causes changes in the soil’s fungal and bacterial ratios as well as alter the bacterial community structure.
  • Carbon in soils exposed to manure from cows administered with antibiotics travel into the above-ground plant material, to the roots of the plants, into the soil and respires back out as CO2 much faster than any of the others. This means that when antibiotics are used, less carbon is stored in the soil and more is lost to the atmosphere as CO2.

Additional Information

  • Rampant use of antibiotics in livestock animals and poultry is also a major cause of antibiotic resistance.
  • A 2017 global study on antibiotic use in farm animals projected the consumption of antibiotics through animal sources to nearly double during 2013-2030.
  • The study had ranked India the fourth largest consumer of antibiotics in food animals globally after China, the United States and Brazil.