Ivermectin residue in vegetable plants and compost

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2012: $8,976.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: Northeast
State: Massachusetts
Project Leader:
Amylynn Kemp
Alpaca Obsession, LLC

Annual Reports


  • Vegetables: cucurbits, radishes (culinary), tomatoes


  • Animal Production: manure management, vaccines
  • Crop Production: organic fertilizers
  • Education and Training: on-farm/ranch research
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture, integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Soil Management: green manures, soil analysis, composting

    Proposal summary:

    This project seeks to conduct a study to determine if Ivermectin Residue would be found in vegetable plants and/or the vegetable when utilizing composted alpaca manure as fertilizer. Although there have been some studies conducted on the effects of Ivermectin on the environment and its rate of decomposition, there have been no studies conducted specifically on utilizing alpaca composted manure as a fertilizer and more importantly, whether or not it is possible for a plant or vegetable to absorb Ivermectin. Ivermectin is also not known as a carcinogen so it is not tested for Organic Gardening approval. MSDS sheet for Ivermectin indicates the the next most sensitive species, rat, rabbit and mouse developmental toxicity was observed above or near maternal toxic doses, of which, the relevancy to human health is not known . The study will also test the compost month to month over five months to determine the rate of decomposition of Ivermectin under the circumstances of most farms composting. One of the challenges of alpaca ownership is what to do with the manure produced from alpaca farming. As alpacas create communal alpaca dung piles, collection of the manure is a very easy process for the alpaca farmer; however, as with any livestock farming, one of the challenges is what to do with the manure once it has been piled and turned into compost. What compounds this problem for alpaca owners, is that in the eastern half of North America, most alpaca owners follow a regimen of injecting animals with Ivermectin (every 30) or Dectomax (every 45) days as a preventative for meningeal worm disease. Ivermectin is used at a rate of 1cc for every 50 to 70 pounds body weight of the 1% solution and injected at least 8 to 12 months every year beginning at approximately 3 months of age throughout the alpaca’s lifetime. Without this protocol, there would be a strong possibility of meningeal worm disease which results in neurologic symptoms and potentially death for the alpaca.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Two gardens with vegetables will be compared: one grown without any alpaca manure applications (control) and one with alpaca manure from animals treated with Ivermectin. The control group will be taken from existing garden on the premises. No alpaca manure has ever been added to the existing garden. Organic fertilizer is purchased from Gardens Alive yearly. To verify the presence of Ivermectin in manure, various tests will be performed on the manure, the compost and the soil. Ivermectin injections are always recorded in our alpaca health documents to confirm that Ivermectin was given to all the animals. The garden will then be established at a rate of approximately 3:1 alpaca manure to other top soil to prevent burn in the tender plants as well as to be more realistic in the rate of manure utilized by most gardeners. As with the control garden, organic seeds will be utilized. We currently raise our garden plants beginning indoors in February utilizing garden lights and will plant extra seeds for the study group. We utilize a hydroponic method of raising the seeds. A student from the department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences at UMass Amherst will be active in helping to establish the garden and ensuring its success. Her advisor for this project is Stephen R Purdy, DVM, Director of Camelid Studies at UMass Amherst. Measuring results Testing will be completed by UMass Amherst. The analytical technique utilized to test for the Ivermectin compounds would be HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography) with fluorescence detection of the derivatized macrolide. Results will be analyzed by Stephen R. Purdy, DVM, UMass Amherst and Stephen Cole, PhD, Emory University, Atlanta, GA (statistician). The study will help alpaca farmers and the alpaca industry understand whether there is any possibility of contaminating food with Ivermectin as well as how to properly compost Ivermectin treated manure. If the study shows that the vegetable does not take in Ivermectin, then farmers in the Northeast can move forward with promoting and utilizing alpaca manure as a fertilizer, in their own fields, etc. Should the results show that Ivermectin is taken into the plants, then farmers can regroup and develop a new plan to understand the effects of alpaca manure on ornamental plants for example. Outreach plan One the study has been evaluated and analyzed, the results can be shared with other alpaca farmers through NEAOBA which is the New England Alpaca Owners Breeders Association of which our farm is a member as well as AOBA which is the US Alpaca Owners Breeders Association.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.