Comparison of crop contamination by microorganisms during subsurface drip and furrow irrigation

Inhong Song, Scott W. Stine, Christopher Y. Choi, Charles P. Gerba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


This study was conducted to compare subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) with furrow irrigation (FI) in crop contamination with microbial-contaminated water irrigation. Escherichia coli, Clostridium perfringens, and coliphage PRD-1 were added to water used to irrigate cantaloupe, lettuce, and bell pepper. Samples of produce, surface, and subsurface (10cm) soil for each irrigation system were collected on Days 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, and 14 after the application of the study microorganisms. Overall, greater contamination of produce occurred in FI plots than in SDI plots. The microorganisms were detected on the surfaces of cantaloupe and lettuce, but were never recovered on the bell peppers. The greatest amount of contamination occurred with PRD-1 on cantaloupe. The study microorganisms survived longer in the subsurface soil than the soil surface. PRD-1 showed greater persistence than E. coli in soil, while C. perfringens experienced little inactivation during the experiment periods. This study showed that subsurface drip irrigation has great potential to reduce health risks when microbial-contaminated water is used for irrigation water.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1243-1248
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Environmental Engineering
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2006


  • Contamination
  • Crops
  • Furrow irrigation
  • Trickle irrigation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science


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