Thursday, April 7, 2011
Sewage biosolids are nutrient-rich materials that result from the treatment of municipal wastewater. They contain nitrogen, phosphorus and organic matter as well as essential micro-nutrients such as copper, iron, molybdenum and zinc, all of which are important for plant growth and soil fertility. The use of sewage biosolids has risen many concerns for people even though Ontario alone has successfully controlled land application of sewage biosolids as a crop fertilizer since the early 1970's (1). There is a very strict process which all biosolids must undergo prior to being apart of your crops. Sewage biosolids applied to agricultural land must be treated by an approved process and they must be tested to determine nutrient content and to ensure they meet provincial quality standards. The land application site and receiving soils also must meet specified requirements and quality standards. From all of these restrictions it is clear that the concerns many people carry are unnecessary.
If we didn't use the biosolids as a fertilizer, it would wastefully be dumped onto landfills, or into our oceans. (2) It would pollute our world, and cause many devastating health concerns since it would be untreated and left for people to reside around.
The Pros and Cons of using biosolids as fertilizer:
Potential health hazard
It is a cost effective method of disposal
Recycles versus filling landfills
Contamination resulting from accumulation of industrial waste
Its true composition is unknown
Reduces emissions from transportation to landfills
May contain hazardous chemicals
Good free fertilizer
Possibly transferable to crops
Decreases property value
Even though there is some concern, I believe that using waste, which would normally be disposed of, is a great way in conserving our resources. Canada, as well as many other countries want to be 'green', and by recycling sewage biosolids to land is an environmentally desirable alternative to landfill disposal as it promotes waste diversion, and saves many farmers money.
Sewage biosolids are a valuable nutrient source for growing field crops such as corn, soybeans, canola and cereals. They are also highly suitable for growing forage crops and for improving pasture. Using sewage biosolids as a nutrient source for field or forage crops or for improved pasture:
- Reduces the need for commercial fertilizers;
- Reduces production costs;
- Improves soil fertility;
- Enhances soil structure, moisture retention and soil permeability;
- Adds organic matter that helps to maintain good soil tilth and reduce the potential for soil erosion and runoff.
Recycling this valuable resource benefits farmers and society. Farmers receive a substantial economic benefit because sewage biosolids provide nitrogen, phosphorus and other micro-nutrients that farmers would otherwise have to purchase to grow their crops.
I think that we are definitely not influenced by the western view of human waste especially since, at such a time, the world is trying its best to be so environmental friendly. The other parts of the world are going to think that we are trying our best to take care of the Earth and prevent it from any disasters. Yes, it may smell a little and yes, it may be a just a tad unsanitary. But if the right precautions are taken, this idea should be a really good way to improve the western world's image in the trying to prevent global warming.
In the end, I support using biosolids as fertilizer, I think it is such a creative idea, and amazing how something that we would think would be so useless is able to be used for so many agricultural products.
1- "Sewage Biosolids: A Valuable Nutrient Source." Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs / Ministère De L'Agriculture, De L'Alimentation Et Des Affaires Rurales De L'Ontario. Web. 07 Apr. 2011. <http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/nm/nasm/sewbiobroch.htm>.
2- "Biosolids - Water, Effects, Environmental, Pollutants, United States, EPA, Soil, Industrial, Toxic, World, Human, Sources, Disposal, Use, Health." Pollution Issues. Web. 07 Apr. 2011. <http://www.pollutionissues.com/A-Bo/Biosolids.html>.
3- Janssen, Don. "Fertilizing with Biosolids." University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County. Web. 07 Apr. 2011. <http://lancaster.unl.edu/enviro/biosolids/fertil.shtml>.
4- "CWWA - FAQ - Biosolids." CWWA/ACEPU. Web. 07 Apr. 2011. <http://www.cwwa.ca/faqbiosolids_e.asp>.
5- News, Cbc. "Biosolids Fertilizer Is Safe: HRM Staff - Nova Scotia - CBC News." CBC.ca - Canadian News Sports Entertainment Kids Docs Radio TV. Web. 07 Apr. 2011. <http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/story/2010/09/28/ns-biosolids-fuel-report.html>.