Biosolids recycling is the process of beneficially using treated biosolids to promote growth of agricultural crops, to fertilize gardens and parks, and to reclaim and replenish contaminated and mind-scarred land. Biosolids recycling is a natural process used by farmers and gardeners for ages. Biosolids recycling benefits the environment by:
Recycling a valuable resource rich in nutrients:
In the United States, 48 percent of biosolids are recycled, in contrast to 13.1 percent of household solid waste. Recycling biosolids allows us to use resources to their fullest, rather than wastefully disposing of them.
Promoting sustainable agriculture and replenishing that which is taken out of the earth:
Biosolids contain nutrients important to restoring the balance in the earth needed for crop growth. Biosolids applied to the land gradually release organic nitrogen to coincide with the amount of nitrogen the crop requires for growth. This eliminates any excess nitrogen that may seep into groundwater, a problem often occurring with the overuse of commercial fertilizers made with inorganic chemicals.
Helping to preserve diminishing landfill space:
In the past, biosolids have been put into landfills, the ocean, or incinerated. Today, we understand that soil is the best medium for biosolids; plant nutrients released in the biosolids recycling process increase the production of new organic material--an effect that has been found to be harmful in the water environment, but beneficial in soil. Moreover, beneficially using biosolids also means that limited landfill space is preserved for disposal of non recyclable wastes.
Promoting timber growth and replenishing a valuable, renewable resource:
Applying biosolids to timberland has been found to promote rapid timber growth, allowing quicker and efficient harvest of an important renewable resource.
Reclaiming contaminated and mined land:
Using biosolids recycling, strip-mined land across North America has been restored and topsoil nourished, enabling vegetation to grow and flourish. Additionally, biosolids recycling is being used at U.S. Superfund locations nationwide to replenish these cleanup sites.
Decreasing runoff and soil erosion by adding organic matter that captures water:
Without an adequate amount of organic material, soil is compact and water runs off, causing erosion and insufficient moisture for plant growth. Adding biosolids, which are high in organic content, causes soil particles to form separate clumps and tiny pockets of air. The air space allows water to enter the ground, enabling the soil to hold more water for increased plant growth. This, in turn, decreases runoff and soil erosion.