What are some of the potential benefits when using biosolids?
Biosolids are rich in nutrients and organic matter so are a good natural fertiliser as well as being a soil amendment to enhance the land. The nutrients including nitrogen and phosphorus (two elements essential for crop growth) and micronutrients such as copper, zinc and iron release slowly during plant growth.
Among their benefits, biosolids can:
- Improve crop production – Land application of biosolids that meet strict quality criteria help improve, replenish and maintain healthy soil by adding important nutrients, boosting soil water-holding capacity and reducing topsoil runoff, all of which serve to increase crop yields. The largest component of biosolids is organic matter. It works as a soil conditioner to promote necessary bacterial activity, loosening clay and improving the consistency of sandy soils. The improved texture of these treated soils promotes dense, healthy root growth, allowing better nutrient uptake by plants.
- Reduce soil erosion and protect water quality – Land application of biosolids can reduce soil erosion as the organic matter in biosolids binds with soil particles, thereby retaining nutrients and improving water quality. The end results are improved soil properties which enhance root growth and increase the drought resistance of vegetation thus further reducing soil erosion.
- Enrich tree plantations – Biosolids can promote tree growth and increase forest productivity for certain tree species. Biosolids used on pine stands can shorten pulpwood and lumber production cycles, particularly in marginally productive soils. Because biosolids enhance vegetation growth wildlife populations also benefit from more abundant understorey vegetation.
- Conserve landfill space – The use of biosolids through land application and other methods offers an environmentally sound alternative to disposal thereby conserving landfill space for non recyclable materials.
- Improves economic returns – Farming areas with marginal soil characteristics can improve productivity by the addition of biosolids, whichgenerate an income fromwhat would otherwise have been a cost to dispose.
- Provide topsoil for land used for recreational uses – In our dry climate composted biosolids provide much need organic material to increase soil moisture retention and promote plant growth.