Septage Use

BY: Scott G. & Chris G.

Essential Question: Is using untreated human waste safe for the environment and is it a help to the environment?


The use of animal waste for fertilizer has been done for hundreds of years. By doing this it takes the unused nutrients and recycles them back in to the soil. This extends the life of planting soil and allows farmers to grow bigger, better and healthier crops. In the past the biosolids used were pure, no chemicals and no other contaminants were in it. Now, the sewage used can contain household cleaners, drain clog removers and other such things.

As you can see there are some good sides and some bad sides to biosolid fertilization. A good aspect of the use of biosolids is that as more and more people are brought in to the world, there is more and more waste produced. As this happens we need some place to put the waste or some way to recycle it. We can do both of these with biosolid fertilization.

"Biosolids recycling is the best means of returning to the soil nutrients and organic matter that were originally removed. It is recycling a resource just as recycling newspapers or bottles is. If the right safeguards are taken, it can be environmentally protective and even beneficial."

(Martha Prothro, former Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water, U.S. EPA, statement made September 1, 1992).

Doing this increases the growth potential of plants.

It also increases the number of life supporting parts and aspects of soil. Some of these parts and aspects are minerals, nutrients, the ability to hold water, and a strong soil for plants to get their roots in to.

"Land where biosolids has been applied is producing much better than land that has been farmed 2-3O years without biosolids. Just through added organic material, the yield potential has increased substantially."

DAVE BLACK Past President Virginia Small Grains Association, Charles City, Virginia

On the other side of things, despite strict EPA regulation and inspection, there is still the possibility of chemical contamination. Think about it, when you take a shower, use bleach to clean your sink or toilet, or use a drain clog remover, all of those chemicals go into your septic tank. Now, when you take the materials from that septic tank and put them in to the soil you are also putting the chemicals in to the soil. I admit that it is a very little amount, however, after hundreds of thousands of gallons of sewage, it adds up.

This kind of fertilization is taking place in Newton, New Hampshire right now. Some people by the name of Raymond N. and Michelle N. began there pursuit of an alternative fertilization process about ten years ago. They started by doing huge amounts of research and talking to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and to others who had already begun with this kind of fertilization. Although it may seem simple, for instance, get some sewage and spread it on the farm, it consists of many, many regulations, rules and codes that have to be followed to a tee. Also it becomes a task of constantly checking the pH of the soil to make sure that it is with in certain limits.

Even though the raw sewage is very cheap the machines that spread it are not. These machines are not only big, and by big I mean those tires are anywhere from 6-8 feet high, but they cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the long run it comes out cheaper because of the demand to get rid of the waste. In most cases the sewage is free for the farmers, which equals free fertilizer.

BY: Scott G & Chris G.

Pictures from:

Biosoilds Recycling:

Beneficial Technology

For A Better Environment

By: The Environmental Protection Agency


Raymond N. & Michelle N.

Newton, New Hampshire