Biosolids is often compared to livestock manure and commercial fertilizers given the nature of its work for a healthier soil structure and crop production. And while it has the same function and component as livestock manure, it differs greatly when compared with commercial-grade fertilizers, which, at the very most, can deplete the environment’s natural resources.
Biosolids is a product of the proper treatment of wastewater materials that mostly come from household kitchens, bathrooms, and laundries. It is a by-product of the right sewage treatment process, which follows strict government standards and guidelines. Generally, biosolids is a mix of water and organic matter that come from sewage sludge and treated to become soil conditioner.
Like livestock manure, it is a good source of many macronutrients such as nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and sulfur. These are important components to make the soil structure healthier and much more livable for plants, crops, and other agricultural materials. Moreover, biosolids is also a good source of organic matter, which can only be found in natural materials such as biosolids, manure, and crop residues. Often than not, an soil structure would lose its nutrients and organic matter because of various of factors such as cropping practices, tillage, weather conditions, and soil erosion.
While these are incidences that can be avoided, the technology and chemicals humans use today continue to be a threat to the natural order of things. It cannot also be discounted that organic matter is essential for the ability of agriculture soils to nurture crops and plants, as well as in improving the soil structure, moisture retention, and the uptake of plant nutrients.
Compared to livestock manure, biosolids must also undergo a certain process in order to be “applicable.” They are required to be sampled and analyzed bi-weekly during the land application season. Part of the requirements is for biosolids material to undergo analysis for nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as 11 other heavy metals of concern for agriculture. It must also go through rigorous checking for E. coli. And because biosolids technically came from household and even sometimes industrial sewage waste, it must be scrutinized and monitored for other types of contaminants. Chief to these are those that can be found in pharmaceuticals and personal care products.
Although biosolids are generally safe against these contaminants, that doesn’t stop governments and the academe to continue its monitoring and subsequent tests for the possible effects in the environment of biosolids with low concentration of contaminants.
Meanwhile, biosolids and commercial fertilizers are from the deep end of the spectrum. The application of biosolids on land offsets the need for commercial-grade fertilizers that could otherwise cause adverse effects on the environment. Commercial fertilizers are also costly compared with biosolids materials.