Biosolids, the treated solids from wastewater treatment plants, can be applied to farmland and provide a high-quality, low-cost nutrient source for the farm, and are also an environmentally friendly alternative to other disposal options like incineration or landfilling.
Biosolids are heavily regulated to protect human and environmental health from potential contamination by heavy metals or pathogens. This helps protect the farmers who receive biosolids on their fields, but also creates a large responsibility to follow those regulations and work with neighbors who might either be growing fresh produce or not farm and have concerns about air and water quality protection.
Michigan Farm Bureau is working with the Michigan Water Environment Association, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and wastewater plant operators to develop a series of fact sheets and land application guidelines, which will be made available to the public, farmers, and local governments.
The group continues to work on guidelines to address emerging issues, such as recommendations to help fresh produce growers comply with Food Safety Modernization Act and food safety audit requirements, and work with neighboring farmers on agreements to protect their crops.
Many other questions remain to be answered, such as how to separate the quickly advancing science of treating biosolids from the perception and fear of food companies and consumers, and how to prevent farms from being contaminated by newly identified pollutants, such as the state’s recent focus on Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
Laura Campbell | 517-679-5332
MFB: #12 Food Safety, #84 Nonpoint Source Pollution and Watershed Management
AFBF: #506 Waste Disposal and Recycling
Michigan Water Environment Association Guides on Biosolids in Michigan
Food Safety Modernization Act, and Food Safety Audit Programs: FDA GAP, Global GAP, and Primus
Michigan DEQ Biosolids regulation and PFAS research