April 3, 2009

biosolids in the Annapolis Valley

Plan to fertilize fields with biosolids causes concern
Scientist understands 'ick factor' but says treated sewage is approved for use on farms
Tue. Mar 31 - 2:34 PM

A little bit of the city is coming to the country, and that has some people asking questions.

An Annapolis County farmer is preparing to spread biosolid fertilizer from Halifax Regional Municipality on hay and cornfields in the Clarence area.

Neighbours say they have concerns.

"I don’t think it’s ever been spread in the community before," said one woman who asked not to be named.

She wouldn’t name the farmer but said piles of biosolid fertilizer are appearing on the side of the roads, but the fields are still too wet to spread it.

"It can be quite stinky," said the woman. "Some people have complained that they almost get physically ill from it.

The whole article from the Chronicle Herald seems to have disappeared from the net (but you can buy it for 4 dollars here)

Nova Scotia's Ecology Action Centre's position paper (PDF)

Here is another story for those in the province following the blog - Bio-not-so-solids; Dumping sludge on farmland is a crappy idea, by Chris Benjamin in the Coast.

And here are the Nova Scotia Guidelines For Land Application and Storage of Biosolids in Nova Scotia, where distances from wells. waterways, time and covering (tarping) are clarified.


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how I feel about this one, as I'm not educated enough about the subject to pass comment. There has been a delivery of biosolids about 15kms from my home village (deposited in Noel, Hants Co.) and I know the citizens there are enraged. My only concern would be the spread of disease, but one would assume that this material has been adequately sterilized. Humans are meat-eaters, and that makes the matter a...different matter. It should be interesting to see how this plays out.

anne said...

Yes it will be interesting, if there is further inquiry I guess. My reading of the farm handling practices (which I can't find now..I'll post when I do) is that you have to tarp them if they are stored before spreading at farm. Is it raining there? The fields are pretty wet here, not sure how you could get on them .

The time frames for crops seemed pretty good to me in terms of crops planted if you are only looking at the pathogens that survived the sterilization. 38 monthes for vegetables for e.g.
But I am concerned too with contaminants - metals, drugs, toxins... what people flush.

I question too why is stinks so bad if its beem sterilized properly . There are several steps they can take to do this, heat drying being one. Killing a percentage (what percentage) of the pathogens is the other reason they "sterilize".
I'll try to find the N.S. management practises for biosolids.

anne said...

Found it and added the link to the practices guidelines - at the end of my post.

Isabelle said...

I just spent a half hour reading through the guidelines ... I could spend two more hours reading them and not feel good about applying this product. It is outrageous that it is sufficient to merely "reduce pathogen content" and not eliminate it ... or maybe that is not possible? The language this document is written in is very broad so it's possible (I think) to read interpretations into and out of the guidelines. I suppose there will not be labelling on any end product to say it was produced with the assistance of biosolids. I think this is a disaster in the making ... get ready for highrise agriculture.

Thanks for putting all this information together in one place.

anne said...

Hi Isabelle,
I expect you are making a connection between loose and questionable farm practises (possibly suspect biosolids) and a motivation for fast tracking food safety laws. Perhaps there is intentionality in this.

Growing food in "highrises" certainly doesn't skirt food safety issues: inputs (like biosolids), water, GMO contaminates and perhaps, nanoparticles will persist there.

My perspective is take good care of the farmland we have now...we'll need it.

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

I hate it when I see the bio-solid truck heading to nearby farms. So far I have only witnessed it being spread on pasture/hay ground in our area. People are enamored with the dark green, tall growth. They don't question the fact that the municipalities are looking for places to dump - it is free! What could be wrong with it.

One year we purchased a small amount of hay to tide us over, when our supply ran low. The cattle would not touch it - and they were hungry, we investigated and found out the fields had been fertilized with sludge the previous year. We learned to watch the cows that year - and trust them, the hay looked appeared to be of good quality.