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Benefits

Organic matter in biosolids improves soil quality, reduces compaction, increases water-holding capacity, and provides an energy source for necessary microbial activity.

Biosolids enrich the soil with essential nutrients and needed organic matter.

The agricultural benefits of biosolids have been documented for many decades by numerous scientific studies and through the practical experience of thousands of farmers. In Virginia, farmers report that the application of biosolids to land can, in some cases, more than double crop productivity. And since biosolids are used to replace chemical fertilizer applications, farmers not only prevent nutrient runoff but can save $350 an acre or more when biosolids are applied, compared to the cost of commercial fertilizer.

Plants need a complex mixture of nutrients, soil, air and water to grow. Biosolids contain many essential plant nutrients, including the primary macronutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and, to a lesser extent, potassium; the secondary macronutrients magnesium, calcium and sulfur; and such micronutrients as copper, zinc, iron, manganese, molybdenum and boron.

Organic matter in biosolids improves soil quality, reduces compaction, increases water-holding capacity, and provides an energy source for necessary microbial activity. This reduces water runoff and soil erosion, increases water conservation and increases resistance to drought. Biosolids that have been lime-stabilized help neutralize acidity in soils, just like agricultural limestone. This helps maintain the proper soil pH for crop growth.

Chemically, biosolids increase the soil’s “cation exchange capacity” (CEC), which is a measure of how well soil retains certain plant nutrients. The organic matter in biosolids acts like a magnet and attracts plant nutrients. It helps hold plant nutrients in the root zone and prevents them from leaching.