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Recycling Biosolids into Agriculture – Acting Locally, Responding Globally

November 5, 2015

“Using a precautionary approach, recycling biosolids for agricultural use is an important strategy for soil health and community sustainability”.  I will unfold what this means practically in our communities. I will address the excellent questions regarding trace elements sometimes also called heavy metals, microbes, and emerging substances of concern.

“Acting Locally, Responding Globally” is a byline that states the obvious, all of us are doing this every day.  As a scientist who has worked with soil and waste for almost 30 years, I participate with others around the globe to consider how we can live more sustainability on this planet.

We need to manage our leftover food in a way that is safe for ourselves and our communities.  We in the nations who are more privileged than most in the world have the opportunity to develop, and to model sustainable management for the rest of the world. And as persons who have a shared responsibility on this planet, it is our obligation. We need to act locally, and respond globally.

A sustainable community is all about protecting and enhancing our soils. Historically, we recycled our organic matter, because we understood that it was important to return the nutrients and organic matter to the land to maintain soil health and productivity.

As our society becomes increasingly urbanized, we have separated the growing of the food from returning the unused portion back to the land to benefit the soil.  With the advent of chemicals and fertilizer, we tried to live in the illusion that the soil organic matter wasn’t really that important. Today, our world is changing again, and more of us are realizing just how important our soil and our organic matter really is. This is one of the reasons why 2015 has been designated by the United Nations to be the International Year of Soils.

There is a reason that the Soil Assocation in the UK, which promotes organic agriculture, is also considering the importance of recycling biosolids into agriculture. We will explore the global reasons for this in the next few blogs. In the meantime, there is a great documentaries that help explain the recycling of biosolids.

Water Environment Assocation of Ontario: http://www.weao.org/biosolids-video

This blog post is the introduction of a talk that I gave at a public forum organized for the Nicola Watershed Community Round Table in Merritt on January 26, 2015. The full text, along with the accompanying references, can be accessed here: Biosolids Management Jan 26 2015 talk excerpts Oct 16

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