Biosolids in Vegetable Production Systems

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  • 1 University of Florida. Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, 2686 State Road 29 North, Immokalee, FL 34142-9515

Land application and landfilling are the most common destination for biosolids in the United States. When properly treated and managed in accordance with the existing state and federal regulations and standards, biosolids are safe for the environment and human health. Application of biosolids in vegetable production as an organic amendment to soils can increase plant growth and produce comparable crop yields with less inorganic nutrients than a standard program of commercial synthetic fertilizers. No application rate of treated biosolids alone will produce crop yields equivalent to commercial fertilizers. Biosolids may be used in conjunction with fertilizer thus lessening the application rate required. The major obstacles to public acceptance are issues concerning water pollution, risk of human disease, and odors. Additionally, heavy metals are an issue of bias with public perception. To ensure safe use of biosolids to a vegetable production systems the agronomic rate (nutrient requirement of the vegetable crop grown) should be calculated before application for the specific crop.

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