UC Merced’s Yocelyn Villa has been working on a project to better understand the long-term impact that biosolids applications can have. The research has involved producers in Merced, Sacramento, and Solano counties that have applied biosolids in their operations for 20 years. Villa explained that biosolids use is most commonly found in rangelands, which is shown to have a positive impact on a variety of factors.
“If a farmer or rancher does have grazing land and crops for feeding their livestock, using an application of biosolids is quite beneficial,” said Villa. “The data does show that soil fertility is improving. We see nitrogen increasing. We see carbon increasing. So, it seems to be like a win-win scenario here.”
There are two different classifications of biosolids in California, Class A, and Class B. The project incorporated Class B biosolids, which are the biomaterials remaining after wastewater treatment. Producers involved in the study indicated that biosolids are readily available and relatively inexpensive. However, Villa noted that there is a bit of a negative stigma surrounding biosolids applications. “Because of this negative stigma there is heavy regulation because there’s pushback from the community,” said Villa.
Although biosolids are applied in cropping systems, it is primarily for those used as livestock feed. Villa noted that continued research is still needed looking at how biosolids may impact food crops.
Listen to the full episode with Yocelyn Villa below.
‘Making Sense of Biologicals’ is a series from AgNet West that dives into various topics with unbiased experts in the field of biologics to help the industry better understand the product category.
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