The following, used under Fair Use, is a sample from the Water Environment Foundation's Fact Sheet "Land Application of Biosolids: Human Health Risk Assessment Related to Microconstituents."


"Land application of biosolids results in enhancement of soil health by improving physical, chemical, and biological properties of soil, nutrient recycling, carbon sequestration, and increasing crop productivity by the addition of organic matter to soils. Biosolids have been used on farms and other lands across North America and other parts of the world for the several decades."

Copyright © 2017 Water Environment Federation. All Rights Reserved.
WSEC-2017-FS-014, RBC Sustainable Residuals Use Subcommittee

The following Fact Sheet, used with permission, is a sample of the many postings on

Benefits to Farmers

Using biosolids based fertilizers

The beautiful farms that grace the Pennsylvania countryside are not state parks. They are small family businesses that must make a profit (or sometimes just break even) in order to survive.

But the trend in Pennsylvania and the nation is for more and more farmland to be lost to development—residential subdivisions, shopping centers, offices and industrial plants.  If a farmer can’t earn a living for his or her family from agriculture then the land may be converted to other uses—a loss for the environment and everyone’s quality of life.

The agricultural benefits of biosolids have been documented for many decades by numerous scientific studies and through the practical experience of thousands of farmers.

Plants need a complex mixture of nutrients, soil, air and water.  Biosolids contain some of all the 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.  Humans also need many of these elements, which are contained in multi-vitamins.

Given the current high cost of commercial fertilizer, the nutrient and soil amendment value of biosolids to a farmer in Pennsylvania is estimated to be from $150 to $200 an acre.  Given that the average farm acreage in the Commonwealth is only about 100 acres, this could mean a savings of $15,000 to $20,000 every two or three years, since a farm field typically won't receive biosolids every year, depending on the needs of the crops and the soil. 

As an example, the average annual market value of production for each farm in Lancaster and Berks counties is about $150,000 and about $50,000 in York, so it's clear that the savings from biosolids can be significant to the average farmer.

Organic matter in biosolids improves soil tilth, reduces compaction, increases water-holding capacity, and provides an energy source for necessary mircrobial activity.  This results in decreased water runoff and soil erosion, increased water conservation and more resistance to drought.  Biosolids that have been lime-stabilized help neutralize acidity in soils, just as is done by agricultural limestone, which 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 a 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.

Copyright 2009 Pennsylvania Biosolids Recycling Alliance


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Diane's most recent post is entitled, "The Latest Information About Covid-19 as It Relates to Biosolids"

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News & Events

Diane Garvey was recently awarded the David A. Long Memorial Educational Service Award by the Pennsylvania Water Environment Association!


This award was established in honor of Dr. David A. Long in recognition of his lifelong service and dedication toward the education and training of wastewater and water treatment plant operators and environmental professionals.


This award is presented to individuals who distinguish themselves through their efforts and contributions to the education of water quality professionals.

DC Water has launched its new branded biosolids product: BLOOM. And you can learn about this project at the new website:



For more information on any of the above topics, please contact Diane Garvey at or call 215-362-4444.

Garvey Resources was a partner in the development of the Rodale Institute's Water Purification ECO-Center.  Read about it on our Biosolids Blog.

Rodale Institute ECO-Center and wetland.

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