Land Application Symposium Highlights

The MidAtlantic Biosolids Association (MABA) held a Biosolids Land Application Symposium inLancaster, July 16-17, 2013. Bill Toffey, MABA Executive Director, arranged for 26 speakers from the Mid-Atlantic region. The following list highlights some of the most significant information to come out of the symposium:


Rufus Chaney, USDA - Part 503 regulations will be changed to include Molybdenum in table 3. The new limit proposed will be 40 mg/kg. Also, his research shows that when manure is land-applied at agricultural rates, 180 kg/ha of N (160 lb/ac) is lost to leaching and runoff. Biosolids application in agriculture is less likely to result in phosphorus entering surface water than manure. The phosphorus is bound to the biosolids and this can be demonstrated by a laboratory test that measures water extractable phosphorus. When asked; “Is the P in Biosolids available to the crops?” Dr. Chaney said yes, and the plant available P can be estimated using the Mehlich 3 test.[1]


Chris Peot, DC Water - Farmers say that the lime-stabilized biosolids from DC Water is worth $300 per acre. Also, research shows that fields receiving biosolids are more drought tolerant and benefit from the bacteria in biosolids that produce auxin and cytokinins (plant growth hormones).[2]


Bob Broom with McGill Composting - Success in getting an approved site for a composting facility in eastern PA can be attributed to home visits with all local residents who had questions.


Robert Bastian, USEPA - The latest research on regrowth, reactivation and odors will result in more stringent time/temperature standards for mesophyllic and thermophyllic anaerobic digesters. There is a real need for a Vector Attraction Equivalency Committee to evaluate new technologies. However, this will require a regulatory change and won’t happen until 2015 at the earliest.

Bastian recommends producing biosolids that is more acceptable to the public and pointed to the following needs which would best be addressed by the regulated community developing best management standards:

  • Need for optimal process controls –this should be industry based not regulatory based to control potential odor production.
  • Need for establishing “Stability” measures for finished biosolids including Class B as well as Class A/EQ products.
  • Need to address pathogen regrowth/reactivation and fate of antibiotic resistant pathogens in biosolids.


Jimmy Slaughter, Attorney for Beveridge and Diamond law firm- “Protecting Land Application inPennsylvania and Beyond”

Toxic Tort Suits – experience and results to date;

  • No case has linked biosolids to human health problems through a court-approved expert report, court finding, or jury verdict
  • EPA addressed and rebutted the underlying allegations of health impacts in a comprehensive letter dated December 2003 denying a petition to ban land application; NAS also has not found links in 1996 and 2002 studies

Toxic Tort Suits: Lessons Learned

  • Odors are the focus, spur illness claims
  • Data on odor levels are invaluable
  • The more regulator visits, the better


Diane Garvey, Garvey Resources, Inc. – “Conforming Biosolids Use to Nutrient Management Planning Practices inPennsylvania.”

Subsurface injection of biosolids and manures could help farmers comply with nutrient management regulations, increase yields, and minimize odors.


Many more farms are required to have a Nutrient Management Plan prepared by a certified Nutrient Management Specialist. Many of these specialists have no experience with biosolids. They must use a spreadsheet provided by PA Department of Agriculture. In order to make it easier for Nutrient Management Planners to make recommendations for biosolids we should give them biosolids data in a form with which they are accustomed. For $35, biosolids producers should run a manure analysis on the biosolids once per year. Be sure to request the test for Phosphorus Source Coefficient (PSC) as well as the basic analysis. The PSC test typically produces a result of 0.1. Without this test result, nutrient management planners would have to use a “Book Value” for biosolids which ranges from 0.4 to 0.8. Using the Book Value in the Phosphorus Index could result in very stringent criteria for that field. These criteria might include biosolids loading only at the crop uptake rate or even no addition of phosphorus, which means no use of biosolids or manures on that field.


[1]“ Biosolids Phosphate: Plant Available but not Water Soluble. Regulation Needs to be Based on Water Extractable P, not Soil Test P”. Rufus Chaney PHD, Urszula Kukier and Eton Codling; USDA-ARS-EMBUL,Beltsville,MD

[2] “Auxin-Boosted Biosolids Impact on Drought Resistance in Kentucky Bluegrass” Xunzhong Zhang, E. H. Ervin*, G. Evanylo, and K. Haering; Virginia Polytechnic Institute andStateUniversity


PA Certified Woman Business Enterprise



Nutrient Management Planning Specialist

Odor Management Planning Specialist

Follow Garvey Resources, Inc. on Facebook

Keep informed about the latest biosolids news and trends by following Diane Garvey's Biosolids Blog.


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

Biosolids Blog

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.

Contact Us or Make an Appointment

We invite you to call or e-mail us today to discuss optimizing your biosolids program.


For answers to your questions or to schedule an appointment, please call: 



Or send us an email at