Is it OK to use the GVRD Nutrifor product

Discussion in 'Soils, Fertilizers and Composting' started by greenthumb newbie, Oct 1, 2006.

  1. greenthumb newbie

    greenthumb newbie Member

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    Hi all,

    I was told that the biosolids product from GVRD called Nutrifor is supposed to be excellent for tree and shrub growth. A GVRD employee indicated that it increased growth in some trees by 50%. Does anyone have any comments on this product?
     
  2. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    havent heard of it to be honest. is there a link anywhere to more info?
     
  3. greenthumb newbie

    greenthumb newbie Member

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    Here is the link. There is a lot of information here but somethings are sounding off alarm bells. They provide a breakdown of heavy metals that still exist in the product.

    http://www.gvrd.bc.ca/nutrifor/
     
  4. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    It is an excellent soil supplement for ornamental plants but I wouldn't risk using it on vegetables & other edible plants (fruit, nuts, etc). Besides the heavy metals, there are persistent organic compounds, some of them carcinogens, some of them pharmaceuticals (ie. synthetic hormones from oral contraceptives).

    So if you can avoid using it on the vegetable garden, orchard, or any other place where you grow edible plants or may in the future, it's a great soil supplement. The problem with biosolids is that GVRD can't really control what people flush down their toilets.

    Simon
     
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    >or may in the future<

    In other words, forget it. What happens if somebody else buys the property and gets into it after you are gone?

    In the meantime, what about exposure while it is being applied? Then there is the problem of pets and children, are you going to fence all the areas where it was used?

    Former president of our local community college apparently had all these 'hot ideas' about attracting money to the campus, which resulted in

    1. Much of campus grounds being fenced off while sludge was trucked in from nearby major city and spread around etc. Wonder how much of the dust is now in the library books, ventilation systems...major city paid for priviledge of using campus as dumping ground for their waste.

    2. Largest remaining tract of continuous forest in this part of county, identified by state agency as highly significant to migratory birds, logged off and replaced with extensive golf course. Supposedly this was hoped to attract donations from foreign businessmen. At public hearing on Environmental Impact Statement for proposed golf course testimony against putting it in and for keeping forest overwhelmingly in the majority, yet the project went ahead anyway.

    Point is don't count on processed waste being a good thing for you to use just because it comes with some kind of official stamp. Officials can and do have bad ideas.
     
  6. chuckrkc

    chuckrkc Active Member

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    I think we're confusing a hearing on a development with other government activities. A hearing is only a hearing, and I think hearings are often offered so the planners and developers can say they listened. Even so, when hearings happen a lot of effort has already gone into the project. Also, developers and planning officials are pretty thick-skinned when it comes to NIMBY protests.

    I think the engineers at the water/sewer department have more concern about safety and more responsibility, too, than developers. I am also sure anything flushed down the toilet is diluted a great deal. So on one side we have suspicion and conjecture and on the other scientists schooled in treating sewage who measure the components and gauge the risk.

    We accept fertilizer without wondering where the raw material comes from. It seems we trust the engineers at large profit-seeking agricultural conglomerates but not public servant engineers.

    Whatever biosolids don't go into soil amendments must go somewhere. This could be an elegant answer to a vexing problem. It seems odd that a crowd that often backs use of animal manure and composting would not be intrigued by this idea. If you're concerned about what medicine may be getting flushed down the toilet, want to consider how overmedicated are the animals waiting for slaughter? (Read Pollan's Omnivore's Dillemma.) Yet cow manure has regularly been likened to gardeners gold.

    I am more comfortable with Milwaukee's experiment with biosolids than this one because of the EPA's oversight (saying the present U.S. federal leadership can't undermine it all). I am not saying U.S. biosolids don't stink but that the quality of the stink may be more even. However, the Vancouver area is much more "green" in my thinking than the city that beer made famous.

    I think this idea needs support. Only by showing support can you hope to improve the execution of the concept.
     
  7. Pamela

    Pamela Member

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    http://www.gvrd.bc.ca/nutrifor/faq-print.htm

    Describes all it's lovely qualities and then says it's not for sale yet. But there are biosolids from other WWTP's for sale in some garden centre. This article mentions a couple and I have also heard that the plant in Vernon sells theirs.

    While I am here I have a question. Do I need to bring my Oleander and bougainvillea plants inside now or can they wait a bit longer. Also will the Oleander do alright in a sunny window in an office building? I live in Surrey less than a block from where you lived as a teen Paul.
     
  8. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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  9. edd

    edd Member

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    I am new on this form.read this post about biosolids.The biosolid that is avaible in our area is called millorganite.It,s a class A type.And I am thinking about using it on my flower beds,mixed in with ratio 1 part bio and 3 parts peat moss and leaves.I would also use it on vege,s above ground but no route crop,s such as carrots,radish,ect.Cities have to get rid of this stuff some where and farming is one of the places.ny city sends 60 percent of biosolids to Flordia for their orange crops but where does the rest of it go? can,t find out.I am quite sure the EPA is watching very closely on plants that process this stuff for lawn and garden use.After all milorganite has been around since 1930,havent heard of any problems.
     
  10. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Milorganite has been reputed to contain heavy metals. So I have heard over the years anyways, be wary of use on edible crops.
     
  11. NiftyNiall

    NiftyNiall Active Member 10 Years

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    Another local GVRD Milorganite link: http://www.gvrd.bc.ca/nutrifor/pdfs/DecadeBiosolidsRecycling.pdf
    The Province earlier in the year, was seeking submissions about the use of this product and other waste products from burning materials. I wrote a small submission to the Province, when I noticed that the proposed manganese levels to be allowed, could have profound consequences on ruminants, who are sensitive to high levels, it can , and has, caused spontaneous abortions in cattle. I also asked them to consider if these materials were applied to the land to have documentation directly linked to the land title, because of the potential for future land uses. These materials have to go somewhere, tree farms, reclamation areas, appear to be a reasonable use, but these materials can still have an impact on the wildlife, some of whom are also ruminants. At present most of the locally produced "Bio solids" are placed into landfills, probably the best place for them, given the present state of the technologies involved. It is amazing how high, and how variable the levels of known deleterious compounds are found in these materials. The moral of all this is, keep an eye on the bureaucracy.
     
  12. davedirt

    davedirt Member

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    Re: increased growth for shrubs and trees. The fertility benefits are certainly there. Biosolids are similar to poultry (layer) manure in total N, NH3-N and total P content, while biosolids compost has lower levels of these constituents, with levels varying by treatment process and and the source material. Unlike synthetic chemical fertilizers (which also contain heavy metals, I might add), biosolids and compost applications add organic matter to soil.

    It may be difficult (or impossible) to control what residents flush down their toilets, but stringent quality control of the end product is certainly possible and more importantly, required. Honestly, I am unsure why there is even such a big fuss about what you flush down your toilet - it ultimately passed through your body when you ate or drank it, maybe zinc from zinc tablets you took this morning. Perhaps of greater concern is the copper leached from piping, maybe selenium from dandruff shampoo and mercury from the dentist's office, and certainly the consituents from industry that are sent to wastewater treatment plants. (Oh, and I loved Omnivore's Dilemma, but remember the author writes of an American situation in which livestock receive substances banned on Canadian farms. Since this is an organic residuals thread, I will avoid the not-human-health-related discussion). Different treatment processes, depending on the technology at the specific treatment plant, can produce biosolids of different quality. In turn, biosolids can further be processed into a higher quality compost or growing medium. This is where terms like Class A or Class B apply.

    Re: quality of the biosolids. I would argue BC biosolids beats the American versions based on stricter regulations for trace elements (sometimes imprecisely referred to as heavy metals). The BC Class A limits for all regulated trace elements, and even Class B limits for some trace elements, are lower than the limits set by the US EPA for its "exceptional quality" biosolids. Also, the EPA does not regulate chromium (and maybe cobalt, too; I am unsure), whereas BC does. Whether BC's limits are stringent enough to protect environmental health is another matter altogether. A discussion of biosolids 'quality' should include dioxins, organics and other materials like pharmaceuticals, and I will leave this to more knowledgeable people who can better defend their claims.

    Policy makers are subject to having 'bad ideas,' since they work with imperfect information. But the processes are transparent, such as the review of the Organic Matter Recycling Regulation regulating biosolids recycling (http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/epdiv/ema_codes_of_practice/omrr/index.html). And because of this, you can keep an eye on bureaucracy, hopefully a critical eye.

    So back to the shrubs and trees. If I could get my hands on some GVRD Class A biosolids growing medium, I cannot see why I would not use it for a one-time application in my yard. Oh wait, I can see one reason... opposition from my neighbours, who I should strongly consider consulting before going ahead.

    References:
    http://www.gov.ns.ca/enla/forum/docs/Bryden.ppt - not bad if you want a quick overview of biosolids recycling and criteria in BC

    McDougall, R., Van Ham, M.D., and Douglas, M.J. 2002. Best Management Practices Guidelines for the Land Application of Managed Organic Matter in British Columbia. Retrieved August 28, 2005, from http://wlapwww.gov.bc.ca/epd/epdpa/local_govt_section/pdfs/omrr_best_prac.pdf - the document has since moved.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2007
  13. davedirt

    davedirt Member

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    -just want to say that policy makers, bureaucrats, civil servants and 'government' also have good ideas
     
  14. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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  15. edd

    edd Member

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    After Reading The Comments On This Form One Thing That Is A Fact Of Life,biosolids Are Here To Stay.farmers Are Using It On Their Fields To Grow Forage And Food Crops.forage Feeds The Milk Herds As Well As The Beef Herds.most Of Us Drink Orange Juice. The Orange Groves Are Fertileized With It.all This Eventually Ends Up On Our Table No Matter How You Look At It Has Been Going On For Quite Some Time And I Am
    Quite Sure More Will Get Involved.haven,t Heard Of Any Out Breaks Of Illness From It,s Use.just My Thoughts On The Subject.
    Edd
     
  16. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Commercial and institutional practices that produce undesirable public health situations aren't unavoidable facts of life that cannot be prevented or removed.
     
  17. kia796

    kia796 Active Member

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    I've used the Kelowna product, also widely-touted as a beneficial amendment to gardens and plants in general.

    Two years ago, I used it as a thin top dressing on two of five petunia beds and it actually repelled water (like a waxed car). Water beaded, and then ran off, leaving the soil bone-dry. After several weeks, the petunias in those two beds had actually died, while petunias in the other 3 native soil beds were thriving.

    Yet on grass (where some had been accidentally spilled and left there), the grass grew in so green you'd think it had been spray painted green.

    I'll not buy this product again (because of pharmaceuticals and heavy metals), and I'll stick with fish fertilizer and compost which are considerably cheaper.
     
  18. MdeHaan

    MdeHaan Member

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    re: "I'll stick with fish fertilizer...."
    And where does fish fertilizer come from? From scraps and guts of farmed fish, contaminated with all the antibiotics and who-knows-what-else farmed fish are exposed to.
    I'll stick with homemade compost - at least I know what I put in it (Or I think I do!)
     
  19. kia796

    kia796 Active Member

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    I believe the farmed component approximates 25 per cent of wild, and expect a similar ratio within the fertilizer.
     

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