Biosolids (treated or stabilised sewage sludge) are a product of human excreta and a vehicle for numerous contaminants (heavy metals, human pathogens, pharmaceutical and personal care products). They makeup about a third of organic wastes and are generally landfilled in New Zealand. While the presence of microcontaminants including emerging contaminants presents challenges, biosolids are carbon-rich and can contain high concentrations of valuable plant nutrients which offer opportunities for reuse.
A Foundation for Research, Science and Technology research programme under the partnership of three Crown Research Institutes (CRIs): ESR, Scion and Landcare Research, in collaboration with other CRIs, universities and
iwi, is addressing the hypothesis that uncertainty about knowledge gaps is a key barrier to biosolids land application.
The research will be centred on two case studies where the programme will work in partnership with small communities and councils and will have a strong Māori component. Social and cultural components will be integrated with community focused biophysical research in a process aimed at developing better management guidelines. The research will explore how biosolids nutrients can add value to amended soils without compromising cultural, social, environmental and, economic values. The research aims to help overcome
immediate barriers preventing beneficial use of biosolids.

Click here [PDF, 638 KB] to read the article in full published in WaterNZ.

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