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Biosolids in Australian horticulture - an untapped resource?

Surapaneni, A., Smith, D., Wilkinson, K.G., Stevens, D., Darvodelsky, P.
Acta horticulturae 2014 no.1018 pp. 639-652
best management practices, bioavailability, biosolids, cattle, environmental impact, food production, food quality, forage, grazing, guidelines, horticulture, human health, industry, land application, poultry manure, quality control, sheep, stigma, Australia, United States
There is currently very limited use of biosolids in Australian horticulture, though it is more widely used in the cropping, cattle grazing, sheep grazing and fodder industries. We review the international scientific literature which documents potential productivity increases from the horticultural use of biosolids and a range of improvements to soil physical, chemical and biological conditions. A significant body of research has also addressed metal bioavailability, food quality, and environment impacts. Despite these findings, the stigma attached to the use of biosolids in food production is probably the main barrier to the beneficial use of biosolids in horticulture today. Greater utilization of biosolids is also not helped by the lack of regulation governing the land application of other organic wastes like poultry litter. In the US there have been no known negative human health impacts documented when biosolids meet US federal regulations and have been applied to land under best management practices. With the right quality control systems in place, assured product quality and the prospect of a revision of metal guidelines as a result of recent Australian research, biosolids could become an attractive alternative fertilizer and organic amendment for use in Australian horticulture.