In a sense, you could call it the Circle of Life: treated human waste, known as Biosolids, being applied to help grow the very crops we eat.
The company, Synagro, that's working with the Ironwood township board in applying this fertilizer, says the process is completely safe.
??It??s all regulated by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality,?? said Travis Blasi, with Synagro Technologies. ??The soil all gets tested; the Biosolids themselves are analyzed at the facility before they're ever land-applied. We know exactly what a crop needs in order to produce good crop and we apply it at a targeted rate needed for the crop.??
The biosolids come from the Ojibway Correctional Facility in Marenisco, and since it's state-owned, Michigan pays Synagro, making the fertilizer free for area landowners. The Biosolids are not raw sewage and have been treated for at least 14 years. The first application by Synagro was this past fall, where the fertilizer was inserted underneath the ground, and landowners say they can tell the difference in their crop.
??When the manure's been applied, you can see the growth is a little bit taller and where it hasn't been, the beans are a little bit shorter,?? said area landowner, Tom Hampston.
One field is owned by the township, and it is located right near the cemetery. Although there have been some complaints online about its proximity to the cemetery, township supervisor Alan Baron says no one has complained to his office yet.
??We have not received any complaints in this office about what's going on,?? Baron said. ??The calls we get is 'What are all these trucks??? There's more truck traffic.??
Though the topic of applying treated human waste may seem unappealing, the land application of Biosolids is really nothing new.
??Over 60 percent of the country's Biosolids are actually land-applied and it's been going on since the Clean Water Act of the 1970's,?? Blasi said.
Athlough the Biosolids have been proven and tested to be safe, it doesn't always guarantee fresh-smelling air nearby when it's being applied.
??It smells for one or two days, and then it disappears,?? Hamptson said. ??You can smell it, but it's not that bad.??
The company and township supervisor claim the process is much safer than chemical fertilizers, and is a very natural option.