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Biosolids Benefits on Semi-Arid Central Oregon Agriculture

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Madison Farms is a fourth-generation farming operation that covers 17,500 acres. Class B biosolids from the City of Portland, Oregon, have been beneficially recycled at Madison Farms since 1990. Biosolids amendment has improved soil quality; increased forage production and quality; and increased grazing capacity. Biosolids have also been successfully used to stabilize previously unvegetated sandy soils areas historically plagued by wind erosion, converting them to productive range and farm land as well as wildlife habitat.

In addition to traditional crop and soil benefits apparent following biosolids land application, atmospheric green house gas (CO2) fixation has been recognized at Madison Farms via increased soil carbon and biomass storage. Carbon emitted from diesel consumed to haul and apply biosolids is roughly eight times less than that captured from the atmosphere and sequestered as stored soil organic carbon or converted into crops and livestock.

With the regional interest in using alternative carbon-neutral fuels, Madison Farms expanded its use of biosolids to fertilize canola. Economics of growing and marketing canola resulted in a branded local product-OregonGrown Biodiesel and high quality meal (livestock feed). The use of locally produced biodiesel further improves the carbon footprint for the City of Portland and Madison Farms. By recognizing and using both the carbon and nutrient benefits of biosolids, this recycling program is demonstrating a route to sustainable agriculture.
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Keywords: beneficial use; biodiesel; carbon sequestration; fertilizer; land application; soil amendment; sustainable

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-01-01

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