South East Water lead the way in biosolids research

South East Water (SEW) are leading the way with their biosolids research project, in partnership with the Soil Cooperative Research Centre (SCRC) and Newcastle University.

Their project is in line with Intelligent Water Networks (IWN) values and has been trialling the injection of biosolids in liquid form to improve soil structure, fertility and function at their Longwarry Water Recycling Plant.

This trial has produced a crop of summer forage sorghum that was grown under dryland conditions. SEW recently celebrated the success of the crop by hosting an open day at the plant, which was attended by over 100 industry professionals and researchers.

EPA Victoria have also approved the request to undertake the trial through their research and development pathway, which could have real ramifications for the regulations surrounding the use of biosolids for agriculture in the future.

The addition of nutrients developed from waste can help to improve farmer productivity and profitability throughout Australia. Currently only T1 grade biosolids in liquid form can be used on crops, but the research aims to prove that T2 or T3 grade biosolids is appropriate for use as well.

This would give his huge and cost efficiencies to the industry, and any successful outcomes could influence legislature surrounding the use of T2 and T3 biosolids in liquid form for agriculture. It’s an incredible exciting project and one that the IWN is excited about.

Talking about the project, IWN Biosolids and Resource Recovery program lead Christine Grundy said: “The South East Water subsurface biosolids liquid injection trials at Longwarry demonstrate the value that our traditional waste products can have for the community and for the economy. 

“The soil improvements that this process generates offers a great opportunity for water utilities to offer a valuable product to farmers with demonstrated results.  This also demonstrates the benefit of collaboration across sectors; finding a cost effective way for biosolids to move from being a problem in one industry to being a solution in another is the core objective of the IWN Biosolids group.”