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No Sludge Allowed in Organic Standards

What is sludge and why is it bad?

By Thomas J. Fox

shoe stuck in sludge

Photo courtesy of USFWS

Sludge, basically solid waste from industrial wastewater and sewage treatment plants, cannot be used as a fertilizer on organic foods.

Excerpt from Urban Farming by Thomas J. Fox with permission from its publisher, Hobby Farm Press, an imprint of BowTie Press. Purchase Urban Farming here

The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program is what regulates standards for any farm, wild crop harvesting, or handling operations wanting to sell its agricultural products as organically produced.

The standards for labeling a product “organic” include that the “agricultural product cannot be produced using excluded methods, sewage sludge or ionizing radiation.” What is sludge? It is defined as a “solid, semi-solid or liquid residue generated during the treatment of domestic sewage in a treatment works.”

Organic farmers use animal manure, so why not human? The reason is that much of our sewage combines residential and industrial waste, resulting in contamination by substances such as mercury, lead and dioxins.
Give us your opinion on No Sludge Allowed in Organic Standards.
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Good to know
a', Houston, TX
Posted: 9/3/2013 4:04:15 AM
It would seem that it should be allowed to be used if it's processed properly. What a waste of waste!
Galadriel, Lothlorien, ME
Posted: 3/2/2013 11:56:51 PM
It makes me feel sick that sludge could be in inorganic things. But the chemicals in inorganic things are probably just as bad.
Harrison, Dayton, TN
Posted: 7/17/2012 2:43:10 PM
Humanure is entirely different from sludge. With humanure, you can control the content and the ratio of manure to wood fiber in the process. It also doesn't have the metals and residual chemicals in it that sludge has. It also doesn't smell. I've never been around sludge that didn't just plain stink. It's not worth the hassle.

The best thing to do with the sludge is to pass it through a worm. Once the solids have been treated and gone through a hot compost, have earthworms process it further. You will find that the harmful metal content will be greatly reduced.
Bruce, Las Vegas, NV
Posted: 10/5/2011 10:14:35 AM

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