Over time, agricultural lands lose their nutritional content every time crops are harvested. Farmers have had to rely on fertilizers to boost the nutrient levels in the soil but it can get expensive to maintain. Fortunately, a couple of cities in British Columbia have developed a cheaper and more natural alternative.The cities of Kelowna and Vernon have been transforming biosolids into a product called OgoGrow Biosolids Fertilizer.
OgoGrow is made by combining biosolids, hog fuel (unrefined mix of coarse chips of bark and wood fibre) from local lumber mills, and wood ash. OgoGrow was developed to meet the government standards for compost so it can be safely applied to flowers, shrubs and vegetable gardens.
OgoGrow boosts the nutrients in the soil and is also able to enhance water absorption. This is particularly useful during the summer months, when the soil retains its moisture yet can drain away any excess water so plants won’t be inundated. OgoGrow also acts as a soil amendment because of its composition of organic matter and plant nutrients. These are what gave it the classification of a Class A compost and why it is popular with Okanagan gardeners, landscaping companies and construction contractors.
Since its introduction in 1995, the demand for OgoGrow Biosolids Fertilizer was so great that it was always running in short supply. There were waiting lists for OgoGrow which was produced by the cities at a rate of 30,000 to 50,000 yards per year. It generated revenue for the cities and kept biosolids from being dumped into local landfills. Sales of OgoGrow brought in around $500,000 annually.
OgoGrow has been used for more than just fertilizer. Nature’s Gold, a company based in Kelowna, purchases more than half of what the cities produce and then sells the end product to individuals, golf courses, nurseries and landscape supply centers.
Through the years, the supply of OgoGrow has been able to meet demand and now the cities of Kelowna and Vernon are exploring other means streamlining its production and marketing it to new, untapped markets.
A few challenges needed to be overcome however. Despite the addition of wood chips and ash that help make OgoGrow’s odor less offensive, steps still had to be taken to ensure that the community will not be bothered by the stench during its production. The cities addressed this by relocating the plants to a different area and adding more wood chips to delay decomposition.
In an effort to give OgoGrow greater exposure and educate the community on its benefits, the cities of Kelowna and Vernon conducted an online survey to collect residents’ input on the issues surrounding the complex issue of biosolids production.
The city plans to use the community feedback along with technical and market assessments to help them maximize the market potential of OgoGrow Biosolids Fertilizer and help them reach a much broader customer base spanning beyond Kelowna and Vernon.
If you are a farmer in the Niagara Region and are interested in considering biosolids as a potential application to your fields, please call us on 1 (877) 479-1388. There is no cost for us to apply to the MOE or to spread biosolids on your field. These costs are covered by the Region of Niagara.