FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) - The city of Fayetteville is selling human waste as fertilizer, as a way to keep waste out of landfills, and keep up with the high demand of local farmers.
Every day, Fayetteville's two wastewater treatment plants take 2-3 trucks of solid waste to the Biosolid Management Site in south Fayetteville. The human waste is brought in on semi-trailers, then poured into one of the six solar houses to dry. After a week, the mostly dry material is put into a thermal dryer powered by natural gas to complete the drying process and kill human pathogens.
"The biosolids sit in the thermal dryer and come in contact with the outside wall and the inside rotor heats up the solids and cooks off the pathogens," Tim Luther said.
Luther is the manager at the site, and said once the process is complete the fertilizer is safe to sell as a Class A fertilizer. He said turning the waste into fertilizer means cutting down on the amount that goes to landfill--- and the cost to ship the waste to a landfill. Luther said for every 20 tons of human waste that comes into his facility, three tons of organic fertilizer comes out.
Twice a year, the Biosolid Management Site opens a list for interested buyers to call in and place an order. Securing a spot on the list does not guarantee the buyer will get the fertilizer--- but if people don't put their names on the list, they aren't able to purchase the product at all. On Tuesday, 52 callers put their names on the list for over 4,000 pounds of fertilizer.
"In a normal six-month period, like for this call in, we produced approximately 1300 tons...so the demand is a lot greater than we can produce," Luther said.
Fayetteville farmer Stacy Cheevers said he started buying from the site three years ago when the operation started.
"Several years back commercial fertilizers got very expensive," The beef cattle farmer said, "So we were looking for a lower cost alternative."
Cheevers said he used to spend between $300-$400 dollars per ton for commercial fertilizers. He said he placed an order this year for 20 tons at $50 each.
"It's a little less in nutrient value, but it's a balanced fertilizer," Cheevers said.
The whole process takes between 8-10 days to turn human waste into an organic fertilizer. The price for the fertilizer is as follows:
- Small bulk (1/4 tons to 1 ton) - $80 per ton.
- Medium bulk ( >1 ton to 20 tons) - $50 per ton.
- Large bulk ( >20 tons to 100 tons) - $20 per ton.
Those interested in buying can add their name to the commitment list by calling 479-444-0717 between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.