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Australian farmers are using human waste as fertilizer. And it's working.



It may sound gross, but some Australian farmers are using human waste as fertilizer to revitalize their land. And it's working.

"It just keeps responding, you might get five millimeters of rain and it just starts producing. There was absolutely nothing here and now you can sort of walk through here and you'll see little birds."
Gordon Nash, sheep farmer

The bio-solids have become particularly important this year. According to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology, Australia experienced its hottest winter on record. That, coupled with frequent frosts, have made it difficult for farmers to grow their crops.

But the sewage sludge is more than a simple fertilizer. It's also good for the environment. That's because plant operators are able to make use of an often-ignored waste product.

"We beneficially reuse 100 percent of the bio solids that we generate every year, so that's about 180,000 tons of solid matter," said Gavin Landers of Sydney Water.

As it's being processed throughout the reactors, the human waste also generates methane gas, a source of energy used to power the plant.

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The unorthodox fertilizer is being distributed across nearly 23 farms across the country.

Stuart Kelly swapped his synthetic fertilizers for the bio solids about five years ago. While he says the sewage product gets him some raised eyebrows, he says his farm has never been healthier.

"Yeah we get a bit of that, but as long as they keep producing it, we'll keep taking it," Kelly continued.

Authorities say they understand people's hesitation to use human waste to grow the crops they eat. But agronomist Roger Crisp says there's no cause for concern.

"The system is very well-controlled and regulated and there's been no reports at all of any adverse impacts," he added.

Can you tell the difference between real and alternative facts?

Check out more of Circa's coverage of environmental innovation:
Cambodia's first drone company offers farers a safer and more profitable way to do their jobs
A 23-year-old college dropout has big plans to rid the oceans of plastic waste
This company offers customers healthy greens--and employee ownership opportunities

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