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Shoreline septic systems deserve a closer look

By: Karl Czymmek

Most of the unusable phosphorus (P) excreted by dairy cattle is contained in their feces, and much of this P is in undigested feed particles that rumen microbes could not unlock. Unlike cows, 2/3 of the P excreted by humans is in our urine, and this P is highly bioavailable, meaning our “P” is readily available to plants. While we may not be commercially harvesting human urine for fertilizer anytime soon, some of it may very well be an important fertilizer for organisms such as cyanobacteria (AKA: blue-green algae) and nuisance weeds that live in our lakes.

In terms of total pounds of P, shoreline septic systems are a small part of P input to lakes, but a number of factors may contribute to underestimating its role in these systems. Shoreline septic systems are by definition, very close to the water’s edge, and septic leach fields may be located in or near unsuitable soil and bedrock that make it easy for this P to find its way into surface water. Additionally, the possibility that more people are spending more time living in lakeshore homes, adds another level of difficulty into quantifying these potential inputs.

Read the full article “Protecting our lakes: shore line septic system concerns” online.


    PRO-DAIRY e-Alert
    July 17, 2017


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