City looks to get rid of sludge as alternative to fertilizer

Farmers have been dealing with rising input costs, including for fertilizer.

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Bags of sludge can be seen at the Jamestown wastewater treatment plant. The sludge can be used as an alternative to fertilizer.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

JAMESTOWN — The city of Jamestown is looking to get rid of its sludge and biosolids for free to local farmers to use as an alternative to fertilizer from its wastewater treatment plant just west of the landfill.

About 4 to 5 million gallons of sludge will need to be removed from the site by this fall, said Ron Olson, wastewater treatment plant operator four, which is the lead operator. He said the content of the sludge is nitrogen and comes from the potato waste from Cavendish Farms.

“I can’t tell you what it looks like because I never cut one of those bags open,” he said. “It’s probably dry mud now. With all the rain and stuff in there, I suppose it’s pretty liquidy.”

If a local farmer does not want the sludge, it will most likely go to the landfill, said Syed Sajid Ahmad, utility operations manager at the wastewater treatment plant.

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Syed Sjid Ahmad, utility operations manager at the Jamestown wastewater treatment plant, talks about the plant producing millions of gallons of sludge.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

Farmers have been dealing with rising input costs, including for fertilizer. The Jamestown Sun previously reported one farmer saying urea fertilizer costing about $900 to $1,000 per ton this year, which is up from about $300 per ton, and anhydrous increasing from $700 to $800 per ton to about $1,500 per ton.


Each bag of sludge is about 50 yards long and 10 yards wide. Olson said the bags will need to be cut open and a payloader will load it on a truck that can hold liquid content without leaking.

“We deliver it,” he said. “We have two semis and a tanker.”

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Ron Olson
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

He said Jarred Gasal, whose farm is about 7 miles east of Jamestown, usually accepted the sludge for a field. But with the precipitation this spring, Gasal will need to get in the fields as soon as possible and plant them.

“They pretty much bend backwards for me,” Olson said. “Without the Gasal farm, we would be in trouble.”

Olson said 150 tillable acres is needed for 4.5 million gallons of sludge. He said he can apply about 1,000 gallons per minute at 1.5 mph with a Terra-Gator 2505.

“It is all liquid form by the time it gets out of here,” he said. “It is kind of thick and watery. Water will settle down and sludge will stay on top. When it dries up, probably about one and half days later they (farmer) will come and dig it in the field.”

Olson said the Gasals usually planted corn and soybeans on the fields that had the sludge applied to them. He said he has seen corn planted in the fields that were thick and tall.

For more information about the sludge, call Ahmad at 252-9149.

Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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