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  • Milorganite

    It seems like a good cheap organic fertilizer but question of safety seems to get mixed reviews. It doesn't seem like any of the concerns are based on actual problems that can be proven but rather on what if scenarios. Anyone use milorganite or refuse to use it? Any thoughts?
    Don - OH Zone 6a Wish list: Zaffiro, Moro de Caneva, Nerucciolo d'Elba, Bordissot Blanca Negra

  • #2
    Refuse, I've never used it and have a problem with the idea that its made from "microbes that digest" processed sewage and industrial sludge.

    I've always used the fertilizer registration database when comparing commercially available fertilizers,http://agr.wa.gov/PestFert/Fertilize.../Product1.aspx and according to the listed info milorganite doesn't have any really excessive amounts of heavy metals,http://agr.wa.gov/PestFert/Fertilize...spx?pname=1645, compared to Miracle-Gro All purpose, http://agr.wa.gov/PestFert/Fertilize...spx?pname=2121 or Espoma Garden-tone,http://agr.wa.gov/PestFert/Fertilize...spx?pname=4834.
    Last edited by AscPete; 03-27-2016, 10:23 AM.
    Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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    • don_sanders
      don_sanders commented
      Editing a comment
      Is that just because of the "ick factor?"

    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      No, I've no problems with excrement, its a natural product.
      Although the Milorganite is heat treated I still have problems with the thought of industrial waste contaminants.

    • don_sanders
      don_sanders commented
      Editing a comment
      Gotcha. They seem to do a lot of regular testing on it but I guess there are always things they wouldn't know to test for.

  • #3
    I just don't see a problem. I've used it off an on for many years and it seems to really add a boost to young plants.
    Nothing in the world takes the place of growing citrus till figs come along. Ray City, Ga. Zone 8 b.

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    • #4
      My philosophy is, if worms will live in and eat it, it's probably ok. Definitely ok after worms have thoroughly worked it into castings. In my thirteen years of waste water treatment, I did a lot of experimenting with sludge and found the best to be fresh mixed with sawdust and composted, then worked over by worms. In the last three years of my time there, we got a new facility and sludge was pressed, using a polymer dewatering agent. Worms wouldn't touch it. They would mass exodus the material. I wouldn't use it.

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      • don_sanders
        don_sanders commented
        Editing a comment
        That's interesting because a couple of people seem to have thought that it actually increased their worm populations. Think it could have had something to do with the ph? I saw conflicting reports of it being slightly acidic to down to the 4-5 range.
        Last edited by don_sanders; 03-28-2016, 08:53 AM. Reason: Lots of typos.

      • Charlie
        Charlie commented
        Editing a comment
        I was saying I wouldn't use ours after my worm findings. It could have been the specific polymer we used. I don't have a clue how Milwaukee processes their sludge. I might get a bag of that and do some tests.

      • AscPete
        AscPete commented
        Editing a comment
        Raw sludge may also have Pharmaceutical Contaminants, which have been discovered in recent years....
        The Milorganite is alleged to be the heat treated (over 900 deg F) microbes that actually feed on the sludge...

    • #5
      Don't we have the same industrial contaminant and pharmaceutical risk with our drinking water? If the trace amounts are an issue, it seems like that would likely be higher risk than what might be in a fertilizer.

      Milwaukee, for example, dumps all of the waste water into lake Michigan which I would imagine makes its way down to my tap.
      Don - OH Zone 6a Wish list: Zaffiro, Moro de Caneva, Nerucciolo d'Elba, Bordissot Blanca Negra

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    • #6
      It has been tested and has no more or even less heavy metals than regular fertilizer. Now approved for use on veggies. I use it for lawn fertilizer. I have had the greenest lawn on the block for years. The stuff works great for lawns. And I don't worry about spill overs in the garden.
      Also the type of plants may influence any exposures. Some plants refuse to take up heavy metals, most soils contain lead, and your plants could concentrate it, if they picked it up, most do not. Some plants do, I heard cat tails will. Which can act as cleaning agents for an area, get rid of the dead cat tails, and remove contaminants from the area. I see in the above post a link to the milorganite site is given. Looks super safe actually!

      Also I would like to add my dog tears up grass. I moved a section of grass for an area I wanted a raised bed to go. Normally I would just leave the grass and bury it, but I needed it for bald patches from my dog. The grass at the roots was totally loaded with worms, and I have used this product on my grass for 3 years, so the worms seem to be fine with it. It's not really evidence, just observation in one site, but yes, I never seen this many worms here before, they do seem to have increased, and increased a lot.
      Last edited by drew51; 03-29-2016, 12:00 AM.

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      • Harborseal
        Harborseal commented
        Editing a comment
        Happiest worms on the planet.

      • Hukeixn
        Hukeixn commented
        Editing a comment
        I quite agree with you.
        I am a manufacturer of separators for farm use. I know deeply that some animal manure is not suitable for fertilizer.
        For example, I have a chicken farm customer who bought my manure separator(https://www.zhehanfilter.com/solid-l...g-machine.html) and sold it to the farm. But his chicken feed contains a lot of drugs, so chicken manure also contains a lot of drugs.
        I don't think it's safe.

    • #7
      My only concern about the use of milogranite on fruits and veggies is about contaminants especially hospital (pathogens and drugs) waste, pharmaceuticals waste and heavy metals in the sewage. There are some pathogen that tolerate high heat and many chemicals that don't easily decompose.
      Zone 8B, Texas

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      • don_sanders
        don_sanders commented
        Editing a comment
        The heavy metals, at least the ones they test for, don't concern me as they are quite low. Most likely less than your existing soil. The other unknowns like pharmaceuticals, etc?

    • #8
      did you all know that it changes the color on hydragenas (sp)

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      • #9
        Originally posted by lilfiggy View Post
        did you all know that it changes the color on hydragenas (sp)
        Yes, from the sulfur in the product, which changes the pH. They should go from pink to blue.
        The contamination is in everything. Herbicides and hormones in compost, mercury in fish, etc. I guess the only pure stuff is pure synthetic chemicals.
        We need to try and keep the environment as clean as possible.
        Again about the pharmaceuticals, one they have to be present, two the plants you're growing have to take them up, many refuse to do so. The molecules are way too large to be absorbed in many cases. Like organic fertilizer bacteria and fungi need to break down the fertilizer for the plant to be able to take up the nutrients. We could develop bacteria that break down pharmaceuticals. If the product is heat treated that also is going to destroy many large pharmaceutical molecules.
        If you feel it is risky don't use it, but don't be fooled thinking a product like Plant-tone is not also full of contaminants, as it very well could be.
        I remember when Xylene was found in large amount in bottled water, besides many plastic molecules that leech into it.
        Last edited by drew51; 03-30-2016, 11:27 AM.

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        • #10
          I have heard that the pharmaceuticals could affect the worms but people that have used it at least report that there are plenty of worms there.

          I think I'm going to give Milorganite a try. It sounds relatively safe to me...at least no worse than my other possible areas of exposure.

          I wonder...Would a worm in soil contaminated with Viagra still be able to wiggle? lol
          Don - OH Zone 6a Wish list: Zaffiro, Moro de Caneva, Nerucciolo d'Elba, Bordissot Blanca Negra

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          • #11
            I haven't studied it that much but I never understood how it could be classified as organic, people put all kinds of stuff down their drains
            Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana
            Buffalo WV Z6

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            • #12
              There does seem to be some gray area about it being "Organic."

              Biosolids including Milorganite are not certified for use on USDA organic farms.

              Milorganite says it is composed of heat-dried microbes that have digested the organic matter in wastewater.

              The label says "Organic Nitrogen" which seems like it might be more than a little misleading.

              One of the videos
              on the Milorganite site mentions that "The process by which the fertilizer is made disqualifies it as being an organic product. ...The EPA puts it in its own category. Not necessarily an organic product but has organic constituents."

              On the flip side, organic chicken manure contained in Plant tone would most likely contain inorganic products like pesticides and certainly antibiotics/pharmaceuticals fed to the chickens as well.


              Don - OH Zone 6a Wish list: Zaffiro, Moro de Caneva, Nerucciolo d'Elba, Bordissot Blanca Negra

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              • #13
                That makes since, organic but not really. I guess I would use it on my lawn if I would fertilize it
                Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana
                Buffalo WV Z6

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                • #14
                  The microbes they mention are present everywhere in nature. A waste water treatment plant simply creates an environment for them to multiply on a huge scale while providing them with all the food they need and then some. What we call sludge is actually the dead microbes and indigestible solids left over from the processes. You can create your own by throwing grass clippings into a big tub full of water, add and handfull of dirt, a bit of molasses and aerate it for some days. Compost tea sound familiar? It's the same thing, same aerobic process, same microbes. The foam you see that forms on the surface after a time are dying microbes. Cheaper than anything you can buy and you know what's going into it if you know what's been used on the grass.

                  Some processes incorporate anaerobic settling tanks. This is where different microbes (nasties) do some digesting that aerobic microbes don't. This is the stinky, black, sewer smelling stuff. I prefer aerobic processes. You don't need anything anaerobic where gardening is concerned.

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                  • Harborseal
                    Harborseal commented
                    Editing a comment
                    That's exactly what I do with my bathtub.

                • #15
                  Another test

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                  • Harborseal
                    Harborseal commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Who is this trying to impersonate the big cheese?

                • #16
                  All manure is good fertilizer even store bought chicken or cow may and often do have long term glaphostphats(sorry for the spelling) milorganite is safe but I use it sparingly

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                  • #17
                    My husband did a ton of research on Milorganite after one of his customers, a grounds manager at a local golf course, told him about it. He's been using it on the lawn for two years and we now have one of the healthiest lawns in the neighborhood. However, I stick with vegetable and garden fertilizers for my edibles.
                    “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
                    – Source Unknown
                    MA 5b/6a

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                    • #18
                      It stinks, it smells like sewage, I picked up a couple bags and put them in one of our sheds, the racoons came in and shredded the bags looking for something to eat or someplace to poop, not sure, we will never get that sewer stink out, so many other alternatives that dont smell like raw sewage
                      WV Harpers Ferry Zone 6b

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                      • #19
                        Sounds like $h*t, literally

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                        • #20
                          fascinating how some savy entrepreners got people to payhard cash for their bowel movements! and from what see on the signs at the garden stores, lots of cash. Here I get FREE fresh manure from nearby farmers, compost it mixedwith leaves, grass clippings, food scraps, rotten wood and other dead organic matter and then use in my garden and on fruit trees. cost is whatever gas takes to farmer and back and I get entire pickup truck bed full.Most places theres some sort of horse stable, dairy cow OP, where manure is available .would never pay anyone even ten bucks for sack of @@@@
                          Z8A NC SANDHILLS

                          WISH LIST ZAFFIRO, THERMOLITO

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                          • drew51
                            drew51 commented
                            Editing a comment
                            I live in the suburbs of Detroit, and no way to get manure anywhere close. Maybe 35 miles away, just too far, and I have no way to haul it, and they won't drive 70 miles round trip to sell such a small amount. Ten bucks seem cheap Holly-Tone is 20 bucks.

                        • #21
                          maybe manure's not your best choice. BUT at walmart here they sell a large bag of cow manure called BLACK KOW some here say s composted and works great in their mixes. Was less than 10bucks I believe here.
                          Z8A NC SANDHILLS

                          WISH LIST ZAFFIRO, THERMOLITO

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