Environmentally Friendly Fertilizer: Garden Time Features Clean Water Grow

 

Join Willilam McClenathan of Garden Time in Hillsboro, Oregon as he learns about the resource recovery process behind Clean Water Grow Plant Food.



William McClenathan:

Well I am in Hillsboro at Clean Water Services and I am standing in this wonderfully unique building with Brett here. Brett, this is a place that is doing a lot of resource recovery and from that, that science and logic, comes a type of fertilizer. So I want to know about this, but really I want to know first of all what is this product, what is it made of, and then how does that process come into being?

Brett Laney:

Yeah, the product itself is called Crystal Green, that’s what we make here on site. We also have a commercial product called Clean Water Grow that we’re distributing locally. The Crystal Green itself is a very, very pure type of fertilizer, so this is unlike any phosphorus based fertilizer or slow-release fertilizers that you may see in stores. It actually only releases its nutrients when the roots need it.

McClenathan:

So I would love to hear about this process of where it comes from and how it happens.

Laney:

Sure, so here at this facility we treat about 35 million gallons of wastewater every day. When that wastewater comes in our main purpose is to separate out what humans have put into that water, and take it out of the water and make the water clean again.

But all those solids that we remove we have to do something with. So we take those solids and we put them in an anaerobic digester where they breakdown and become a usable bio solid that can be land applied, you know for fertilizer on fields. But the byproduct of that is all this water that we squeeze out of those bio solids, so this water that comes out of the bio solids still has a lot of nutrients in it. It’s got a lot of ammonia, lots of phosphorus. So traditionally, we’d have to be really careful about recycling and retreating that water here at the site.

With this process, this Ostara process, we can take that high strength side stream waste, put it into these fluidized bed reactors, and inside the fluidized bed reactors, if get the PH right, you can actually precipitate out what is called struvite. And these little struvite pellets are just magnesium, ammonia and phosphorus, in a 1 to 1 to 1 ratio. These little fertilizer pearls that we make in these reactors are actually a more pure source of phosphorus-based fertilizer than the stuff we traditionally get out of the ground, say in Florida, at the phosphate mines.

McClenathan:

Because from the ground, there’s other stuff that is happening there, here’s it’s through a very clean system.

Laney:

It’s a very controlled chemical reaction that only leaves room for those three constituents.

McClenathan:

So once these come out, then where do they go?

Laney:

So these guys will come out of the reactor, and go our fluidized bed dryer, and that fluidized bed dryer will use waste heat that we have generated here on site to heat the air to dry the product, and then we’ll fill these one ton sacks, off to fertilizer blender and then on to the end user.

McClenathan:

The fascinating thing here is speaking of fertilizers, now we’re going to go visit a native nursery and they actually use this growing their natives and sending them out where they place them, so thank you so much, this is fascinating I really appreciate your time.

Laney:

Thank you for coming.


McClenathan:

Ok now we have come over to a native nursery, and first of all I’m going to talk with you Mac. Tell me about how this is the product in its retail packaging, right?

Mac Martin:

That’s right. So we take the Crystal Green that you saw being produced at the Rock Creek Treatment Plant and we mix it with a slow-release nitrogen source and potash so we have a full spectrum, all-purpose plant food called Clean Water Grow.

McClenathan:

And the reason that you really like this is because its different than what fertilizers are especially where there’s watershed’s and rivers involved.

Martin:    

So we don’t experience any leaching or run-off with this product which makes it perfect for a situation where you’re close to a stream or lake. And it is more completely used than regular fertilizers.

McClenathan:

And it is more completely used than regular fertilizers.

Martin:

That’s right. Up to 80% of the actual fertilizer material is taken up by the plant.

McClenathan:

Nice. And so now I’m going to switch over here to Bruce. Bruce how are you?

Roll:

Very good, thank you.

McClenathan:

So now tell me who you are and what part you play in this.

Roll:

I am the director of watershed management for Clean Water Services and you are out at the Tualatin River Farm that serves as a staging area for our native plant giveaway with all the twelve cities of Washington County.

McClenathan:   

Nice.

Roll:

So you look at fifty-two different varieties of native plants out here and these go out to all of our city partners every year to be planted.

McClenathan:

And there is a lot of things you do besides just have the nursery here. Some of this stuff here you do grow, some you bring in, but it’s all native for this area?

Roll:

It’s all native, and GROW has found it’s niche in helping get these plants off to the right start. That phosphorus source helps the roots get really strong, so that when we transfer them into their new homes they will be much stronger and vigorous.

McClenathan:

And you really like this product because you really have to pay attention to everything that affects the whole culture of this area natively, don’t you?

Roll:

Right. And like the program that we do where we are planting these riparian areas with native plants, we’re looking for solutions that are local, locally derived, sustainable and help create a resilient watershed. So linking the fertilizer with our native plant propagation is a natural fit, in terms of moving the whole circle from, you know, beginning to end.

McClenathan:

And you’re very comfortable now that you know that the effect you’re having is a positive one, it’s really doing good changes long term.

Roll:

It’s amazing. You know this program paired with the Tree For All program has done more than 2 million plants in one year, and over a million every year, and that’s a reflection of people’s passion for the environment as well as the desire to plant these plants throughout the basin.

McClenathan:

Well you know one of things I love about Oregon is how much we care about our nature itself and what we do to it, and the effect we have on it. So for more information on any of these things, you can go to gardentime.tv. We’ll click you to the appropriate websites and give out all the information you need. And then pickup some GROW for yourself. Thank you gentlemen.

Roll:

Thank you.

Martin:

Thank you.


 
Arbor Fessler