Sally Brown
Ryan Batjiaka with the petunias he has used to study how biosolids can be used to help create soil in which the plants will grow. (Sally Brown)

Ryan Batjiaka has been spending a lot of time with cucumbers, radishes and petunias. At least the soil the plants are housed in.

The work done by Batjiaka, a soil researcher working with SEFS research professor Sally Brown, was featured in a story in The Washington Post about how scientists can recycle sewer waste into garden soil. That is, provided it doesn’t have a bad smell.

Batjiaka has been “working to find a soil recipe that not only ‘improves plant growth with the proper amount of nutrients'” but also smells and looks good, the story says.  He and his colleagues have been testing soil mixes from those petunia, cucumber and radish plants.

“They each need nutrients in varying amounts to grow best,” the story went on to say. “What none of them needs are materials that are decomposing (decaying), which make compounds that are toxic to plants. They also smell bad to humans.”

Read the full story here.