Department of Environmental Conservation

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Land Application

 Land application is the management of organic wastes where the material is applied directly to agricultural fields as a source of nutrients and/or to improve soil quality, reducing the need for commercial fertilizers. methods include direct application to the soil surface or injection to the upper layer of the soil.

Truck injecting whey into upper layer of soil
Land application of whey via injection to the upper layer of soil

Benefits of Land Application

Land application of organic materials provides valuable nutrients to help organically enrich soils and restores the opportunity for improved plant growth. The beneficial use of these materials not only serves to provide an effective soil amendment, but also diverts thousands of tons of material from disposal.

Organic Materials that can be Land Applied

Common land applied materials include:

  • Manure;
  • Biosolids;
  • Septage (waste from septic tanks and portable toilets);
  • Food Processing Wastes (e.g., dairy whey, grape pomace, brewery wastes); and
  • Composting Toilet Residuals

Land Application Regulations

Land application operations in New York State are regulated by NYCRR Subpart 361-2 in one of three ways: exempt, registered or permitted. Regulation of land application facilities depend on the location, quantity and type of material land applied.

Summary of Land Application Regulations (by quantity and type of material)

How to apply for a land application registration or permit

The greatest potential risks to human health and the environment can occur with the direct land application of biosolids and septage due to contact with disease bearing mirco-organisms known as pathogens. Because of these risks, land application of biosolids and septage requires establishment of sound permitting conditions to protect human health, animals and soil health.

In accordance with the regulations, regulated land application facilities are required to submit an annual report to the Department by March 1st of every year.

Storage of Organic Materials to be Land Applied

Storage of certain materials destined for land application is regulated to prevent environmental damage from leaking tanks or runoff. Commonly stored materials include manure, food processing waste, septage, and a combination of manure and food scraps.

Storage facilities for material to be land applied in New York State are regulated by NYCRR Subpart 361-2 in one of three ways: exempt, registered or permitted. Regulation of storage facilities depend on the location, quantity and type of material stored for land application.

Summary of Storage Regulations (by quantity and type of material)

How to apply for a storage registration or permit

In accordance with the regulations, regulated land application facilities are required to submit an annual report to the Department by March 1st of every year.

Composting Toilets

Installing a Composting Toilet

The NYS Department of Health regulates the installation of residential onsite systems including composting toilets. For design, construction and maintenance guidance of onsite treatment systems see the Residential Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Design Handbook. Before installing a composting toilet, check with your local health department for local rules and regulations.

Due to potential exposure to pathogens, it is recommended that homeowners do not personally remove material from composting toilets and instead arrange for a septage waste hauler to empty the composting toilet on a periodic basis.

Land Application of Composting Toilet Residuals

Composting toilet residuals (liquid and solids) are considered septage and may be land applied. The land application of composting toilet residuals is regulated under 361-2.3(d) and the storage of composting toilet residuals for later land application is regulated under 361-2.3(e). In order to land apply composting toilet residuals you must obtain a Solid Waste Management Facility registration from DEC.