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Wastewater and paper-mill treatment plants must test their sludge annually for 186 potential contaminants before it can earn state approvals to be used for fertilizer.

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Robert Melanson loads biosolid sludge into a spreader driven by Ben Gallagher at Pritchard Farm in Pembroke on April 27.

With high energy prices and Russian embargos pushing up fertilizer costs, New Hampshire farmers are returning to a homegrown nutrient source — sludge generated from wastewater treatment plants across the state.

The state’s only sludge hauler-processor has run out of its Class A product, a biosolid that contains fewer pathogens and is less regulated than the Class B product.

In the cab

Robert Melanson of RMI operates a tractor while spreading sludge at Pritchard Farm in Pembroke on April 27, 2022.

Spreading

Bill Pritchard, left, speaks with Ben Gallagher of RMI while taking a break from spreading biosolids at Pritchard Farm in Pembroke on April 27, 2022.

Checking a field

Eryka Reid of Resource Management Inc. and Anthony Drouin of the state Department of Environmental Services walk through a corn field at Pritchard Farm in Pembroke in March. The New Hampshire Food Bank has received $900,000 from the USDA to buy produce from New Hampshire farms.

In the field

Eryka Reid of RMI and Anthony Drouin of DES talk to a reporter during a sludge-spreading operation at Pritchard Farm in Pembroke.

DES's Anthony Drouin

Anthony Drouin, administrator of Residuals Management Section at DES, stands next to a pile of biosolids during a visit to Pritchard Farm in Pembroke on April 27, 2022.