Discussion in 'Fertilizer Application' started by tracyalan, Sep 14, 2009.

  1. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,720

    Well, the way the response reads to me, it looks like Milorganite gets the lion's share of iron for their product from outside vendor(s), Smallaxe. :waving:


    My question, as it was e-mailed to Milorganite:

    "Is the 4% iron content in Milorganite a direct by-product of the sewage that enters the pipes of the MMSD, or is it purchased from an outside vendor and added as a component sometime along the processing line?"

    This is the exact response I got from Milorganite today:

    "Thanks for taking the time to contact us.
    We do add iron to Milorganite, the full 4% is not a by-product of the treatment process.
    Please feel free to contact me with any other questions."

    Jaime Staufenbeil

    This sort of makes sense, too, because the stuff I've read about the HISTORY of Milorganite going back to the early 20th century shows nothing whatsoever about iron being included.

    I'll bet 'cha a hot fudge sundae they started adding iron only a few decades ago as a perceived marketing advantage to maybe help them keep ahead of their chemical & non-chemical competition a little better on the garden center shelves.

    I wont rub it in TOO much, but now at least we all know a X% leading up to 4% of Milorganite doesn't originate from the crappers of Milwaukee!
  2. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,320

    So I guess that begs the question: would be see much response on grass without the 4% iron?
  3. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,720

    Oh, c'mon, d&h!
    Did you really need to ask that question?!? :)

    Without the supplemented iron there wouldn't be a chance in the world for much if any of Smallaxe's desired "Halloween color".
    And the remaining 96-97% or so would take its sweet time in making an impact, not unlike the average response time you typically see from finished compost topdressing, I imagine.
  4. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,161

    If my crap doesn't have much Iron, how do you explain the ring around my toilet? :)
  5. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,320

    Barry, you're batting 2 for 2 with this comment and the "food fight" one on the Iron thread. :laugh:
  6. Marcos

    Marcos LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,720

    I got a follow-up e-mail from Milorganite this afternoon.
    This time from one of their attorneys!

    Here's what he had to say:

    Domestic sewage is naturally rich in iron as iron is one of the most ubiquitous elements on earth. Iron is an essential element in enzymatic reactions necessary for life.

    From the beginning of wastewater treatment by the Milwaukee Sewer Socialists, spent pickle liquor (used to clean iron metals before painting) was added to bind and remove phosphorus. Thus an iron source was “added” to the incoming mass as part of the treatment process.

    In the past ten years, the local industrial sources of free used pickle liquor have disappeared. We discovered that phosphorus can be effectively removed from the wastewater without using pickle liquor.

    The downside of not using pickle liquor (very high in iron) for phosphorus removal was the total iron in Milorganite® dipped below the 4% guarantee.

    We had a choice: change the minimum iron guarantee or add iron to maintain 4%.
    We add iron after activated sludge treatment to the solids before heat drying to ensure the 4% guarantee is met.

    Iron concentrations in the activated sludge vary with the seasons. Sometimes the concentration is 4% or higher, sometimes iron is added.

    Thomas J. Crawford, Senior Staff Attorney
    Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District
    260 West Seeboth Street
    Milwaukee, WI 53204-1446
    (414) 225-2243


    This makes perfect sense.
    Adding iron to lock up & remove phosphorus on the molecular level.

    According to Mr. Crawford, I suppose either one of us can be correct depending upon what time of year it is. :)
  7. americanlawn

    americanlawn LawnSite Fanatic
    from midwest
    Messages: 5,956

    Since when does it require an attorney to handle SH$T issues. :dizzy: I wonder how much money there is in the "porta-potty" business just at college football games. :laugh:

    p.s. It's organic :laugh::laugh:
  8. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,161

    I liked your old avatar better. :waving:
  9. quiet

    quiet LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 720

    I disagree. I do see a response generally after a 2 week period from the Houactinite w/only a 1% Iron content. But down here the response from biosolids is very short lived on the heavy N feeding hybrid bermuda, particularly in mid-summer. But it is a visble and noticeable response.
  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Well if the lawyers had to respond about their iron guarantee, then I would imagine that they are pretty concerned about their N guarantee as well. So I am not too concerned about the N actually being in there.

    So - it is shown that the iron is added from outside sources and always has been the majority source - from pickle liquor.
    Marketing was probably the reason in that rather than drop the % of the Iron on the Label , they obviously wanted to continue to advertise 4%.
    So I was wrong on both counts.
    He did say that sometimes it is high enough naturally and sometimes iron is added.

    Thanks Marcos, that adds to an interestting story.

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