Fermilab goes greener with leaf-based fertilizer
Leaves from neighboring municipalities are deposited at a leaf collection site (above) near Site 70 where they are composted for use as fertilizer by farms on site.
Even as spring approaches, there's a touch of autumn in the air at Fermilab.
It comes in the form of leaves turned organic fertilizer, and farmer Bruce Nagel will soon begin spreading it over land at Fermilab.
The informal leaf spreading program is one Fermilab's most environmentally friendly projects.
"It's just like putting compost on your garden. It's a non-chemical way to add nutrients to soil," said Fermilab ecologist Rod Walton.
The decomposed leaves add carbon to the soil. This helps to loosen the soil, allowing roots to grow more easily. Carbon also increases the soil's ability to absorb water. The combined effect increases the yield capacity of Fermilab's 2,000 tillable acres where corn and soybeans are grown, Walton explained.
The leaf spreading program, which started four years ago, uses leaves from the nearby communities of Batavia, Batavia Township, Warrenville and North Aurora, said Mike Becker, Fermilab Site Services Assistant Manager.
The towns pay less to bring them to Fermilab than they would pay to take them to a dump.
"It's a win-win situation," Becker said. "The towns are saving money. We are making more money, and the farmers are making more money. And it's good for the soil."
-- Kristine Crane