About The Product

About Bay State Fertilizer

Bay State Fertilizer is a recycled organic nitrogen fertilizer product that is similar to compost. Like compost, Bay State Fertilizer adds organic matter to the soil, helping to improve the soil’s structure and texture, and increasing the soil’s moisture holding capacity. Unlike compost, however, Bay State Fertilizer is a significant source of nitrogen and other plant nutrients, and can be easily applied using conventional spreaders.

The nitrogen in Bay State Fertilizer is in a natural organic form, which means that it is initially unavailable for plant use and will not dissolve in water. Microorganisms in the soil gradually mineralize this organic nitrogen, transforming it to water-soluble inorganic nitrogen which can be taken up by plants. Instead, Bay State Fertilizer gradually nurtures your lawn and garden from one season to the next, promoting stronger roots and deeper green color.

The slow release of nutrients benefits not only your plants but the environment too. With the use of some fertilizers, the leaching of excess water-soluble nitrogen to groundwater is an environmental concern. With Bay State Fertilizer, however, plants have a greater opportunity to take up the nitrogen; nutrients are not lost through leaching. Results of research conducted at the University of Massachusetts Amherst indicate that even when Bay State Fertilizer is applied at a rate six times higher than that recommended, it poses no threat to groundwater quality.

The Process


Bay State Fertilizer is manufactured by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) and the New England Fertilizer Company (NEFCO). It is a recycled product from the wastewater treatment process.

Before 1991, the solids and scum removed during sewage treatment were treated in a very different manner from the way they are today. As part of primary treatment, wastewater is channeled into settling tanks, where heavy particles (sludge) sink to the bottom of the tank. Anything that floats, such as plastics, fats, cooking oils, and sticks, is called scum. Before the Boston Harbor Clean-up, the sewage solids and floating material was digested (broken down by bacteria) to reduce its volume and oxygen-demanding organic matter.

Then, the digested sludge and scum were simply re-combined with chlorinated effluent and discharged from Deer Island into Boston Harbor on the outgoing tide. The sludge-scum mixture from the old Nut Island treatment plant in Quincy was digested and then pumped to an outfall about 5 miles  off Long Island. This black, smelly substance, adorned with pieces of trash, represented the worst results of the old treatment plants, and the most memorable ones for boaters.

Today, scum is landfilled. Sludge is processed into fertilizer pellets for gardening and landscaping. The days of scum and sludge in the harbor are long-gone.

High Temperatures Kill Bacteria

Using rotating, high-temperature dryers, the plant produces a small, hard granule that is approximately 60% organic matter. The pellets contain several important nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorous, calcium, sulfur and iron, and because the nitrogen in the fertilizer is in an organic form, it feeds plants slowly over time and minimizes the risk of nitrate pollution.

Fertilizer Marketed Nearby and Nationwide

While most of MWRA’s fertilizer is marketed in bulk by New England Fertilizer Company, a small portion is packaged and distributed as Bay State Fertilizer. The product meets all state and federal standards for biosolids fertilizer, including the strictest limits on metals. Bay State Fertilizer benefits lawns and gardens in several ways. Like compost, Bay State Fertilizer adds organic matter to the soil, helping to improve its texture and moisture-holding capacity. Unlike compost, however, Bay State Fertilizer is a significant source of nutrients and can be easily applied to lawns using conventional spreaders. Bay State Fertilizer is purchased wholesale by farmers, golf courses and landscapers throughout New England and has been available locally through garden centers and nurseries since 1995. Many communities within the MWRA sewerage district use the fertilizer on their parks, athletic fields, and municipal landscaping.

Nutrient Information

Plant Nutrients Average Bay State Analysis (ppm)* EPA Limits (ppm) MA DEP Limits (ppm)
Boron Not Detected Not Regulated 300
Copper 612 1500 1000
Molybdenum 18 75 25
Nickel 25 420 200
Zinc 1130 2800 2500


Other Metals Average Bay State Analysis (ppm) EPA Limits (ppm) MA DEP Limits (ppm)
Arsenic Not Detected 41 Not Regulated
Chromium 49 Not Regulated 1000
Cadium 2 39 14
Lead 171 300 300
Mercury 2 17 10
Selenium 4 100 Not Regulated

(ppm = parts per million)   *June 2008

The following northeast states have regulations regarding the application of fertilizers containing phosphorus to turf: Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Vermont. Please consult your local state laws before purchasing if you plan on using this product on turf.

MASSACHUSETTS CUSTOMERS: As of June 5th, 2015, Massachusetts law 330 CMR 31.00 prohibits the use of fertilizer containing phosphorus on lawns that have not been tested and confirmed to require phosphorus, as well as on lawns that are already established. More information on this law as well as information on soil tests can be found at this mass.gov page.