Apparently no two muds are the same from drilling operation to drilling operation depending on the recipe used to create the mud mixture. But most muds will contain bentonite clay, barium sulfate, lime, soda ash, lignite and loss of circulation materials, which can be ground peanut shells or other organic and inorganic materials.

Feagley says in some cases, the sludge can be beneficial to soils by reducing impaction of soils from tilling. Also, adding sludge with high clay content to sandy soils can increase water retention and nutrient values.

But oil drilling mud mixtures can also add high levels of salt to soils and can kill grasses and take away from the ability of some soils to support plant life.

“It can take years to regenerate an area if the material is applied improperly,” Feagley said. “Remediation takes time; it’s not a quick fix to get salts in the soils out.”

Feagley warns property owners to conduct soil tests and to fully evaluate the material to be dumped on their property and how they are applied before signing any contracts. While many oil and gas companies provide a list of contents of muds and liquids to be dumped, he says others may fail to list all the materials included. He advices landowners to stand firm on testing of materials to be dumped as well and to work with a lawyer before entering into any contract.

Feagley said “Land Application of Drilling Fluids: Landowner Considerations” is a publication that gives more details on regulations and considerations and can be found at .

“And be sure to check out the company, because there are some that do a good job and some, not so good,” Feagley says. “Good contractors will work with you from the beginning to the end – that’s from application to three or four years down the road when you can see how the crop responds. And ask questions, always ask questions.”