Soil Farming

The Land Application of onsite Drilling Fluids and Cuttings

What is Soil Farming?

Soil Farming provides the Operator with a disposal option to handle fluids and solids (cuttings) generated by the process of drilling an oil & gas well. The fluids and solids are “thin spread” using Big A or Four Wheel Applicators, the same equipment used in current farming operations for land applying fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.

What are drilling fluids?

Drilling fluids are comprised mostly of Bentonite (a naturally occurring clay substance), lime, lignite (finely ground decayed bark), pH balancers, viscosifiers (cottonseed hulls) and occasionally weighing agents such as barite and water. Drilling fluids   provide the Operator with a safe and effective means of hole penetration, lubrication, wellbore cleaning, and maintaining gauge hole design. Regardless of the onsite disposal option, the Landowner should feel confident the Operator is engineering the best onsite system to protect the environment and maintain conditions prior to drilling operations.

What will drilling fluids do for my land?

Bentonite, the major constituent of “drilling muds”, is swelling clay. It has the capacity to take on 17 times its own weight in water. As the mud is thin spread onto the land and is disked into the first six inches of soil, the topsoil will retain more moisture or carrying capacity in the region where cash crops mature.  Should you decide to fertilize, the benefit gained from the drilling muds is once again the retention capacity the topsoil now has. The drilling mud decreases the sieve rate of the soil, allowing greater retention for pesticides and herbicides. The drilling muds are not fertilizers but rather soil adjuncts, allowing for greater retention of water, fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides in the root zone, significantly increasing crop yield.

The role of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission

The Operator of the well generating the fluids and solids must secure permit authority from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to legally land apply the drilling fluids onto your land. Careful consideration, research and over eight years of actual practice have gone into developing this methodology. A sophisticated permit package consisting of soil studies, soil analyses, and loading rates is submitted for approval. This is a standard practice and is mandatory for the Operator to receive authority.


The Operator will compensate the land owner monetarily for the temporary use of the land. As the fluids need to be disked into the land, experience has shown that the landowner or lessee is the best source to employ. If application is made to grassland, disking is not necessary or recommended.

How to get started

A preliminary check of the receiving site is run. Please have the legal description for the land (quarter section, section, township, and range) ready. Should the preliminary evaluation prove your ground to be a candidate for soil farming, the attached OCC “Landowner Release” form will need to be signed and returned. If you have any questions regarding this process, please feel free to call me. References of farmers and ranchers like you are provided upon request.