Composting human crap

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by helenlee, Aug 4, 2010.

  1. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    I know this has been covered before - I just can't find it I'm sorry.
    How long should human feces be composted before being used on fruit trees?
     
  2. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Depends how they've been composted. Was the urine left in or separated out? Urine in takes longer I think. The classic 'Humanure' is free online of you want to look it up. Jenkins recommends 12 months of adding to the pile and another 12 months of left alone before use, but he uses his in his vege garden I think, and he has a specific system of bins and cover material so that all pathogens get cooked.
     
  3. cassio

    cassio Junior Member

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    Current legislation in Vietnam requires that human faeces be kept for at least 6 months, after which they can be used for agricultural purposes without restriction.

    I'm not sure how to use this information, though...
     
  4. pierre

    pierre Junior Member

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    Hi Helen,

    Quite topical, since I've just started a bucket humanure composting system two days ago.

    You can download the 2nd edition of Joseph Jenkins's Humanure Handbook for free from https://humanurehandbook.com/downloads/H2_all.pdf and that should keep you busy for quite a while... The essence of the book is perhaps Chapter 8, where he describes his system in detail.

    Joseph advises against separating out the urine. Temperature is the key - even the nastiest bugs will get killed if the compost is maintained above 55 degrees C for more than three days. So it is essential to be able to build a good, hot compost heap. (I used to battle a lot composting wet vegie scraps collected from the office, my kitchen and my parents. This book actually helped me solve the puzzle but it is only now that I've decided to take the next step...)

    Jenkins recommends as a minimum a two-bin composting system. One fills the first bin bit-by-bit, all the while ensuring the top of the heap remains hot to kill off undesirables. Switch over to the 2nd bin when the 1st is full. Start using the compost from the 1st bin when the 2nd bin is full, but ensure bin 1 is left to cure for at least for 12 months from the last deposit.

    Heat plus curing time is what makes the stuff become quite safe to use. Even in your vegie garden. Remember, after say 2 years of curing this won't be crap anymore, it will be compost.

    That's perhaps the essense, but please be sure to read the whole book. He's got a great sense of humour.

    Happy humanuring!

    Pierre
     
  5. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    I have a Rotaloo. Usually it work well, but with all the overcast, cool weather we've had the stuff wasn't breaking down the way it should. Also, trees that had been planted between the loo & the sun had grown & were providing too much shade. So I took the bins out & put them up the paddock in a spot that gets full sun all day & covered then with aviary wire so nothing could get into them. That was about 6 months ago.
    I usually just put it on the ornamentals but I'd like to put it on the fruit trees as well. I'm never planning on using it on above ground growing vegetables - just in case :)
     
  6. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Location:
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    Different systems take different times depending on what's involved (was there good ventilation? was it heated? etc). Best to check with the manufacturer.
     
  7. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    we used a nature-loo, and usually the composting took around 6 to 7 months, that was determined by the rate at which the in use box filled, so could have been cut back to 3 months, if you can dig down just outside the feeder roots and bury it uncomposted that will still work, or check the humanure site and read about the sawdust bucket it gets emptied each week they suggest into a pile and compost it. for us it was very well composted at around 6 months using only worms for the beakdown process.

    len
     
  8. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    Thanks everyone. I'm off to read the Humanure Book - I didn't know I could get it free online.
    Len - have you had experience with ... um ... "visitor issues" with your system?
    ie: females taking the contraceptive pill, people taking antibiotics etc?
     
  9. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    we had no signs of anything adverse, whatever residues might be in it i don't see can be taken up by the plants system anyway, and the end product is under a layer of garden medium. whatever i see about any of this online all fits under the dear hype catagory, they have no hard copy evidence of pandemics or whatever occuring simply because it doesn't happen. in your case your plans are to feed fruit trees with it.

    use it an reap teh benefits, you can share any excesses with us anytime.

    len
     
  10. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    re: antibiotics/pill .. I thought the issue was they stopped decomposition by killing bacteria & microbes?

    you can share any excesses with us anytime.

    There's always an excess of $hit at my place ... rarely the useful kind though :)
     
  11. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Location:
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    Someone (can't remember who right now, but it might be Jenkins*) has done some work on antibiotics in composting toilet systems, and concluded that there isn't an issue i.e. the microbes aren't adversely affected enough to inhibit the microbial systems that break down shit well. That doesn't mean there are no issues at all though (I've also read that antibiotics and other drugs are problematic once they get into waterways).

    *thinking about it, it might be in the The composting toilet system book by David Del Porto.
     
  12. gardenlen

    gardenlen Group for banned users

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    yep wouldn't knock that back either in the rite place and time scenerio see lots of that floating around the place all over teh place hey lol? as pemaculturists we should be taking responsibility for all our own waste, depending on our future here i would realy like to have a humanure bucket for my waste at least, can't now afford a nature-loo inside model, that takes finances won't go there.

    about stopping decomposition i can say that is one i have never heard of, for us it played no role as we relied on the worms and whatever bacteria wanted to get involved, as we used composed stuff as a starter in the new box.

    we did run a dry box would suggest same with the bucket system, that is collect urine seperate and only have incidental urine in the bucket that also helps keep the odour out of the question. oh and get wood shavings i reckon they may work better sawdust can pack down and form a crust, w used to use dried mushroom compost..

    len
     
  13. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    as pemaculturists we should be taking responsibility for all our own waste,

    I moved my kids out of town when they were little for exactly that reason ... we had solar power, tank water, a dunny & grey water system, fruit & vegie garden, pigs & a cow. Hot water was provided by the large coil of polypipe on the roof for a long time & 1 bucket of water a day was the limit for a bath most of the time. I wanted them to know when they turned on the tap where the water came from, & when they went to the outhouse, where the end results of what they grew in the garden went. I wanted them to know there was no such thing as "away" or "somewhere else". Like most good hippie kids, they couldn't get back to the city fast enough when they were old enough to leave :) And now they come visit (occassionally) & tell me "you really have to get an inside toilet Mum". Yah gotta laugh :)
    My Rotaloo is off the deck ... I wouldn't have an inside composting toilet. I've never used one that is really & truly odourless, no matter what the manufacturer claims. I'd be interested to hear if anyone here has one that truly is.

    I'm here on my own 99% of the time so I just pee in a bucket & use it where I need to. I use wood shavings in the Rotaloo. It normally works well - it was just when I had my two 6'3" boys & my 5'8" daughter & my daughter in law here for a few days & there was a 'shock load" (I think thats what the manual calls it) & the weather remained cold & overcast that it stopped composting. I was wondering if the pill & the antibiotics contributed to that, but I think it was the low temperature.

    Thanks for the tip on the book Pebble. I'll keep an eye out for it.
     
  14. SueUSA

    SueUSA Junior Member

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    "re: antibiotics/pill .. I thought the issue was they stopped decomposition by killing bacteria & microbes?"

    They might do so in the spot where they are, but I tend to think that it would hardly be an issue unless someone was on them constantly, and who would be that stupid?

    Also, antibiotics are often bacteria-specific, and others bacteria could take over the job of breaking things down.

    Sue
     
  15. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Urine is crucial for composting because it's full of nitrogen that helps break down the carbons (everything else). the only issue is if there's too much urine (or not enough carbons added, like straw, leaf litter, mowed weeds and grass) it will create sludge, and that's no fun. It should always be damp but not shiny wet. If it's slowing because of winter temps you can insulate it underneath and around the sides, or perhaps it's slowing because it's not wet enough.

    Antibiotics are different from antimicrobials. Things like Clorox wipes or baby wipes will kill the bacteria in the composter. Not sure if birth control pills affect microbiological reproduction rates *hahahaha*:rofl:
    *kidding*

    I make sure my composted stuff is in the sun in a silver metal garbage can with a tight lid (to kill any bugs that get in there) for 8 months of sun. This could be 18 months if you live in a cold place. Nothing should be recognizable, not even the paper. But even if it is completely composted, it's still compost which is full of bacteria that we don't want in our eyes, nose, mouth, hands, on our shoes tracking into the house, or on our dogs and cats that like the shade of fruit trees. Either put it on in the winter, or when you put it on put mulch over it, like leaves, mowed grass, etc., so there's no contact. :)
     
  16. helenlee

    helenlee Junior Member

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    Hi sweetpea,

    I wish I could have made my own loo but this one was installed already when I bought the place. I have 2 (outside) toilets - the Rotaloo & a dunny. My preference would have been to make my own using the wheelie bin method. They are so practical & convenient I don't know why anyone uses anything else.

    The rotatloo works fine when there is only one person using it ... when I bought the place from a single woman the bin content was exactly as you described ... fine dry powdery stuff with nothing recognizable in it. However after a visit by a herd of large adult size children during unusually cool & overcast weather decomposition slowed down dramatically. I've relocated the bins to a sunny spot to speed things up. I'm going to incorporate the contents in a new compost mix so I can be sure it reaches the desired temperature & then spread it under the fruit trees topped with a thick layer of mulch to keep the foxie (who sleeps with me, so I don't want her covered in sh!t!) out of it.

    I like your George Harrison quote ... it's a topic life has brought me to meditate on this last year.
     
  17. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Helen, thanks about the quote. I, too, have taken it to heart as life trudges on and drops bombs in my path. Be Here Now fits in there nicely, too :)

    I always encourage male adult children to contribute to the cause and pee into milk jugs that will be added to the compost pile.. They get this glassy-eyed smile on their faces and seem pleased. hahahaha.
     
  18. heftzwecke

    heftzwecke Junior Member

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    A bit off the topic. We have a very usual indoor toilet, but as I'm often outdoors I would like to have a garden toilet, as it is annoying gumboots in gumboots out and at least we would have the fertilizer during the day.

    I thought of something which can be moved from time to time. Either a hole and you throw a bit of mulch down after each business. Or on the top of the compost bin, but we have strong winds and I don't want the dunny to fly away, or on the top of a pile of twigs, same problem as before.
    Our water table is pretty high.

    I find the bucket not very appealing.
     
  19. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    the oldest lady in the histiry of our village just used to tip her dunny can onto her

    rudimentry compost heap
    red clover and women at certain times of their cycle excrete
    differant horemones sorry bout my spelling
    she smoked ciggies but grew excellent broccilli and brussel sprouts
     
  20. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Heftzwecke, I have a funny story about my remote bucket. I bought a toilet seat to put on it, and it works really well, dirt/pine litter covers everything. This spring it started sprouting dozens of tomato plants. It's in the shade, no rain since late spring, no urine, either, since I use it elsewhere. I thinned out the plants to just a couple, the deer don't eat them, the raccoons don't knock it over. I've since moved it into the sun for the tomatoes to form, and give it water rarely, maybe some once a week. It's really convenient for emptying and starting over, but it's the addition of the real seat that makes it easy to use. I store paper in a plastic box with a lid so the mice don't get to it.
     

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