Humanure - Should we? Could we? Would we?

How will oil depletion affect the way we live? What will the economic impact be? How will agriculture change? Will we thrive or merely survive?

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Post by Keela »

biffvernon wrote:The trouble with this sort of compost system is that I wouldn't be able to fit all my compost into it.
I know I tend to agree.... even without adding any human material we do generate quite a heap here too!

And with six in the household we would no doubt need a bigger system than the one pictured.

That picture just looked so simple that I thought it was worth posting to inspire (if that is the right word!) folk - and surely once full a bigger family could just expand into more boxes? Or expand the concept to make a bigger 3 box system?

I think I would still keep our horse manure separate as it already works the way we do it. I think it requires less care and can be more casual - like your pictured system.
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Post by leroy »

I've helped build one and used it every time I was at my friends garden summer and winter with no problems. Better than sh***ing in ziploc bags when the sewage system buggers up the Water Closets, and infinitely better than running short of phospates.

Reading about the ever tumultuous lives of the people of Nauru in The Economist today - seems the refugee detention centre they built there for the Aussies is going away with the new PM Kevin Rudd (right name? :? ). Anywayz, in a right mess those Nauruans - once the richest people on earth with all that guano....
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Post by Bandidoz »

SunnyJim wrote:a 5 gallon homebrew fermentation vessel.
Something like this?

I was thinking of something more like this.... a lid and a good for transporting to the pile. Also less "aim" needed :wink:
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Post by ndon »

hi there, the dog pile works fine, i do not add dog shit for 48 hours after they have been given worming treatment, as the nasties do my micro herd no favours at all.

I have yet to use my dog compoat on veggies, but it mainly goes on the lawn (yes I know, I know) I just like the fact that most folk remove dog shit from the lawn, and mine makes it grow beautifully.

sally, I am ndon, as this is a name that I use, and brandon was taken.
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Post by RenewableCandy »

ndon wrote: sally, I am ndon, as this is a name that I use, and brandon was taken.
Wot no bra :D ? Welcome to the forum, and good luck with your dog.
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Post by kenneal - lagger »

Hi! Br.... sorry ndon. Nice to have another CAT lad here. Couldn't you have used "TheBrandon". Suits your outgoing personality much better.

I couldn't get to Ecobuild in the end because my genny went wrong and the engineer said he would come out on the day I was due to attend. He didn't turn up till the next day, which pissed me off a little.

Are you coming to the Powerswitch summer weekend get together at the beginning of August? The 2nd and 3rd. ... sc&start=0

All this talk on Humanure is useful because I've been looking at building some permanent outside loos for various events we have here. They will have to be unobtrusive because I don't want to have to get planning permission. So 6ft tall long drop loos as seen at the Sunrise Festival and other places are out. I've got a few weeks to sort things out and, now, some good ideas.

We've put dog shit into our compost heap along with cow, sheep and goat shit for years without any known problems. The herbivore shit usually goes on in quantity mixed with straw and you can almost watch the heap settle, it rots so quickly.

Does the new system with the website cut off auto informers if you don't contribute for a while? Anyone know? I seem to lose contact after a few days.
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Post by eatyourveg »

Thunderboxes are go!

There is one of these at a local forest centre. Very effective.
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Post by emordnilap »

greg wrote:Thunderboxes are go!

There is one of these at a local forest centre. Very effective.
Awesome. I want one.
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Post by Ballard »

Our allotment has a composting 'tree bog'.

Simply a ?80 shed from B&Q on stilts, with fly proof netting around the bottom and willow planted around it.

No smell, works great.
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Compost loo experience

Post by longjohn »

I thought folks might be encouraged by my experience with a very primitive compost loo.

I have sited the 30 litre oblong IKEA plastic bucket in the tiny, very warm and often humid bathroom in my tiny flat.

Here, as briefly as possible, is how I am using it and the results I am seeing.

I pee elsewhere when possible, either into a lidded jug or into the toilet. When the pee-jug is full I pour its contents into my garden compost bin, where it very noticeably speeds the breakdown of woody, twiggy waste.

When I poo, I don't sweat the fact that I pee into the compost toilet a bit. It's not causing a problem.

The compost loo bucket is lined with newspaper. I did this just to see if it makes a difference in the long run to keeping the bucket clean.

I cover my leavings with wood chips that I grabbed from a pile on the verge down the road.

I am going through about a gallon of wood chips a week. Which isn't much.

I do fully cover my deposit but there are bits of toilet roll visible. I don't worry about it.

The bucket currently has three weeks worth in it and is getting close to being full. I do keep a lid on it but it is not tight-fitting and has a hole in the top.

My bathroom gets very warm during the day due to a south-facing wall and outside door that has no openable window. The bathroom is vented only by a small vent that runs in the morning when I have a shower or for a few minutes when I turn the light on. There is no other venting of the room.

There is no smell - none - from the bucket. I can - and have - stuck my nose into it and sniffed as hard as I could to try to pick up a trace of scent and there just isn't any.

In this respect the compost loo has exceeded my expectations.

I will get around to making a box and seat for the bucket. Similarly, when I get a place where I am likely to be for longer, I will make a toilet and pipe-run that I can use for pee alone. The jug is a bit... manual.

I tip the contents of the bucket into my compost bin.

Last year I tried pooing directly into a worm-bin that I kept outside. That wasn't brilliantly successful because rats got in occasionally and made off with the poo. I am not seeing the same interest by rats in the poo+wood chips mixture.

Just a word about putting pee in the compost bin. I grabbed four mailbags of woody cuttings that my mum was going to take to the tip on the grounds that 'they couldn't be composted'. I put the contents of two of the bags into my compost bin and pured the jug of pee into it when it became full (probably two litres once, sometimes twice a week). The woody bits rotted down really fast. It smelled only for a few minutes after I poured pee on it.

It did attract lots of midges and flies (but then my landlord throws half eaten chicken carcasses on to it as well....) but I actually think they help the area by attracting birds. They may also be an indicator of a broader diversity of life in the area. but that's speculation.

I kept a control pile of woody cuttings from the other two bags and they are still slowly settling in the corner. I pour pee on to one corner occasionally and can see nettles growing there and possibly faster rotting.

So, my take is: no smells from the compost loo, despite what can only be described as unfavourable conditions and extreme simplicity. Also that pee does your woody bits good, and more so if the woody bits are in a compost bin. Nitrogen and carbon and all that.

Now that I've gone this far I feel more responsible for myself and for less pain than I realised I could have felt before. This sense of being maturely able to take care of my waste is an unexpected bonus in addition to the knowledge and satisfaction I've gained from starting this experiment.

Hope this helps someone else take similar steps.

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Post by Keela »

Hi LongJohn - Welcome and Thank you for all that info!

I'm just on the verge of setting this all up for a family of six (or for as many as will participate :wink: ).

The Humanure Handbook suggests collecting pee & poo in the same bucket. You separate them, but then recombine them in the heap? I guess this makes for less bucket emptying & perhaps less odour?

I'm using "liquid gold" already as that is as simple as a bucket in the greenhouse (private location don't worry 8) ) and have diluted it an poured it round rhubarb, fruit bushes etc. so far.

OH has some big buckets from work I can use - I just need to make a few lids and get some sawdust etc.

Again thanks for all this.

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Post by fifthcolumn »


Excellent post.
Sounds like you have pretty strong piss mate!!

Good one.
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Post by JohnB »

It's nice to see how simple things can be. The loo in my van is a cassette thing, and normally you put some chemical in the cassette to eliminate the smell and help the contents to break down. It's basically a seat with a hole into a container with a lid on it. You can also get one of these, ... -p-26.html, to do without the chemical. It's an extractor fan and filter that starts up when you open the flap. It's not really practical to chuck sawdust down the hole, as you'd have trouble emptying it. It uses water for flushing, but only to clear the bowl, and the 15 litres of water in the tank lasts for ages. You can control exactly how much, if any, water you use for each flush. All very simple ideas, in this case using lots of plastic and complex components, but it doesn't need to if it's not in a vehicle, where you need to stop the end product splashing about.

I don't know the best way to make use of the contents of the cassette, as it ends up as a liquid, so would be difficult to contain in a compost bin. I wouldn't like to pour it straight on the land. I guess this is something I might have to deal with if I get some land, and have to live in the van while I'm building or renovating a house.

Disposal on camp sites unfortunately goes the same way as conventional loos, but it's great fun emptying a full cassette of brown yucky liquid :lol:. I did have an offer of having a hole made by a digger to empty it in last weekend.

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Post by longjohn »

Sally wrote:Hi LongJohn - Welcome and Thank you for all that info!

The Humanure Handbook suggests collecting pee & poo in the same bucket. You separate them, but then recombine them in the heap? I guess this makes for less bucket emptying & perhaps less odour?

Yes, this makes for less bucket emptying and, I presume, less odour.

It's actually a hangover habit from when I first started redirecting pee to the garden by collecting it, while still allowing poo to go in the conventional toilet.

As an experiment, I should try collecting pee in the compost loo too. If and when I do I'll report back.

I'm disinclined to collect them together because there are plenty of places in the garden where the pee's ability to speed composting is quite helpful.

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Post by Keela »

I have to admit I'm inclined to want to separate at least some of the urine for use as an immediate fertiliser (as in the book Liquid Gold) because humanure will take a bit longer to mature and I'm growing stuff now. I guess the humanure will still work without ALL the pee!

:) It's amazing what it's possible to feel all inspired and enthusiastic about isn't it? :lol:
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