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~ The Story of Phosphorus

 
George Lee
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8 reasons why we need to rethink the management of phosphorus resources in the global food system.

Pay special attention to Point 8 in this breakdown.
Re-cycling human excreta...

http://phosphorusfutures.net/why-phosphorus

"Urine is the largest single source of P emerging from human settlements."
Furthermore...

"According to some studies in Sweden and Zimbabwe, the nutrients in one person's urine are sufficient to produce 50-100% of the food requirements for another person. Combined with other organic sources like manure and food waste, the phosphorus value in urine and faeces can essentially replace the demand for phosphate rock. In 2000, the global population produced 3 million tonnes of phosphorus from urine and feces alone."

Very insightful examination on 'peak phosphorus' that I wanted to share.
Discuss please. Peace -
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
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I suppose wood ash might complement urine nicely, rounding out the npk formula.

Wood ash might be 0-1-3 N-P-K

Urine has a fertilizer value of N-P-K 18:2:5 

 
John Polk
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There you go:  the perfect way to put out the fire in your fire pit!

Wood ash is one of the most under utilized free resources around.  It is one of the richest natural sources of K available.  It has 2-3 times more K than barnyard manures.  Being alkaline, it will help sweeten a sour soil.  Peach trees absolutely love it!

 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
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also, urine and wood ash are acid and alkaline respectively. 

Back to the original post, it is quite sobering, as well as confirming what we know of the necessity of cycling nutrients.  With peak oil, soil, water, phosphorous, fish, wood, etc., etc., it is so obvious that industrial ag is hitting the wall as we speak, and will continue hitting that wall.  The economics of permaculture are going to be in the drivers seat over the next 10-20 years, rather than the ethos of it, that has driven the last 30 years. 

3. Peak P: no substitute?

Like oil and other natural resources, the rate of production of economically available phosphate reserves will eventually reach a peak, followed by a steep decline and subsequent ongoing decline of productivity. An analysis basedon industry data shows the global peak P is expected to occur around 2034 (see Peak Phosphorus).8
 
George Lee
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Sobering indeed. I'd like to see wastewater treatment plants work on seperation of elements within the system to be re-cycled back into our soil> food> bodies. It's going to have to become a standardized practice.

When will these bright academics and money/policy makers wise up? Their hands are covered in the blood of their children and theirs respectively. They're the "Masters of the Universe" (or so they believe) starkly put by Dr. Noam Chomsky.

Live for today, yet be ready for tomorrow and tomorrow's tomorrow.






 
William James
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I have a question about urine:
As I'm a little worried about what comes out of many people's "organic waste" garbage cans (plastic, heavy metals from non-organic fruit), should I be worried about what comes out of their bodies as well?

Said another way, I'd be skeptical about using municipal compost, so should I be equally weary of using something that they could potentially concoct with people's urine?

Here's the point: I don't mind using my own wastes (food and a little urine for now), because I know for the most part what's in it. Not sure about other people's stuff.

william
 
Michael Radelut
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LivingWind wrote:
I'd like to see wastewater treatment plants work on seperation of elements within the system to be re-cycled back into our soil> food> bodies. It's going to have to become a standardized practice.


Way to complicated. There is a very elegant solution to this; one that's decentralized, clean, regenerative, and easy to install for every homeowner:

Install a reed bed.

It uses the water your household is already producing very effectively, and it converts those precious nutrients into fertilizer right where you need it - just chop a few reeds and drop them as mulch a few metres away !

Then: It gets rid of the need for a sewage system (and your bill), and it also very effectively removes the need to handle buckets of semi-decomposed humanure from a compost toilet - no entry threshold for the sceptical neighbours here !

Of course, a true permaculture reed beed would be one that doesn't merely maximize nitrogen evaporation through anaerobic bacteria, but one that's tweaked to yield as much biomass as possible - in a large household probably enough to let all that biomass (reeds, augmented by bamboo, nettles and the like) pass through the gut of a few backyard animals first, before then ending up as fertilizer !

It would turn urban backyards into the most fertile places imaginable, which would of course become even more fertile with every flush


Whenever someone's thinking about doing 'urban permaculture' on his property, a reed bed really should be the first thing to install - everything else follows from there !




 
William James
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Mmm. Whenever I see "Reed Bed" and "Urban" together, I imagine some urban planning wonk is out there just cringing. 

I think my friend would shoot me if I suggested I substitute her pretty little pond with a biomass production unit run off of her human waste.

These are one of the things that really makes light of the "eco scale" Paul talks about. Some people just aren't there yet. And unfortunately, a lot of them hold positions of power in local governments.
 
Michael Radelut
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Round here, you can pay a company to just put one in; it then gets controlled once a year.
No big deal, really.
Just send your local official over, so he can stare in amazement at ... a neat little bunch of reeds.
 
George Lee
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That's the thing. These type of straight-forward and simplistic mechanisms aren't considered
and regularly ignored by municipalities and states alike. The powers that be don't even FATHOM such manner of doing things. "It would be too intensive and risky" (whereas we know differently)...

That's why I beg the question.. When will these academics encourage lawmakers/policymakers make a change? It must happen and it must be available to all. I'm talking about big change, as in several hundred million people. There are a couple tens of thousands of 'permies' and other sustainably-minded folk, but this is becoming an issue of the masses.

Can you imagine what strides we'd be able to take if we had most-to-everyone's participation? Recycling phosphorous for instance, back into the ecosystem, where it can be manipulated and used once again. We're talking about a finite resource, just as oil is.

"There's nothing more to be if you can be the remedy."



 
George Lee
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William wrote:
I have a question about urine:
As I'm a little worried about what comes out of many people's "organic waste" garbage cans (plastic, heavy metals from non-organic fruit), should I be worried about what comes out of their bodies as well?william

William If you're conscious of that, that's wise.. Some people smoke, take pharma drugs and it's diluted and spurt out daily by our system. You know what you eat and what you drink and can essentially dictate your waste processes. Some even go as far as taking VITAMINS to get favorable water-soluble ratios that can be used for instant plant nutrition.
And..It really depends on where you are. In Athens,GA near Univ of GA, they have a wonderful 'bioconvesion' centre of which I've used a'many a heap of compost. It's roadkill,foodscraps, and other wonderful goodies from the college and city. The microbes will eat it all the same. Wonderfully rich stuff and I've done dozens of sheetmulched beds with it.
 
George Lee
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Further figures and insight into wastes and our growing culture...
http://www.agrowingculture.org/2011/09/recycling-human-waste/
 
Ivan Weiss
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Haha, until such time as I have advanced up the eco scale enough to have a reed bed, I guess I'll just keep peeing on my compost pile.
 
Alison Thomas
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I'm very interested in the urine/woodash relation but I'll start a separate thread rather than hi-jacking this one.
 
allen lumley
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Bump ! Big AL
 
Dale Hodgins
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John Polk wrote:There you go:  the perfect way to put out the fire in your fire pit!

Wood ash is one of the most under utilized free resources around.  It is one of the richest natural sources of K available.  It has 2-3 times more K than barnyard manures.  Being alkaline, it will help sweeten a sour soil.  Peach trees absolutely love it!



A.L. --- When bumping a topic, it's fun to quote the funniest or craziest comment from the past. John's campfire extinguisher qualifies as the funniest. Not that I'm making fun of his extinguisher or anything
 
George Lee
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my friend, a mutliple doctorate student, at a recent ted conference speaking on biosolids and P reclamation



 
Wojciech Majda
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Using urine and wood ash (only) is a bad idea as it does have a lot of Potassium and relatively little amount of Phosphorus. It's a recipe for poor quality food. If you combine it with something with calcium and phosphorus like bonemeal.
 
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