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Poop beast

 
Steve Nicolini
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Has anyone here done any research on poop eating guilds?  This goes along with the dry outhouse tree bog thing. 
 
paul wheaton
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My limited knowledge so far.

Apparently, willow and nettle will take on poop rather directly.

So I guess the challenge is:  what plants are such heavy nitrogen pigs, that they will shoot roots right into an outhouse pit.  (most plants would find that "too hot" and avoid the area)

 
Susan Monroe
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What about corn?  I read that it's the worst N-hog known.

Sue
 
paul wheaton
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I think corn wouldn't work well because

a)  it is an annual - so for most of the year it won't be there to eat the poop.

b)  it's roots aren't all that big, so if your corn plant is five feet away, it might never find the poop in order to eat it.

 
Leah Sattler
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is a requirment that the outhouse be stationary? what about shallower holes and more frequent moving, so that you can take advantage of shallower rooted plants. sort of a poop beast rotation. 
 
paul wheaton
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When Steve asks this question, it activates my own desire to see the answer.  And for me, I want to know the answer so that it can be a solution for the combination "dry outhouse" / "tree bog" (DOTBog?)  I suspect that with the right plants surrounding the DOTBog, you might never have to move it.  Never moving it means less work.  So a little smarts around what to plant could save a lot of work. 

 
Leah Sattler
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so last night I was thinking. hey put the out house  on wheels to make it easy to move. then I realized that the thing I was constructing in my mind was.......a giant "human-tractor"  just needs a big ole waterbottle and a little tray for food......
 
Susan Monroe
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Snort!

"Leah's Babysitting Service -- fresh air, sunlight, safe confinement".

Sue
 
Susan Monroe
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I just tossed corn out there as an idea because it is a nutrient hog.

This outhouse/tree bog thing would be mainly used in the warmer months, it has been said, when I said I wouldn't use one at 17F, and Brenda said she wouldn't use one below zero.

And the main thing you want with this outhouse/tree bog thing is to deal safely with human waste, right?  Food production isn't a real issue.

So now I've looked up corn roots, and I'm tossing the corn idea out again.

Corn is a nutrient hog.  Corn grows in warm weather.

From Washing State U Extension:  "Corn roots are extensive, reaching as deep as 6 to 7 feet in the soil, and thoroughly spreading throughout the upper 2 feet or so in the soil. Finer roots have more area for their weight than larger-diameter roots, so are more efficient at moving into soil and taking up water and nutrients."

Most authorities say corn should be planted when the soil temps are at least 50F.  That's probably about the time you would start using the tree bog/toilet, or close.  So you plant a couple of rows of corn right around the tree bog/toilet and keep it moist (if you have to).

Maybe all you would have to do is plant the seed and stand back?

Someone needs to test this, yes?

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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and corn would flow through a little automatic feeder easily....  


the people I worked for had a little contest going once. they wanted to plant corn. wife insisted that the stall cleanings would burn the corn husband said the opposite. husband dumped load of barely/partially composted manure on ground and planted the corn directly in it. wife just stuck them in the ground. husband had 6' high corn. wifes corn died.
 
Steve Nicolini
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I think it deserves a try, Sue.  We were planning on building a trench around the whole bog to divert surface water.  It is a dry outhouse.  I wonder if the corn would want water so bad it would drink the water in our poop...

There is also the sunlight thing.  I have an idea... a successional poop eating guild.  Transplant your young willows as you plant your corn.  Let the corn work until the willows are big and hungry.  Big enough to eat all the sunlight before it reaches the corn.  Just an idea. 

 
Matt Ferrall
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Ok,after thinking abit about it I came up with some ideas.First off,I really am disturbed by the idea of all those nutrients just going into one spot on the land.With that in mind,I focused my guild on removing the biomass ever outward.JUst as worms will move the concentrated fertility outward,so to,humans can move the above ground fertility outward.
  Directly around the john,I would place copice stools for willow rods,These could be harvested annually,removing the carbon.Since the basic desighn is for a privacy ring of vegetation,I will henseforth refer to the plants as being in rings.So the willow could also be planted closer in their ring and woven together in a latise desighn.
    In the next "ring",I would place some(1-4) nut trees(acid tolerent chestnuts perhaps).These would dominate the upper story,producing a food crop.Their leaves would disburse more carbon in the fall.
    Nearly under the chestnuts,but in a slightly larger ring,I would place cedar trees 1-2 ft apart from eachother.I would weave them together as they grew.After they have formed a dence privacy hedge they can be croped for hedge trimmings wich should be moved outward.
    In the outer ring,acid loving plants like huckleberrys and blueberries recieve the hedge trimming mulch and therefore do not need the outside input of sawdust/wood chips.The berry bushes could extend to the drip line of the nut trees.
 
Susan Monroe
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Mt. Goat, I may not be visualizing your idea correctly, but aren't you planning on a lot of large trees for a relatively small area?  I can't really see the nutrients spreading that far.  The nut trees and cedar trees that I am familiar with have quite a large spread.  My filberts are every bit as wide as they are tall, a good fifteen feet.

Sue
 
Matt Ferrall
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Western red cedar can be grown as a hedge if trained right.I was thinking of training it to about 6 ft.+/- a couple of feet.I was also asuming that the nut trees would be able to spread out their roots to their drip line,which would make 10-15 feet away totally doable.The variable # of nut trees accounts for differences in height in different trees.as in 4 hazels or 1 american chestnut.Any way the entire upper story would be dominated by the nut trees so 10 ft away from the john is not too close.I always plant everything too close when using seedlings or untested varieties because I plan on geting rid of 50% ultimately anyway.
 
Susan Monroe
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Well, if they get out of control, I guess Leah can send her Killer Goats over to deal with the problem.

Sue
 
Leah Sattler
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I will give them a cedar tree refresher just in case.....
 
              
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bamboo is a very good poop beast in the right climates.  It is said to grow faster than any tree, so it would guzzle down that poop like there was no tomorrow.  You probably could poop in it the hole in the morning, and hear it belching soon after.
I live so far north, bamboo isn't as amazing around here.  But its possible for rhizomes to run 10ft though even here!
 
Leah Sattler
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they make alot of stuff out of bamboo to don't they? I know I have heard of bamboo floors. great idea!
 
              
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yeah, bamboo would be a good resource around the farm.  All sorts of uses.  The farther south someone is, the more logical ability they'll have at utilizing it.  My bamboo has died to the ground every year I've had it so far, so that sets it back.  But have only had it for 4 years.
 
paul wheaton
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Some recent stuff about poplars made me think that poplar might be a good poop beast.

Willows seem to be the most commonly referenced poop beast, but they are very thirsty .....  if the urine/moisture factor ever dried up, a willow might get a bit sad.

 
Fred Morgan
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Good ideas and I blush to say I can grow anything, year round. Field corn to fatten a cow might be a really nice idea... Lets see, we have 50 workers who...

Bamboo would be good for sure. Almost any kind of grass (bamboo, corn, sugarcane, etc. are all grasses) love this kind of stuff.
 
Erica Wisner
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LoonyK wrote:
bamboo is a very good poop beast in the right climates.  It is said to grow faster than any tree, so it would guzzle down that poop like there was no tomorrow.  You probably could poop in it the hole in the morning, and hear it belching soon after.
I live so far north, bamboo isn't as amazing around here.   But its possible for rhizomes to run 10ft though even here!


You probably want the non-rhizome-spreading kind if you want to have room for other vegetation nearby.  We have two kinds, one has taken over an entire side of the fenced yard, and the other is behaving itself very neatly and growing nicer and nicer thick, usable stalks each year.
Check with local growers or online regarding which kinds of bamboo are invasive in your area. 
 
charles c. johnson
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could you go micro and use Enzymes . maybe build your out house in the middle of a moat then combo enzymes and cat tails
 
Brenda Groth
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we used to have giant knotweed growing here and if it was near a building it would grow up inside the walls and inside the buildings..it was very invasive..in my humble opinion i think bamboo might do the same thing..and might just grow INSIDE of your outhouse..making you unable to get inside for very long?

i really like Leah's human tractor idea..why not have the outhouse on wheels..or build it on an old "wagon frame" so you can hitch it up to the tractor or the truck and move that sucker regularly..dump a little dirt over the mess and plant a tree!  Ideal !
 
paul wheaton
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Brenda Groth wrote:
i really like Leah's human tractor idea..why not have the outhouse on wheels..or build it on an old "wagon frame" so you can hitch it up to the tractor or the truck and move that sucker regularly..dump a little dirt over the mess and plant a tree!  Ideal !


My thinking is to build it on skids and drag it around as needed.

I think that late spring is the perfect time to move such a thing.  Suppose it has been in the same spot for three years and the hole is kinda full.  Then the surrounding poop beasts should be pretty big and healthy - they will finish off whatever is in the hole in a month or two. 

Of course, I suppose that if this is done right, the poop beasts might make sure that the hole never fills up.

 
Robert Ray
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Vertier grass, but it won't grow in my climate
 
                              
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Bamboo is great but you should probably make sure to plant clumping varieties or it will take over.
If in a sub tropical climate or warmer, Moringa and Bananas are great nitrogen suckers that can handle strong fertilizer.

You mention corn, but what about tomatoes?  They are greedy plants in a sunny location.

However, all this seems a little off to me.  Humanure composting is really quite easy and can provide quality compost for the gardens so there is not so much worry about contaminating ground water with nitrates or pathogen problems with veggies grown in unprocessed human wastes.  The sawdust toilets are far nicer to use where ever you like them.  No issues with smell or cold, just the chore of emptying buckets every so often into the compost bin.
 
charles c. johnson
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could you use your waste as fuel burning it as patties like cow dung
is split bamboo a good fuel for rmh ?
 
                              
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If you want to turn your waste into fuel, I suggest setting up a digester and collecting the methane to burn.  Would likely be far nicer for cooking with.

Bamboo will burn but I don't know how good a fuel it would make, probably far more useful for building materials or fiber.
 
paul wheaton
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TCLynx wrote:
However, all this seems a little off to me.  Humanure composting is really quite easy and ....


I think there are parts of the Jenkins system that makes me nervous.  As an example:  Putting today's poop outside in the a compost pile in the rain.  I would worry about the rain carrying today's poop into the ground water. 

However, if I modify Jenkins system to separate the urine and then have less poop to deal with, I could save the poop, age it a bit, and put it on poop beasts in the spring.

Or, I could have a dry outhouse system with poop beasts nearby.


 
paul wheaton
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"poop beast" came from another thread here where somebody pushed up this pic:

 
                              
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paul wheaton wrote:
I think there are parts of the Jenkins system that makes me nervous.   As an example:  Putting today's poop outside in the a compost pile in the rain.  I would worry about the rain carrying today's poop into the ground water. 

However, if I modify Jenkins system to separate the urine and then have less poop to deal with, I could save the poop, age it a bit, and put it on poop beasts in the spring.

Or, I could have a dry outhouse system with poop beasts nearby.


Well, poop alone doesn't compost well and aging it just a bit doesn't really cut it.  Putting poop directly in contact with soil provides vectors for certain parasites to propagate.  The hot composting compost pile does a better job keeping stuff from leaching into the ground water than a non composting out house.  The compost does need to be managed properly (like throwing a cover over to reduce water going through the compost pile during torrential rains, I find a sheet of cardboard works just fine for this.)

Now if you want to separate some of the urine out of humanure compost for use around some plants, I can support that but it so far seems to me that about 50% of a person's urine is needed in the humanure compost to get the compost good and hot.  Just poops in a sawdust buckets tends to turn into sawdust coated turds that do little or nothing in the compost pile.

I had been skeptical when I first read the Humanure Handbook but then I had to try it to test it out for myself.  Adding new materials to the hot top center of the pile and then covering it generously with more cover material means the fresh poo is not likely to come into contact with rain that can leach anything bad beyond the pile.  Now an adequate size pile does make this much easier.  I have done it in barrels on a concrete patio and that is very difficult to manage.  A bin of 4' by 4' is much easier to manage moisture levels and the pile can achieve a size where it will almost fill up but be breaking down at a rate that you can continue adding to it for a long time before it actually does fill up.
 
paul wheaton
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It would seem that your knowledge set contains information that is different from my knowledge set.  I would appreciate the opportunity to share what is in my knowledge set in the hopes that we might both learn a bit more about this.

Well, poop alone doesn't compost well and aging it just a bit doesn't really cut it. 


Poop alone:  I'm not suggesting it is alone.  Poop and urine alone does not compost nearly as well as poop and sawdust.  I'm going to assume you meant that poop+urine+sawdust at just the right moisture level composts better than poop+sawdust that is dry.  And you are right.  And if you have poop+sawdust+water in just right amounts, you get just as good of composting.  Maybe better.  It all boils down to the good ole C:N ratio plus the right level of moisture and air. 

I think the point you are trying to make is that taking the urine out of the equation makes for a cooler compost.  The point I wish to make is that I think you can have a compost just as hot without the urine.

Aging it a bit:  that's right from jenkins' book.  In time the pathogens die.  I think he devoted a whole chapter to it.

Putting poop directly in contact with soil provides vectors for certain parasites to propagate. 


Please tell me more.  Especially any info about how the jenkin's poop+urine compost pile doesn't have these vectors but a dry outhouse does.


The hot composting compost pile does a better job keeping stuff from leaching into the ground water than a non composting out house.


I would say that a dry outhouse leaches nothing into the ground water.  That's a big part of the design.  It is my impression that a jenkins style compost pile leaches plenty.  Especially during the wet season.  This is one of my concerns over this approach.  I suppose one could attempt to construct a dry space for this level of composting.  And there can be a variety of designs to control excess water taking icky things to the ground water. 

As for "non composting out house" - I would have to say that I think it is going to compost.  It could be debatable about how hot of a compost it is.  If you wish to compare it to a jenkins pile, I think it is debatable as to which one will be hotter, on average.  I think one interesting point here is that a dry outhouse might actually compost hotter in the winter than a jenkins pile due to being less exposed and taking advantage of the thermal inertia of the surrounding earth.

The compost does need to be managed properly (like throwing a cover over to reduce water going through the compost pile during torrential rains, I find a sheet of cardboard works just fine for this.)


Again, I would very much like to learn more about this.  I can imagine cardboard extending three feet beyond every edge of the pile, that does a 99% job of keeping the pile drier.  And I can imagine a piece of cardboard that does not covers only the center, thus leading to no real change other than to keep the top, inner cubic foot a little drier than the rest of the soggy pile.

I suppose that "managed properly" is an important ingredient in any of the things we are talking about.  I hope that we don't attempt to compare system A (managed well) to system B (managed poorly).

I suppose another thing to think about is:  how much human discipline is required for each system for good results. 

And yet another metric:  what is "good results" made of?  As we compare these things, what makes a system "good"?

Now if you want to separate some of the urine out of humanure compost for use around some plants, I can support that but it so far seems to me that about 50% of a person's urine is needed in the humanure compost to get the compost good and hot.  Just poops in a sawdust buckets tends to turn into sawdust coated turds that do little or nothing in the compost pile.


I think that you can have a hot compost with zero urine.

I think that there may be times when dry poop is of more value.

I think that most systems that attempt to separate the urine will only manage to separate 90% of the urine.  Oh well.

 
                          
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Paul a very impressive reply, I agree with your coments whole heartedly
 
                              
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paul wheaton wrote:
Poop alone:  I'm not suggesting it is alone.   Poop and urine alone does not compost nearly as well as poop and sawdust.  I'm going to assume you meant that poop+urine+sawdust at just the right moisture level composts better than poop+sawdust that is dry.  And you are right.  And if you have poop+sawdust+water in just right amounts, you get just as good of composting.  Maybe better.  It all boils down to the good ole C:N ratio plus the right level of moisture and air. 

You are right, I was comparing the poo + urine + sawdust to a poo + sawdust (both with moisture added when placed in outdoor compost bin.  Now my info here is based on other peoples reports as I have never separated all the urine out.  It is likely that the situation in question my have had too much sawdust in relation to the poo and therefor too much C in relation to the little N in the poo.  In my experience, urine is a really good compost activator.


I think the point you are trying to make is that taking the urine out of the equation makes for a cooler compost.  The point I wish to make is that I think you can have a compost just as hot without the urine.

Yes you can have very hot compost without urine but in my experience, it is really easy to get with urine.


Aging it a bit:  that's right from jenkins' book.   In time the pathogens die.  I think he devoted a whole chapter to it.

Yes aging will eventually take care of almost all possible pathogens.  If there is no hot composting in the process, it should age for two years after the last addition to the "batch"  However if there is no composting and only aging is done, then I personally don't feel that two years is really enough depending on the temperatures involved (at freezing temperatures, round worm eggs can survive 4 years.)


Please tell me more.  Especially any info about how the jenkin's poop+urine compost pile doesn't have these vectors but a dry outhouse does.

I would say that a dry outhouse leaches nothing into the ground water.  That's a big part of the design.  It is my impression that a jenkins style compost pile leaches plenty.  Especially during the wet season.   This is one of my concerns over this approach.  I suppose one could attempt to construct a dry space for this level of composting.  And there can be a variety of designs to control excess water taking icky things to the ground water.   

Well, here I probably don't have the proper information about good safe outhouse design.  I was under the conception that the outhouse is bassically a hole in the ground with a house and a seat over it for one to do their business.  To me that meant poop landing on dirt in a hole in the ground.  Direct poop to dirt contact is one way certain types of unfavorable worms can propagate (round worm.) 


As for "non composting out house" - I would have to say that I think it is going to compost.  It could be debatable about how hot of a compost it is.  If you wish to compare it to a jenkins pile, I think it is debatable as to which one will be hotter, on average.   I think one interesting point here is that a dry outhouse might actually compost hotter in the winter than a jenkins pile due to being less exposed and taking advantage of the thermal inertia of the surrounding earth.

Again, I probably need to be educated about the current methods of a "dry outhouse" I've always thought of plain old outhouses as nasty things where people just go in the hole in the ground and they smell and there is nothing stopping leaching and the poo is in contact with the soil and there isn't anything special going on to make it a composting set up or manage C:N ratios or moisture or anything like that.  So when I say non composting out house I'm referring to the old fashion booth over the pit in the ground with no extra special composting features in mind.


Again, I would very much like to learn more about this.   I can imagine cardboard extending three feet beyond every edge of the pile, that does a 99% job of keeping the pile drier.  And I can imagine a piece of cardboard that does not covers only the center, thus leading to no real change other than to keep the top, inner cubic foot a little drier than the rest of the soggy pile.

Here in central Florida we get some heavy rains and yet, I've not had any trouble with my compost piles getting over wet or becoming what I would call soggy or even anaerobic.  (I have experienced the bottom of a worm bin getting anaerobic before so know that it is possible.)  But with an outdoor compost bin that uses lots of tree leaves as cover material......  All I've needed is a cover of cardboard over the top of the bin to shed water to the outside and the leaves are quite good at shedding water from the pile around the outside.  You do want to make sure the bottom of the bins are not going to be soaking in standing water during a heavy rain event and when you start a new pile, the bottom two feet of it should be filled with high carbon material to act as a sponge and collect the possible leachate from the first several buckets of humanure/sawdust added.  Once the pile heats up and gets going, any liquid being dumped in at the top, doesn't get to travel very far down as the lower layers of still warm/hot compost are very absorbent.


I suppose that "managed properly" is an important ingredient in any of the things we are talking about.   I hope that we don't attempt to compare system A (managed well) to system B (managed poorly).

I suppose another thing to think about is:  how much human discipline is required for each system for good results. 

Ya know, I think we can agree on this.  Yes, any system needs to be thought out and managed properly.


And yet another metric:  what is "good results" made of?  As we compare these things, what makes a system "good"?

I expect any system that works for the site/people involved and is safe/non polluting.


I think that you can have a hot compost with zero urine.

Yes, possible just requires different management to make it work.


I think that there may be times when dry poop is of more value.

Perhaps but I don't know of any unless you are talking about using rabbit poop to feed the worms.


I think that most systems that attempt to separate the urine will only manage to separate 90% of the urine.  Oh well.

Just curious, what is being done with the urine that is being separated?  As in why separate it?  Is it being used as fertilizer?  Or is it just so that the outhouse is dry?  If so then the urine just needs to be disposed of some other way.  Or if it is being used, what measures are being taken to deal with possible pathogens in the urine.
    I know, I'm starting a whole new topic here.  And don't get me wrong, I'm not against using urine for stuff but there are safety precautions that should be sorted out with that too even though urine is far safer that poo to handle, it can still carry pathogens with it.  Certain pathogens will be killed by leaving the urine sealed in a bottle for a certain period of time (urea converts to ammonia and the pH goes up and will kill the e. coli that is often present even in healthy people) however there are other pathogens that are not so easily killed.  Anyway, I did research on this while I was experimenting with "Pee Ponics" a couple years ago.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Paul:

I think a good compost pile transpires as much moisture as it can wick from the ground unless the rain is very heavy. I took the comment about covering the pile during torrential rain to mean only covering the pile itself, and trusting that the pile would stay thirsty enough to pull in water from the surrounding wet ground fast enough that no leaching would occur.

I often check on a pile after some rain, and find it still a little thirsty.
 
paul wheaton
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Yes you can have very hot compost without urine but in my experience, it is really easy to get with urine.


I wonder if we cut out 90% of the urine and cut back a bit on the sawdust, if we might have something that is just as easy, but less smelly, and has fewer pathogens.  Steinfeld's book does a good job of explaining the perks of keeping them separate.  And I'm pretty sure that this is what Ludwig advocates as well.

So, I guess where I'm going with this is that I think that you can get the same heat just as easy down either road.  So when one chooses a path, one examines the factors involved.  At this moment, I think that "hotter compost" and "easier" are two factors that are currently even-steven between the two.  But I could be wrong.

Yes aging will eventually take care of almost all possible pathogens.  If there is no hot composting in the process, it should age for two years after the last addition to the "batch"  However if there is no composting and only aging is done, then I personally don't feel that two years is really enough depending on the temperatures involved (at freezing temperatures, round worm eggs can survive 4 years.)


And even hot composting doesn't eliminate all of it - only most of it.  My feeble memory says that jenkins didn't mention this.  Maybe he did and I cannot remember it. 

I do, however, think that jenkins did a very good job of pointing out that we shouldn't be afraid of things that didn't exist (if nobody has roundworm, then there is no reason to fear it being in your poop).  Of course I suppose somebody could have round worm and not tell others.


Well, here I probably don't have the proper information about good safe outhouse design.  I was under the conception that the outhouse is bassically a hole in the ground with a house and a seat over it for one to do their business.  To me that meant poop landing on dirt in a hole in the ground.  Direct poop to dirt contact is one way certain types of unfavorable worms can propagate (round worm.)


Well, there are:

A)  outhouses made well

B)  outhouses made poorly

C)  dry outhouses made well, and

D)  dry outhouses made poorly

I need to put something together that covers this much better.

So when I say non composting out house I'm referring to the old fashion booth over the pit in the ground with no extra special composting features in mind.


I would think that the nastiest outhouse still composts.  Just .... in a less than optimal way. 

I would think that adding sawdust to any sub-optimal outhouse would improve things.  Most of the time, folks just don't know about the sawdust, or they are out of sawdust.

Here in central Florida we get some heavy rains and yet, I've not had any trouble with my compost piles getting over wet or becoming what I would call soggy or even anaerobic.


I guess my primary concern is not with the pile getting soggy or anaerobic ad much as it is that pathogens or NPK end up heading for the ground water.

Just curious, what is being done with the urine that is being separated?  As in why separate it?  Is it being used as fertilizer?  Or is it just so that the outhouse is dry?  If so then the urine just needs to be disposed of some other way.


A large and amazing topic. 

Some of it you and I already talked at great length about in this thread.

And a lot more covered in this thread.

There are lots of reasons.  The primary one being that when poop and pee are mixed, it makes things stinkier (and other problems) than when they are kept apart.  Steinfeld's book says "urine mixed with feces produces a malodorous compound - worse than each of its components alone. (Wolgast, 1993)"

Once separate, urine doesn't have to wait a year.  I trust it much more to be added to the food stream. 

I know, I'm starting a whole new topic here.  And don't get me wrong, I'm not against using urine for stuff but there are safety precautions that should be sorted out with that too even though urine is far safer that poo to handle, it can still carry pathogens with it.  Certain pathogens will be killed by leaving the urine sealed in a bottle for a certain period of time (urea converts to ammonia and the pH goes up and will kill the e. coli that is often present even in healthy people) however there are other pathogens that are not so easily killed.  Anyway, I did research on this while I was experimenting with "Pee Ponics" a couple years ago.


I should read the whole thing before commenting on stuff.

So you said some of the things I now said in my reply - like you already know the way my devious mind thinks!

Yes, there can be some pathogens in urine - but so few and so rare, that urine is generally recognized as "nearly always sterile".  Fresh urine is nearly always safer than composted poop.    This is a space that to fully grasp we would need to drag in a lot of math involving biology and probability.


 
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Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
I think a good compost pile transpires as much moisture as it can wick from the ground unless the rain is very heavy. I took the comment about covering the pile during torrential rain to mean only covering the pile itself, and trusting that the pile would stay thirsty enough to pull in water from the surrounding wet ground fast enough that no leaching would occur.

I often check on a pile after some rain, and find it still a little thirsty.


I think this would be a good one to dig a foot under the compost pile and count the NPK and the pathogens.  I suspect that it would be higher than a septic drainfield.


 
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paul wheaton wrote:
I think this would be a good one to dig a foot under the compost pile and count the NPK and the pathogens. I suspect that it would be higher than a septic drainfield.


I don't compost humanure. Not enough space.

The most suitable space I have is a 3-foot-wide stretch of pavement between the back of my house, and a tall fence with barbed wire.

If it were leaching, I would see the leachate on its way to the drain.  It doesn't, even when I add water the day after a rain storm. The worms that hang out at the bottom would probably like to move nutrients deeper for me, but the concrete seems to stop them.

That said, the land was an oak grove and/or a traditionally-managed pasture on heavy clay before it was a city, so the soil probably has fairly high NPK under all that pavement. 
 
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This topic is covered a bit in podcast 017

This podcast covers a LOT of different topics!

As mentioned at the beginning of the podcast: email signup.

We start off reviewing the movie "Food Matters".  The premise is that many diseases can be resolved by food choices.  And this has been discussed several times at the forums.  A good start is my thread on eliminating medication with polyculture; and the thread about beating  cancer

We talk about raw food; local food; the missoula urban demonstration project; composting toilets; outhouse; urine diversion; women peeing outdoors; hugelkultur; rain barrels; greywater; commercial compost; art ludwig; pee powered cars; jean pain technique; poop beasts.
 
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