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Leaf and urine bucket failure  RSS feed

 
Rebecca Norman
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We decided to solve the problem of going out to the outhouse in the cold winter night. We just collected dry autumn leaves and packed them into a plastic barrel in the attached greenhouse. He made direct contributions, she used an old tin can. Ha ha, great, we thought! Wonderful compost will result by springtime, we thought! Since we only used it at night we hoped it wouldn't get too soggy and anaerobic at the bottom if we stirred it with a stick and added dry leaves sometimes, we thought! But we were wrong. Now in spring it has several inches of the most foul smelling liquid at the bottom, and the leaves down there are all yellow and slimy and anaerobic. When we stir it, it makes the whole attached house smell like a humongous fart!

Okay, next winter maybe we'll try a raised plastic mesh floor in the bottom of a plastic barrel, with pipes for ventilation. Or maybe even a drain. Any suggestions?
 
Viktor Gruber
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Location: Austria (Zone 5)
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I considered doing something similar with biochar, but I don't know how it would work out. I imagined that it would dry out and leave biochar with N in it, but alas, I think it won't dry in winter.

but thinking about it, I guess I'd just let the urine freeze in winter and do the composting or fertilizing in spring.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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Give biochar a try, but I'd strongly recommend you put a false floor of plastic mesh and some way to drain off excess liquid, and some way to get air under it.

These people in Australia have a ventilated false floor in their bins that looks good. I'm waiting to hear the follow-up over years.
http://milkwood.net/2011/04/18/compost-toilet-specifics-the-bins/

Freezing -- I didn't think of that. Might be worth a try. The other problem is we wanted discretion. Not pouring a huge jug of yellow liquid into the canal at irrigation time, but a discreet bucket of nice leaf-mouldy compost. See, we're teachers at a residential school, so um ...
 
Alder Burns
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You need something more absorbent than leaves.....how about sawdust or even shredded paper or punky rotten pulverized wood. Wheat or rice chaff? Biochar is good too if finely ground or powdered and relatively, but not completely dry. (Completely dry might repel liquid and just let it drain on through. Then, you need to dump the whole bucket over into a second bucket from time to time, inverting any soggy layer from the bottom to the top. But still, two people would saturate a five-gallon bucket in a week's time, if not less. Perhaps you need to take jugs of urine, discreetly, to a larger outdoor compost area.
 
Ollie Puddlemaker
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I been experimenting with this topic, too. I've found that bottling up the urine does not allow it to oxidize and no loss of nitrogen or odor of ammonia. So, on rotation (first in/first out), when I want to use it as fertilizer or charge bio-char or whatever, I can think of. I just grab a bottle and figure the ratio for what I'm wanting to use it for. It has solved my problem(s), no more wasted plant nutrients, zero cost and no social problems...just recycle and reuse.
 
Josh T-Hansen
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quart mason jar, then you dont even need to leave the bedroom. empty it in the morning and it wont be too bad. after awhile the jar will smell upon opening even if empty but it wont taint a room.
 
Chris Kott
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Would there be a benefit to introducing lactobacillus to the absorbency medium, kind of like an urine bokashi setup? When applied to chicken coop deep-litter setups, I've heard that it completely eliminates ammonia smell. Would that work here?

-CK
 
Kate McCullagh
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For comfort, I have a bucket, set up under a disability lavatory seat, and I either empty it as is, or add about 5 X water. Citrus trees love wee. I also add it to compost. I'm not wasting water on unnecessary flushes. If you have visitors that day, maybe put some sand in the bucket, then put in compost? Or tip sheep manure in, enough to soak up the urine, then tip out and rinse at the end of the day, for the night ahead. Maybe get a bucket with a lid, to empty, with visitors and ask them to fetch something, when you want to pour out. If you bury a pipe, 3 to 6 " wide, 4' down, every time you plant a tree, you can pour wee down the hole, to feed the tree. BUT please put an empty tin can over pipe, at top, to ensure nothing goes/falls down and also, to prevent evaporation. If you do a 6 to 12 inch pipe, you can put kitchen scraps, dog poo, etc down the hole, and if you watch it over months, you will know how often you can put more in, to be eaten by worms. I usually put about a foot of fill in, and a bucket of water, to help the worms. I try to remember to pour a bucket down the compost pipes, once a week. If I could, it would be every 2nd day. Use an old bucket, with a crack, or with broken handle, to put over the top.

I can't help thinking that tipping dry sheep poo, and maybe sawdust, and leaves, would soak up wee, but even so, you have to mix it and get air into it, or it will be really rank. I think just sitting in a bin, you'd be better off emptying it atleast once a week.
 
Ollie Puddlemaker
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Chris Kott wrote:Would there be a benefit to introducing lactobacillus to the absorbency medium, kind of like an urine bokashi setup? When applied to chicken coop deep-litter setups, I've heard that it completely eliminates ammonia smell. Would that work here?

-CK


That would be something to try...I'm understanding that you are not just leaving/storing as a liquid, but are adding the sawdust, bio-char or equivalent. Still would seem to work, wold have to monitor the moisture content, keep plenty of carbon to maintain balance.
 
Ollie Puddlemaker
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Ollie Puddlemaker wrote:
Chris Kott wrote:Would there be a benefit to introducing lactobacillus to the absorbency medium, kind of like an urine bokashi setup? When applied to chicken coop deep-litter setups, I've heard that it completely eliminates ammonia smell. Would that work here?

-CK


That would be something to try...I'm understanding that you are not just leaving/storing as a liquid, but are adding the sawdust, bio-char or equivalent. Still would seem to work, wold have to monitor the moisture content, keep plenty of carbon to maintain balance.


I think, I've figured it out or almost figured it out. If you plan/need to store urine in a container, you should use smaller to fill a larger, you must limit air contact and therefore, oxidation. So, maybe using something like...filling 20 oz. recycled water bottles, to then refill a gallon milk jug. Everything needs to be as full as possible to limit/reduce air space. Dilute and use as needed/wanted. Make sense? Or a better way, tho' more steps/involved. You can use the urine to charge or ferment your biochar. In doing so, you satisfy biochar's affinity to attract and hold onto nutrients, as well as, use its moisture and nutrient-holding capacity to enrich soils. Given the high-carbon ratio of biochar, it would also make a good carbon source for your humanure. Adding rice rinse/milk-based LAB (Lacto-bacillus) either fresh or stabilized to the biochar and urine will give the microbes a great home and a wonderful food source. The biochar will reach a threshold capacity; however, the LAB will use the high-surface area as a colonizing substrate and process and cycle the urine's nitrogen content. The ammonia problem is solved by the LAB, as it is a preferred food source. If anyone, would like the text information on making the LAB, PM me...it's very much like what you'd make for your homemade EM used in Bokashi-making and taken a few steps further. If you're more visual in learning, go to Bryan McGrath's Prokashi.com and look at his Natural Korean Farming videos. These were the basis that brought us to where we are today in this evoloution of recycling humanure and urine into soil. geoff lawton has stated that there are 50 million bacteria and fungi each that normally breakdown/process compost, which will convert toxins to an inert form, if we can add LAB, it will only hasten and intensify the process. We, then, have a super, nutrient-rich medium to use in our gardens, orchards and fields, however, we wish...
 
Chris Kott
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I was thinking much along the same lines, but thanks for addressing the issue so thoroughly, Ollie.

-CK
 
Burra Maluca
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Rebecca Norman,
Your post was moved to a new topic.
 
Chris Kott
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So would it be possible to use, say, woodchips innoculated with a LAB culture in the bucket? I figure there are enough plant nutrient and mineral resources in the chips, and plenty of carbon, to culture them over the period between bucket cleanings, and you'd want to start with a freshly innoculated batch every time, I think, but would that do the trick, then?

-CK
 
Ollie Puddlemaker
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Chris Kott wrote:So would it be possible to use, say, woodchips innoculated with a LAB culture in the bucket? I figure there are enough plant nutrient and mineral resources in the chips, and plenty of carbon, to culture them over the period between bucket cleanings, and you'd want to start with a freshly innoculated batch every time, I think, but would that do the trick, then?

-CK


Yes, I believe so...the wood chips are just like bran, sawdust or chopped hay, only larger. Yes, you have to make a new, fresh innoculate every time, you cannot reuse, because it is spent. just like you can't use bokashi leachate to start a new bokashi cycle.
 
Brett Andrzejewski
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While I have no experience in the subject, I have read about it. The wonderful book, The Humanure Handbook, recommends using a more absorbent material than leaves. The author of the book recommends a semi-moist absorbent material. The sawdust from non pressure treated wood, rice hulls, rotten pulverized wood, sugarcane bagasse (used in Haiti and regions were sugarcane is grown), sweet sorghum bagasse.

Here's a link to the book's website below:
http://humanurehandbook.com/

I have worked with biochar and used urine to charge the biochar and it does not completely absorb all the liquid. I think there is too much residual lignin (hydrophobic) and it is really dry for it absorb liquid. Perhaps if it if partially moist or pre-wetted it would absorb more. Like a sponge, it will hold more water when partially wet.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Yes, I've read and love the Humanure Handbook!

But two things. One is we don't really want to make a full indoor toilet, only for urine at night, and I think sawdust will still have the same problem leaves do, of going anaerobic down in the bottom. And biomass is so scarce here in this high desert that even sawdust is hard to come by, and has to be bought.

Leaves or sawdust would work fine if we were willing to take the bucket out every few days asJoe Jenkins would do, and we could dump it down the big outdoor composting toilets. But two things -- one is that people here think an outhouse composting toilet is absolutely normal and keeping a pee bucket in the attached greenhouse would be laughed about, and another is that I've got a bad back and prefer to avoid lugging heavy wet buckets.
 
Chris Kott
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One reason I figured biochar might work is that propensity to retain air pockets. Would that not keep it from going anaerobic?

-CK
 
Brett Andrzejewski
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Would biochar keep it from going anaerobic? I don't know.

As for cover material in a desert type environment. I have wondered this myself, living in the high desert of New Mexico. I have been wondering if there was a way to prepare the native grasses in the area to hold more moisture and absorb it rather than having solid - liquid separation. If I ever experiment, and get good results, I'll certainly post on this forum.
 
Milan Broz
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Maybe, if you have enough space, you can build a reed bed inside your bathroom (any room), and fill it with a pee and other grey water. Water never leaves the house, but mulch do.
 
Robert Fairchild
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Location: Kentucky, USA
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Urine in buckets of biochar does great. A friend in NH has been doing it in his attached solar greenhouse the winter for years. He makes tons of biochar from woodchips. I sift char from my wood ashes, fill buckets, and pour in urine. Any acid will inhibit urease (the enzyme that breaks down urea into ammonia). I use phosphoric acid - often found as grout cleaner, my soils are phosphorus deficient. If you smell ammonia, you're losing nitrogen!
Bob
P.S. I worked with Helena in Ladakh in 1983 and 1984
 
Robert Fairchild
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It is also possible to crystallize out the nitrogen and phosphorus from urine with the addition of magnesium. The reaction forms the mineral 'struvite':
http://www.sswm.info/content/struvite-0
Here in Kentucky, magnesium oxide is a common additive to cattle feed and is widely and cheaply available.
 
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