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Humanuer in soils

 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
Posts: 1703
Location: Western Washington
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I just found out my city has a program up and running which composts municipal sewage and yard waste for topsoils. I looked at it today and it certainly looked well mixed and full of organic contact. The city says its acceptable for vegetable production. The thing that would concern me the most would be metal accumulation. Is anyone using humaner as a soil builder? If so how do you incorporate it into your garden management?

I put this thread in Soil rather than humanure since this has been professionally processed and is being distributed as "topsoil"
 
Ken Peavey
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Location: FL
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I have a serious problem with the notion of using municipal sewage for growing vegetables. While the Public Works Department may follow the procedures as laid out in their processing manual, monitored temps and moisture, and even testing the resulting material for coliform bacteria, there's a whole lot more going into a municipal sewer system than feces and urine.

Every pill taken by every human in the town, plus their guests, plus every person from out of town using a public restroom. There are medications which don't break down readily in composting conditions, even hot, professionally monitored batches. Then there is everything people toss down the sink and flush down the toilet. Paint thinner, leftover pesticides found when cleaning the garage, that stuff they clean the tops of those fancy stoves with no burners, every hair tonic and shampoo known to man, grease and oil from handwashing, drain cleaners, rat poison, antifreeze...pretty much anything that will fit down the drain goes down the drain, plus the stuff the town adds to the water supply-corrosion inhibitors, chlorine, flouride, acetohalenes- to squeak it past the safe drinking water guidelines.

Let this stuff sit in the sewer system for a while in the heat of summer and humidity of enclosed pipes, gently mixing as it flows to the treatment plant. Add alum, salts defoamers and flocculants to try to clean it up. Float off some stuff, let other stuff precipitate out of solution, then separate the compostable solids from this chemical soup for use in making safe topsoil for your vegetables.

Next, you must trust your local budget constrained, under staffed government bureaucracy to test for safe levels of every toxin under the sun in order to then give the stuff away free or sell to the good people at a few bucks per truckload to save the cost of hazardous waste removal and storage.

Safe for vegetables?
Your call.
 
Rebecca Norman
gardener
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Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
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Likewise, municipal "yard waste"very likely has herbicides in it, that might inhibit growth of your vegetables. Lawns may be treated with herbicides to kill broadleaved plants (and thus would damage everything you grop except grains like corn, wheat or barley) and flower gardens might be treated to inhibit growth of grasses.
 
Landon Sunrich
pollinator
Posts: 1703
Location: Western Washington
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I think around here I wouldn't be so worried about the 'yard waste' as it mostly seems to be storm debree and people have been at least paying lip service to environmental 'no spray' for decades. The city for instance - does not spray. And that is a result of the community demanding it.

I am very concerned with all the stuff people put down pipes. The medications, the flea shampoo, draino. I think Ken may have scared me off for good and all. I think I'm going to catch a bus into town tomorrow and go see what sort of records I can get. They must be keeping track of at least some numbers on that. I still have the bare bones of Hugles waiting to be skinned in earth and cover cropped and boy is municipal compost cheep. In fact its free if 'you haul'.
Thanks for the replies - definitely steering my thoughts towards one direction.

Also isn't it awesome that the city is free to play around with composting humaner but I have to have a septic system or I'm breaking the law.
 
David Good
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Location: Equatorial tropics
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Yeah. Ken nailed it.

Heavy metals, toilet bowl cleaner, birth control hormones, etc.

There's a lot lot LOT of scary junk in the municipal supply.

I hate to say that, because I love the idea of reducing and reusing "waste." The problem is that the system, and our culture, is so very broken we almost have to jump out completely to live a life of good stewardship.

You could start by building your own humanure toilet and getting off at least a little of the municipal water supply if you'd really like to close the nutrient loop. We've done that off and on for years and never had issues with our health. Composting is an amazing and wonderful thing - and we grow some lovely veggies with the Horrible Awful Yucky Nasty Things most people don't want to think about.
 
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