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animal Fecal Pit: solutions?

 
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At a local animal shelter that i help out at, their solution for dog poop has been to dump it all in a concrete lined pit. Dumping the buckets of poop after cleaning pens is universally considered the worst job in the shelter.

I had an epiphany as i was reading about humanure composting. I was about to send the following message to a more senior volunteer but thought better of it since she has many, much more important things to worry about right now.



I have been reading a lot about "humanure" (human fecal matter) composting. Done properly, it should kill pathogens and (more relevantly) have almost no smell. I thought about the big, nasty poop pit at the shelter and how you were complaining about it being so nasty.

I could get really really long winded about this since i have spent hours reading about it, but put simply, if we dumped a healthy quantity of straw in there, enough to cover it completely, and then cover each new deposit with sawdust, it should all but eliminate the smell. a weekly addition of straw would also help (coarse material traps oxygen inside which in turn helps it decompose). It should also be able to bring the temperature in that pit to excess of 160 degrees F, effectively making it sanitary compost that can be simply dumped in the jungle or, better yet, be used in ornamental gardens and fruit orchards (most people would rather not risk using dog poop compost in their vegetable garden).

Furthermore, it might never have to be emptied if a fast growing, nitrogen hungry grass like bamboo or corn had root access to the pit. I'm not sure how this would work since the pit is lined with concrete (is that correct?). Perhaps if there were trees planted nearby with the intention that the roots would penetrate the concrete, into the pit it might be practical.



Most of you probably understand that I am suggesting we add some carbon in there so that it heats up and cuts down on the smell then adding plant as a sort of tree swamp system.

Do any of you folks have anything to add to this? What other ways might I give plants access to the Fecal Pit?
 
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Location: North Woods MN
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Smell is caused by nitrogen loss. At least that is what Salatin says. The more carbon you can get in there the better. You can tell if you have enough carbon if you can't smell the shit. And you can tell if you have too much if the temperature starts to drop. So a long ass compost thermometer is recommended. It will need moisture too. You can read the entire humanure handbook online for free you just have to download the chapters one at a time off the website.

We compost everything in our humanure bins. Any food scraps that the chickens/dog/cat won't eat(not much) Human shit, Dog shit, cat shit, meat, dead chickens, dead mice, We also start a new bin every spring with the winter coop clean out. As we deep bed in there all winter. All you need is a big enough pile, ours are about 4x4x4 Thanks to some free pallets that we just screwed together. And We use straw, grass clippings, sawdust (from a locally owned lumber mill), and a cat litter called swheat scoop for our carbon.

So yes this would totally work. Having concrete all around it might make it water logged if your in a very wet environment. It needs moisture sure, but it can get overly wet. But this is not very likely. I would not worry about anything surviving the heat of composting. So invasive nitrogen lovers likely won't take over. And if there is no worm access you might want to seed the pit with worms in the second year of composting. Once the pile has stopped it's thermal composting worms can help ensure there is no remaining bacterial issues. Their guts have a way of breaking down damn near everything
 
pollinator
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Location: northern California
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I've tried managing humanure compost every which way and have never managed to get it to noticeably heat up. The only thing I haven't done is put urine into it, we divert this into other containers, since it is such a valuable, and usually clean, source of N for topdressing plants. Instead I rely on a long (2 years) slow cool compost, and reserve this compost for under or beside permanent trees and perennials, and in the very bottoms of deep raised beds, which are allocated their first year only to crops for cooking. I've even direct-buried humanure buckets under new trees, or in holes beside them in our current stiff poorly draining clay (in which you want no amendments whatsoever in the planting holes)
If you have a use for insects as feed, and a climate amenable to it, black soldier fly grubs will take an immmediate feed yield from any kind of manure, but especially protein rich manures like humans and pets. They are a favorite of poultry and fish, and the residue left is significantly reduced in odor and volume, and can the be shunted off to a compost or burial system.
In summary, that smelly sump of dog manure is a valuable nutrient resource going to waste.....
 
dan long
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Alder Burns wrote: In summary, that smelly sump of dog manure is a valuable nutrient resource going to waste.....



I agree. However, i dont run the shelter and ill be gone in 4 months. It would be a really tough sell to the people that run it, and they are unlikely to be willing to put in any of the time to set up such a system (although you and i know that time is negligible). People in general are pretty scared of poop and don't know what to do with it other than tuck it in a corner and never speak of it again. Having them handle to poo at all is very unlikely. They are much more willing to have a truck come suck it out of the tank when it gets full.

Yes. A HUGE waste.
 
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Location: Off-grid in Terlingua, TX
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We bokashi compost ours.... stole the idea from these folks:

http://www.bokashicycle.com/petcycle.html
 
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