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Growing directly in fresh humanure

 
gardener
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So what plants can grow in fresh poo?
 
steward
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Most plants that you do not plan to eat will do fine.
Insect attractors, dynamic accumulators, nitrogen fixers, etc.

Humanure may contain pathogens that may/could pass into human/livestock feed.


 
William Bronson
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Cool. I was thinking of cat tails for fuel, "sawdust " for bucket loos,stuff like that.
 
pollinator
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By fresh poo, you mean totally uncomposted? Covering with sawdust for example will prevent smells and fly problems. I think you need to be cautious about exposing uncomposted humanure to the air, or even to rodents that might track it around.

There is a concept called a treebog - basically a composting loo with dense willow (or similar) coppice around it. The willow roots feed from the nutrients leeching in the soil providing fuel and/or mulch materials.
 
pollinator
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I have use a simple bucket with sawdust or leafmold system for humanure for many years. I've never had much luck getting the resulting attempt at compost to heat up reliably, so I've always treated the result, whether fresh from the buckets or aged up to a couple of years, as fresh humanure. I've used it successfully in planting holes for permanent plants (or, in heavy clay soils, beside the plants), and deep under raised beds for vegetables (only vegetables that will be cooked, or that bear their yield well off the ground)....basically anywhere you can bury the manure several inches deep and not turn it back to the surface (or have it in danger of anything else, like animals, doing so either) for a year or more.
The basic principle to remember is that pathogens from humanure cannot translocate into and through the vascular system of a plant. There must be direct contact between the humanure and the food, such as might happen if the manure were applied on the surface and a rainstorm splashed it up onto low-growing vegetables. In parts of the world with indiscriminate sanitation practices, the transmission of diseases from soil into food is a minor pathway. The major pathways of contamination are 1. contaminated water, 2. contaminated hands, and 3. flies, which land on humanure and then directly onto food and food preparation areas.
 
William Bronson
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Just curious realiy. I envision a 250 gallon tote sub irrigated planter,with composting worms. Growing directly in it could speed turning the waste into useful product.

 
Michael Cox
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I'm struggling to see how it would work - do you have a clear plan in mind?

Various issues -

  • how do you harvest your cattails? Do you need to go wading through a crap filled bog? Do you need two setups, so one can have 6 months off to become safe to handle?


  • Hot compost - the sort you get when you add in plenty of sawdust to your urine and poo - breaks it down from stinky to unrecognisable friable brown compost in a couple of weeks, and also kills pathogens along the way. Hot compost also does a very good job of killing the roots of your plants, so it seems like you have an either/or situation. I know from experience that the hot compost really does work, as everything unpleasant is quickly covered and broken down.


  • How do you distribute solids to your plants? Presumably the aim would be for them to grow thickly so that the root zone is aerating the muck, so how then do you add new muck without yourself becoming "muck"


  • That said I can see benefits of a hybrid system - a hot compost heap planted around with nutrient accumulator plants that can be chopped and carried to garden beds and the like. Provided everything is working cleanly you could supply the nutrients from the humanure to your vegetables via the accumulator plants without ever risking contamination (although personally I've never had a fear of contamination from our own compost system).
     
    William Bronson
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    Ah,being in the city I am wary of an open humanure compost bin.
    My system, if it happens,would be a vermiculture rainwater flushed toilet.
    Making the rain water flushing system is a must. Using the waste is a maybe.
    If I had room for a urinal, that water would go straight to my garden beds.
    Everything must be made to fit into a "normal " lifestyle.
     
    Michael Cox
    pollinator
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    So you are thinking about a flushing toilet draining to a reed bed type system?

    I can't see how you would get solids to drain into a subterranean system. The pipes would just block up back to the toilet. Grey water systems use subsurface infiltration to supply liquid to the root zones of wetland plants in a gravel bed, but grey water doesn't typically carry the same solids load as a blackwater system. These systems need quite a large surface area for effective re-mediation of the water, and they are less effective in cold weather. Factor in that most cities have very stringent controls over how blackwater and grey water wastes are handled and I think you may be on to a non-starter.
     
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    Not knowing what your environmental context is you may consider investigating a Watson wick. I prefer dry composting toilets since we live in an arid environment.

    Also - I have noticed in my actively used chamber I get great colonies of mushrooms at times.
     
    William Bronson
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    Yeah,I am just tossing around ideas for using the humanure in my setting.
    I was kinda going for a Watson Wick in a box. Sounds like it's not workable.
     
    gardener
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    How would this work for an outside loo?
    1. I've seen pictures of using a large (like 4 foot diameter or larger) woven live willow basket so that the willow takes root and grows and can be harvested. (I believe it was an experiment in cheap water rehabilitation in Spain, but don't quote me.)
    2. Build this and line at least the bottom, but likely the sides with straw for extra absorption.
    3. park an outhouse on stilts over top of the basket.
    4. harvest the well-fertilized willow for mulch etc.

    It seems to me that you could poo/pee in the outhouse and have it drop straight into a growing medium that would suck up a lot of the nutrients. I suspect you would have to top your deposits with sawdust or you would attract flies. When you wanted to let the basket "rest" or if it somehow filled up, you could build a second one and shift the outhouse over top the new basket.

    So what do you all think: would the nitrogen levels just kill the willow?
    Would flies and rats be a problem even with sawdust covering?
    Would it be hard to keep the system at the right moisture content? For example, would the urine need some degree of dilution?

    We're on a septic system from a regular toilet system. I would love to have an alternative at least for summer use, but out current bathroom is too small to even add a bucket system to and we're definitely not at the point of a massive renovation as much as I'd love to be.

    J.
     
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    I've thought about this concept for some time.

    Picture your average bowl where deposits are made.  
    Both man-made and sawdust...
    Ideally I would use sawdust inoculated with healthy mycelium.
    Hazard of being a mushroom farmer, I use mushroom waste for everything.

    So this material drops straight down like 5", and then is pushed forward vertically through a 5"-8" tube.
    Moved forward with a piston style pump  manually operated. Maybe like a pump on the floor you step on.

    The layers of dookie and mycelium hemp sawdust moves forward with each piston pump and additional dookie layer.
    Now with a properly insulated pipe there ought to be a temperature increase enough to kill negative pathogens.

    cool things about mushrooms to keep in mind.
    》These tree loving fungi is a master of collecting oxygen.
    Now it's purpose is to be that oxygen for the poop pipe.
    》Another cool mushroom fact is that this mushroom is VERY good for us protein good carbs minerals antioxidants vitamin a b c d you get the idea.
    》Mushrooms love supporting good healthy things in our body and good healthy bacteria too.   Its proven to be one of the best prebiotics and great at removing free radicals.
    》You could then discern with logic that the same mushroom that supports our  HEALTHY BACTERIA would continue to support those healthy bacteria after it has left your body.  

    Ok mushroom rant over.  Let's continue down the poop pipe.

    This perhaps 30 ft long tube straight away from your house then deposits into some marshy land which is of course managed with a high carbon layer.  More sawdust/ hemp
    Thats how one can traverse any bog.  Mooooooore CARBON!

    Once moved out of the pipe it may not be 100% broken down but will still be an option for cattails and maybe willows on the high ground proceeding the marsh.

    So there it is.  The basic principle anyway.  
    Please feel free to criticize and nit pick.

    I would still like to think this is a real option to help the masses overcome the fear of poop, and to realistically address Humanure management that is viable safe and efficient.

    Mush love,
    Rachel the fungi farmer
     
    pollinator
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    Howdy Rachel and welcome to permies! That is a seriously good concept you've put out there. I'd love to see some adopters try this in various formats and report back with results.

    Would you go with a generalist species like Pleurotus? Or would you recommend the humble white button or portabello? There is a composting toilet "for emergencies" on the premises now (local councils are still a little bit touchy on the subject) and we have mountains of woody biomass.
     
    pollinator
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    A much more low tech idea. Comfrey grows well in straight manure and won't burn.
     
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