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Human manure
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nettie



Joined: 02 Dec 2004
Posts: 5886
Location: Suffolk
PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 05 9:05 pm    Post subject: Human manure  Reply with quote    

Over the last couple of weeks I've smelt pig manure and cow manure wafting across the breeze from our local fields. Today I smelt something more akin to dog poo.

I've just had a friend round for dinner who rides with a friend who's a farmer, and this farmer is apparently being encouraged to use human waste on her crops.

Please tell me I just had a bad dream!!!

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25697
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 05 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

AFAIK sludge from treatment works is used but I'd like to know more. I'm sure human waste has also been used in peat free potting composts, which has put me off using some.

Bernie66



Joined: 14 Jan 2005
Posts: 13967
Location: Eastoft
PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 05 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Treacodactyl wrote:
AFAIK sludge from treatment works is used but I'd like to know more. I'm sure human waste has also been used in peat free potting composts, which has put me off using some.



Yum,Yum food miles don't sound as bad after all if you can guarantee they don't do that abroad!!!!

Treacodactyl
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 25697
Location: Jumping on the bandwagon of opportunism
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 05 5:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I bet they do though, especially countries with less coast than we have.

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 05 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

The problem with humans in settlements is that they produce more sewage than can be handled locally. So we pipe it all off to sewage plants.

Then, we settle it, treat it in activated sludge tanks, aerate it and do the same again. The principle is that bacteria eat the crappy bits (and in fact, ARE the crappy bits), they're eaten by flagellates and cilliates, and rotifers eat the whole bally lot of them. At each trophic level (every step on the food web) you lose some mass, it's released as carbon dioxide or another waste gas. You recycle some of the sludge from part treated matter to inoculate the right microbes in new batches.

So you've got less horrid sludgy stuff at the end. Sounds simple, but it's one of the most complex microbial processes known to man, and as a set of technologies it was developed more than a century ago and has hardly been improved upon since.

The liquid is released when it's clean enough; it has to go somewhere, so it is tested for things like phosphate, nitrate, particulates etc. Then it can go to further treatment for reclaiming or be released into waterways.

The sludge, well, by this point it's been so thoroughly modified that the number of potential pathogens left in it is very low. It smells... Bad. But it doesn't smell like human fecal matter any more. It can be safely spread over fields, and this is indeed done, but increasingly many people are (in my view irrationally) opposed to this. It has to go somewhere, it doesn't just vanish

judith



Joined: 16 Dec 2004
Posts: 22789
Location: Montgomeryshire
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 05 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I bought a couple of bags of cheapo non-peat compost this year (I really must stop doing that), without really giving any thought to its actual composition.
When I sow seeds outdoors, I normally make a trench, water it, sow the seeds and then cover with compost rather than soil, so I can see where I have sown. Shortly into the growing season, I started noticing lots of tomato seedlings coming up all over the place. It took a while, but it gradually sank in where the seeds had come from
I don't know whether to be cross at the very poorly sterilised compost that I bought or amazed at the resilience of the tomato seeds!
Anyway, I let four plants grow just to see what happened, and one is just starting to set fruit. I wonder if it will taste any different

JB



Joined: 08 Jun 2005
Posts: 7748
Location: 91 N
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 05 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

... and for those who believe in self sufficiency, amazon have this!

Last edited by JB on Thu Aug 04, 05 8:50 am; edited 1 time in total

Bernie66



Joined: 14 Jan 2005
Posts: 13967
Location: Eastoft
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 05 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

But wear rubber gloves if you buy it second hand

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10744

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 05 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Judith wrote:
Shortly into the growing season, I started noticing lots of tomato seedlings coming up all over the place. It took a while, but it gradually sank in where the seeds had come from


... well, saves on the postage for seed swapping I suppose

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10744

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 05 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Bernie66 wrote:
But wear rubber gloves if you buy it second hand



judith



Joined: 16 Dec 2004
Posts: 22789
Location: Montgomeryshire
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 05 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

JB wrote:
... and for those who believe is self sufficiency, amazon have this!


I think the author has actually published it on the net somewhere. I remember reading part of it a while ago.

nettie



Joined: 02 Dec 2004
Posts: 5886
Location: Suffolk
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 05 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

The only problem is, it really did smell like a raw sewage smell yesterday!!!!

Behemoth



Joined: 01 Dec 2004
Posts: 19023
Location: Leeds
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 05 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

If treated properly it shouldn't smell too bad. There are also strict regulations on how and when it is applied to land so if it's giving you problems get onto the EA and or Env Health.

Disposal to land is a cheap disposal method and environmentally beneficial - the alternative is to dumpt it or burn it, both expensive although you can generate a modest amount of elctricity form it (which we do). Some supermarkets specify that it can't be used on crops destined for their shelves as this may result in bad PR, so artificial fertilizers are used instead.

Increasingly we're looking at mixing it with green waste from forestry/landscaping activities and composting it. The temperatures generated kill nearly all pathogens (and tomato seeds!) and it is actually 'cleaner' than the soil on which it will be appllied. It's cracking stuff and I've used it on my allotment and will be using it in my garden to revitaslise the victorian builders rubble. It looks like the non-peat based compost you get at B&Q.

Unfortunately we are having difficulty marketing the stuff as it comes under Env Regs as industrial waste as it's the result of an 'industrial process' and therefore if its sold the user has to ensure that it's diposed of properly and becomes subject to env testing and enforcement. Hence we give it away.

cab



Joined: 01 Nov 2004
Posts: 32429

PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 05 10:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

nettie wrote:
The only problem is, it really did smell like a raw sewage smell yesterday!!!!


If someone IS spreading raw human waste, it's a serious matter (no pun intended). It seems more likely that it's pig muck (which can on occasion have a very human undertone to it).

monkey1973



Joined: 17 Jan 2005
Posts: 683
Location: Bonnie scotland
PostPosted: Thu Aug 04, 05 10:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Behemoth wrote:
the alternative is to dumpt it or burn it, both expensive although you can generate a modest amount of electricity form it (which we do).


I believe new EU legislation is about to outlaw the burning of human fecal matter for the next three years. Scottish Power are currently preparing for this by providing new bagging facilities to bag and then store the poo pellets. They hope that in three years time when the legislation is reviewed that there will be a change in favour of burning again.

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