Humanure Composting in the Tropics

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Composting Around the World: Humanure Composting in the Tropics
Author: Naomi Scott
Tuesday, May 01, 2001 - 7:26 pm
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Hi Joseph,
Thanks for writing such an enlightening book, I was recommended it by Earth Garden Magazine in Oz. My partner and I and our 5 yr old son are building a house here in Vanuatu and am integrating a sawdust loo, and grey water pond into the design. Hopefully it will catch on around our community as sanitation is a very big health issue here. Will keep you posted on how we get on. Just one question - we are sinking a well into the water lens (1 - 2m down) how far away would the greywater pond need to be? (The well water is not for drinking, just washing etc)
Thanks
Naomi, Adrian & Alastair.

Author: Robert Canning
Friday, May 18, 2001 - 1:15 pm
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Hello!

I live in northeastern Taiwan (technically the subtropics) and have recently begun humanure composting here. My brother sent me your book on humanure composting and within a week or two of finishing reading it, I had managed to find a plot of land on which to compost. I haven't used my flush toilet since. Thanks for the inspiring book. It really changed my whole outlook. I've included some of my own trial and error experiences here and will continue to do so in the future.

I've run into a couple of hitches due to my own ignorance. For one, I started off by using cedar sawdust. My brother told me over the phone that cedar takes a long time to decompose and therefor isn't the best choice (so I've put the remaining cedar out by the compost pile for now and may start using it when and if it ever starts to rot). Then I found another sawmill which used Alaskan hemlock. I bought one bag of sawdust from them, knowing that it also was probably not ideal for composting. Finally I found a mill that used hardwood. They let me go in and clean out their sawdust for free, which I do every other week or so.

I've also begun collecting leaves and other organic debris from parks around town, as the stuff gets thrown away otherwise. On the other hand, I never realized that most of the leftovers from stands and shops around town does get collected by farmers - for example, there are a lot of sugarcane vendors around. They sell sugarcane juice, sugarcane and coconut juice, as well. And people come around and collect the coconut shells and the sugarcane mash that's left over from making juice. Before I was interested in asking about such things, I would have thought people just threw the stuff away. That's one nice thing about Taiwan.

Taiwan gets a lot of rain, including typhoons and a sort of monsoon season. So far I've left my compost pile open to the elements, but I guess it'll have to be covered from time to time, in order to keep it from getting too waterlogged.

I have another question: While I try to buy more and more organically grown foods, I also still buy some fruit that is not organic. I still throw the peels into my compost bucket and don't worry too much about the pesticides that are on them, as I figure I've eaten worse, for one, and that thermophilic composting ought to break down the worst of the pesticide residues. Am I being too casual about this? A related question is, what about using non-organically-grown rice hulls as cover material? Organically-grown rice hulls are pretty hard to come by here - not that I'm giving up on looking for them.

I'd like to do something about my greywater, as well, but that's down the road a bit, as I don't have land on which to build a pond. For now, I settle with using biodegradeable soaps and cleaners and putting most of my dishwater in the kitchen-scraps bucket or the toilet bucket - an imperfect solution, at best.

Nonetheless, I'm loving it! For anyone who thinks it can't be done, I don't have any land of my own, but a couple days of asking around found me a big beautiful, overgrown plot of land that I can use for free until the owner decides to sell it! It was there for the asking.

Rob Canning

Author: Joe Jenkins
Saturday, May 19, 2001 - 10:01 am
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Hi Rob,

Nice to hear from you. Regarding non-organic fruits and rice hulls, I wouldn't worry about it. Most of the agricultural products in the US are non-organic and should be composted anyway. What else would we do with them? I have composted all of it in my compost for 22 years. Seems to work OK.

Author: Robert Canning
Tuesday, May 22, 2001 - 11:00 am
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Hi Joe,

Thanks for the helpful reply. I picked up some rice hulls today. I've been telling some of my friends, students and neighbors that I've started humanure composting. It's interesting to see their reactions. As far as I know, except for a good friend of mine who I've told about your book, and myself, there are a lot of composters, but aren't any other humanure composters in this part of Taiwan.

Best,

Rob in Taiwan

Author: kameroncox
Saturday, December 01, 2001 - 12:44 pm
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Hi Joe,
My husband and I live on a ranch in the interior of Venezuela. We are now in our dry season for the next six months and I am curious as to how much liquid needs to be added to our compost pile and how I know. We are using the composting toilet however since we are ranchers we are rarely at home to urinate. Also, when the rain comes again do we need to have a raised compost to protect it from the flooding? We are reading pieces of your book whenever we have access to a computer, which unfortunately means we have not had the privilage of having it at our disposal for reference.

Author: skip ruth
Wednesday, May 15, 2002 - 8:34 am
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Hi! I've just returned from a two week medical mission trip to Honduras. The small village has no sanitary disposal system for human waste. Humanure composting seems ideal. They have just received a medical clinic made out of a cargo container. It is amazing....BUT the disposal of human waste in the toilet that must be nearby it is a problem. We MUST demonstrate responsible disposal methods and the humanure composting seems made to order. Parasites are endemic, but "The Handbook" deals with that well. The cover material for the bucket is our problem. There is no money to speak of and no sawdust, either. Has anyone any thoughts or experience in similar situations? Thanks

Author: saths
Wednesday, May 15, 2002 - 9:43 am
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There is a discussion about someone who didn't have cover materials under "straddling the trench" on this messageboard.

Author: skip ruth
Wednesday, May 15, 2002 - 12:27 pm
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Thanks, saths. I went and read that info. Unfortunately, this population is VERY diseased. Worms are a major problem. Just pooping into a trench is not going to kill the ova and larvae and is no better than just letting it flow into the fields, which is done now. I believe thermophilic composting is necessary to kill the parasites.

Author: saths
Wednesday, May 15, 2002 - 1:50 pm
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Could seeds be scattered in the humanured field to use it as fertilizer for the growing seeds?

Author: Rod
Monday, October 18, 2004 - 3:46 am
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skip ruth, sounds like maybe a solar toilet that fries the stuff may be a better bet.

Info here;
http://www.earthship.com/staticpages/index.php?page=solar-toilet

I'm hoping to start humanure in Japan - plenty of rice husks and dry grass available here.

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