Humanure Composting

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Composting Around the World: Humanure Composting
Author: Jonathanwysong (Jonathanwysong)
Wednesday, January 12, 2011 - 4:54 pm
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I read the Humanure Handbook and did my best to follow the intructions therein. I was making deposits every other day and adding straw each time because I thought the pile needed the straw to help admit oxygen. After viewing the video that Nancy recommended, I put plastic over my ongoing tall pile (per her recommendation) and started a new pile in the other side of my composting hacienda. I now take three Lovable Lou cans plus the kitchen can every 6 or 7 days. I hollow out the middle of the pile down to last weeks deposit, make the new deposit, push back the old straw and add a little new straw. There is now very little straw actually mixing with the deposits since the straw gets removed each week and then replaced after the new deposit. The new pile was at 92 degrees yesterday with an outside temperature in the low 40's. The new pile is only 3-4 weeks old. I hope that I am doing it right now and that it will really heat up. It is much easier on me to make deposits once a week instead of every other day. Once again thank you for your suggestions.

Author: Nancybeetoo (Nancybeetoo)
Saturday, January 01, 2011 - 1:59 pm
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I'd be curious to see if people who can get a non- humanure pile to heat up learn more quickly to manage a humanure pile.

In my view and experience, having a well managed compost pile is kind of like having a pet or houseplants. It needs care and observation. People who pay attention are more successful than people who don't pay attention.

I organize composting for a community of 34 households. I see some people just dump their food waste and go, while other people dump and then stick around to poke at the pile, add a few leaves and generally engage with the process.

Nancy

Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Sunday, December 26, 2010 - 1:38 am
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Referring to one of my recent posts, my 7 week sojourn in Nepal is almost at an end. I have see much of the toilet facilities in this country, but don't know of any trials in the Humanure department.
If I was to ever introduce such a system, I would want to be there for a year, to oversee its implementation. From the numerous posts on this topic, and from practical experience, it is a somewhat hit-or-miss situation getting the thermophilic conditions. As someone has mentioned, it's an art-form, supported by good science.
Therefore, to introduce the Humanure system to a community which is not used to it, or ready for it, could be very much counter-productive, making for rejection of it long-term.
Would anyone like to comment on this?

Author: Test2 (Test2)
Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 10:41 pm
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By training I did not mean anything than other than reading and following the instruction sheet. That sheet I think is at the humanmanure website.

Compost piles should be damp like a rung out sponge. But, now that you will be dumping the buckets and the rinse water in the center of pile, at least that area should get damp enough and decompose more quickly than it has been.

Cutting back a somewhat on the bucket cover material and pile cover material (up to a point) should help too. I think I read someplace that peat moss is a little resistant to decomposing, in fact having anti-microbe properties.

Despite all the above, you may be adding buckets faster than it can decompose. Even if the material was damp, it does take time for it to decompose. My pile is steaming hot, but it still takes a long time for it reduce in size.

Try adding a thin layer of soil over the whole pile. That could speed up the inoculation of the pile. It can't hurt.

Most people try to avoid a pyramid shaped pile. (I think for more even insulation, more even rain water distribution, and help reduce runoff). So you can cheat a little by dumping bucket contents in the center as well as a ring around the center of the pile.

When you pile gets a good water soaking, I bet it will heat up fairly soon after. I would not worry about it - compost happens.

Author: Jonathanwysong (Jonathanwysong)
Friday, December 17, 2010 - 5:54 pm
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Yes, urine is going into the bucket. We are new to humanure composting so none of us are experienced "trainers".

Author: Jonathanwysong (Jonathanwysong)
Friday, December 17, 2010 - 5:49 pm
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Thank you for the suggestions. I watched the video, which was helpful. I haven't been making the depression in the top of the pile as Mr. Jenkins demonstrates in this video. The Lovable Lou cover material I used first was moist sawdust. I haven't had time to look for sawdust in this area (we just moved here in July) so I'm using peat moss which is pretty dry.

Author: Test2 (Test2)
Sunday, December 12, 2010 - 1:04 am
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1) What cover material are you using in the buckets ?

2) Is urine and manure going into the bucket ? If urine is not, it should be saved seperately and added to the compost pile.

3) Are the people using the buckets trained in their use ?

When I first started using buckets it smelled right after excretion. ( I think the degree of smell will depend on cover material. A plain toilet uses water, but even they smell right after I excrete and even after I flush). Well of course it will smell, but to compensate I over used cover material to stop the smell. Even if you sealed the bucket shut the smell lingers a while. I learned to cut down the amount of cover material.

4) Nancybeetoo's suggestions makes sense. The pile will not be wasted. One year after closing it off it will be ready for use: flowers, bushs, tree. However, the handbook and others say dont use it for vegetables. I am not convinced thats true for all vegis and especially if the manure was from a non diseased population. If the material is buried is it really possible for the compost to cause harm to trellised: tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, melons, grapes ... I am not convinced that it could !

Author: Nancybeetoo (Nancybeetoo)
Saturday, December 11, 2010 - 6:01 pm
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I am guessing that 2-4 flakes of straw is adding too much dry carbon.

If you watch the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmNERBwCnMs again, you will see that before adding buckets to the pile Joe spends a few minutes pulling the cover to the edges and then pulling more material towards the edge so that a bowl is created in the middle of the pile. The buckets get emptied into that bowl and then the cover is pulled back over the middle of the pile. The straw/weeds cover material keeps the freshly added material insulated and protected from animals.

My suggestion would be cover the old pile with a tarp or plastic sheet (to hold moisture in) and leave it to reduce in bulk. You can build a new pile and try using different amounts of cover material.

Humanure composting is a learned skill. I think it takes a year or so to learn how to reliably and repeatably get the results you want.
Nancy

Author: Jonathanwysong (Jonathanwysong)
Saturday, December 11, 2010 - 1:43 pm
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Dear Mr. Jenkins:

I built a Lovable Lou and a composting hacienda per your Humanure Handbook. We are a family of four and fill Lovable Lou every other day. We started deliveries to the composting hacienda on September 3. I spread 2-4 sections of a square bale of straw over the deposit every other day. The pile is now about six feet tall in the middle where I dump. I can barely dump the buckets on the top. The sides of the composting hacienda are about five feet high.

Temperatures were running 107-120 degrees. Recently, however, temperatures have dropped dramatically. Yesterday it was about 85 degrees. I suspect that the pile is too dry. We are in a drought here in Texas, so the pile hasn't gotten any rain water. In addition, we don't have running water at the property yet. We are hauling all our water in 5-gallon buckets, so I don't have the energy to dump water on the pile. My 55-gallon drum at the composting hacienda for bucket washing, however, is still about half full.

Do you have any suggestions?

Thank you.
Jonathan Wysong

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