Contamination of compost pile from le...

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: General Composting Issues: Contamination of compost pile from leaching
Author: Wayne
Monday, June 26, 2006 - 10:27 am
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Unless somebody really knows and says otherwise, I wouldn't worry about it in the least! I often see a white ashy looking substance when I pull back the cover material to add more humanure and kitchen compost. A compost pile is a rich system of bio-diversity. Nothing to worry about,IMO...

Author: Jan Nelson
Sunday, June 25, 2006 - 2:06 pm
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I have white mold on my compost. Is this dangerous or is it productive to compost? What should I do? Jan

Author: Chris
Thursday, July 01, 2004 - 4:41 pm
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Hello,
I live in the city on a 25' by 100' lot and have been composting our sh*t for 6 months. My experience has been that the whole operation is remarkably clean and not more labor intensive than collecting, sorting and placing our recycling at the curb. I am convinced that humanure composting is a far more appropriate technology than creating sewage, however I have several questions regarding the method described in the humanure handbook. First, What prevents pathogens from leaching from the top fresh layer of a compost pile into the bottom heat treated layers of the pile?
Second, how can you be sure that the periphery of the compost pile is heat treated? Third, recent research shows that lettuce plants can uptake E-coli through their roots. Does this mean I can't have a garden near my compost pile? I would like to have clear, convincing and definitive answers to these questions when my neighbor asks me about my compost pile.

Thankyou,
Chris

Author: admin
Friday, July 02, 2004 - 4:47 pm
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You won't have clear, convincing and definitive answers to these questions until you or someone else actually does the research and provides the answers. One thing you could do is have your finished compost tested for indicator pathogens. If none exist, then you can attribute it to microscopic and macroscopic activity, the aging period, the feedstock, etc. In any case, then the questions no longer need answered. If indicator pathogens do exist, then the question is why? That's where the research will come in handy.

As stated in the Humanure Handbook, 2nd edition, the heat of thermophilic organisms is not the only factor that contributes to a sanitized compost. Microscopic biodiversity, retention time, and other factors also contribute.

Research has also shown that mesophilic compost (which never reaches thermophilic stages) can exhibit 100% pathogen destruction as well (technically, 100% pathogen destruction really means that there are "no detectable pathogens"). I didn't put more of this information in Humanure because it wasn't available at the time of printing, but if I ever do another edition, I will add it.

So a focus only on temperature levels is not necessarily a good one. I think a focus on temperature is good for determining thermophilic populations, and this is important, but one can get carried away with it.

Joe Jenkins

Author: Kev Man
Friday, June 24, 2005 - 4:09 pm
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When a "honey truck" (septic tank removal vehicle) is full, it is then dumped into a parking lot type area where its spread over a large area to dry. After this, it is then mixed with mulch and composted more to be sold as fertilizer. Its the drying, and the composting that kills the pathogens. I got this informaion from History Channel.

Id be suprized if you had a paved area to do this in but if you were industrious enough, im sure some sort of agregate/rock/clay/sand mix would give you a surface you might want to use.

Without moisture, most microorganisms die. The main concern im sure is the liquids carrying bad things into the ground.

The key is to spread it thin so it dries as quicly as possible.

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