Composting in a flood plain?

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: General Composting Issues: Composting in a flood plain?
Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Sunday, September 26, 2010 - 6:50 am
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My suggestions:

Preferably use Joe's method with, as Test says, having the compost bin large enough to induce thermophilic activity.
If this is not possible, and you want to leave the humanure in the container it was "done in," for the time of maturation, then don't have the container so big it can't be lifted. In this case, with a smaller container, there is no way you will get thermophilic conditions in the compost, and you will need to rely upon worms, etc., to all the work of breaking it down into compost. I.e., it will be need to be stored for at least a year, preferably two.
In my experience, it is not necessary to do anything special in order for the worms to get enough air in the pile. They will burrow and provide all the aeration they need, provided the pile has not become ammonia-like, and saturated with fluid for any extended length of time. A few small holes in the bottom of the bin to allow drainage into the soil underneath is all you need. Add the worms after the bin has been filled, not while the bin is in use. Take old compost from a previous bin, which contains worms and their eggs. This will "seed" the recent bin and the worms will colonise freely.

Author: Test2 (Test2)
Sunday, September 26, 2010 - 12:38 am
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"Do you think insulating the barrels and placing them all close together would help with the heat issue?"
How big barrels are you going to use ?
How many barrels ?

Heat builds up because of single large mass. A bunch of small seperate buckets is not the same as a single large barrel.

A large enough enclosure may be able to get you enough mass.

Please search the blogs, because other people have tried barrels, but I do not recall how successful they were.

Here is link that uses a barrel. Maybe you can adapt some of their ideas.
http://www.sunfrost.com/composting_toilets.html

Another approach - a large concrete box without a concrete top (Jenkins book has recommended dimension of pile). Add drain spigot at the bottom for any leachate build up. Anchor it ? Make it tall enough. Also have a cover in case of too much rain. Throw in your critters.

Author: Mojumbie (Mojumbie)
Thursday, September 23, 2010 - 1:20 am
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The area we have chosen hardly ever floods, and has never flooded above 3 feet since we've been here, but we could potentially make it as tall as the barrel, if we used a method listed in one of the posts for aeration by building a matrix of straw and depositing in the middle of it...we could add our own worms and ready compost to seed it with organisms. Do you think insulating the barrels and placing them all close together would help with the heat issue? Thanks for the input.

Author: Test2 (Test2)
Wednesday, September 22, 2010 - 2:08 am
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Sounds challenging and risky. How do you know the water will stop at 3 feet. Maybe it would rise higher or even potentially carry off your stuff polluting the environment.

Having said that - search this blog - many people try to adopt Joe's system to closed containers. A big problem is like you say getting air in, controlling leachate and in my opinion building up enough mass to get heat going. Plus, contact with ground is good - all kinds of critters have access to heap and help break it down, plus make it safer.

But were there is a will there is away.

Author: Mojumbie (Mojumbie)
Tuesday, September 21, 2010 - 9:43 pm
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Hey all,
We live on 2.5 acres on a small river that oftentimes floods in the rainy winters. We have been considering some composting toilet designs, hoping to come up with a multiple barrel system that is leak-proof at least up to flood level, about three feet. We are thinking of using plastic barrels with a movable toilet seat, so as to fill one and move on to the next. Our main concerns, however, have been air flow in mostly sealed containers, temperature, and time until compost is safe to use on fruit trees/garden. Does anyone have any experience with this issue. Our climate is very temperate, in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, rain for six months of the year, occasional freezing in winters. Thanks...looking forward to discussing.

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