Humanure comosting questions

by Delisa Renideo
(Wasilla, Alaska)

Worm castings in a worm bin

Worm castings in a worm bin

Hello!

I have been composting our humanure for 10 years, using Joe Jenkins system with outdoor bins.
I'm just getting starting with vermiculture and am interested in composting our humanure with the worms as it seems like it would be quicker and provide a better product.

I'm wondering if anyone you know of is doing this, and what their system is. I am also wondering about any research on pathogens that might remain in the worm castings and if there is a way to get it tested to be sure.

I would like to use this vermicompost on our vegetable garden - not just ornamentals or fruits trees --

I would prefer not to wait 2 years to use my vermicompost if I can have the castings tested to find out it is safe. Do you know how to get it tested?

Thank you very much! I hope more people will begin to compost their humanure as it is not only a huge waste of water, but also a huge waste of nutrients to flush it down the toilet.

Delisa
Wasilla, Alaska

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Jan 06, 2020
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Re: Humanure comosting questions
by: Stephan

Dear Delisa

I'm totally in agreement with you that human poo is a precious resource. I have read that it is the foundation of agriculture in many areas of the world, feeding millions of people, and it even has tradeable value in such contexts, so I really think you are onto a good thing.

It is possible to feed it to worms. I have done it for six months. What I do not know is how quickly the pathogens are disposed of. Worm literature may tell you that the gut of the earthworm destroys ecoli and some other pathogens. I don't have hard information though, and I think the research may be patchy. It is a good thing to look into. If I come up with anything I will let you know.

What I would venture to say is that if you are not sick, and no one in your family is sick, or infected with parasites, then some of the pathogens will be absent anyway. Other gut bacteria everyone has, like ecoli. In that case there are different strains and some are relatively harmless and some are virulent, and they kill old folk and children and immune compromised people. I am not sure about the ingestion of your own family strains, how dangerous that is. But it is truly dangerous when ecoli strains cross between populations, where some people have never come into contact with your strains and have no immunity.

So I'm hazarding a guess that eating your own veggies, raised on your own poop in an isolated place is relatively safe, if everyone in your family is healthy and strong, and the scary rules and sanitation practices are about not starting epidemics or outbreaks. I will try to find out about own ecoli ingestion and let you know. In countries where raw sewerage is sprayed on the land there are high death rates from disease transmission, but there they are taking sewerage from a plant and thousands of people in a big city. Then these vegetables may be sent to another country and some unfortunate people who consume them raw get sick and some die.

Worm composting is cold of course, so there is no heat to destroy pathogens, the worms and time must do that.

What I did was have multiple trays for humanure processing. I would place a poop or three in one tray with a surface area of about 1500 cm square and bedding material ten centimeters deep. Then I would stack it with the 'used' trays, and start a fresh tray. The poop was wrapped in newspaper because I did it in a shallow bowl lined with newspaper, and then wrapped it up like a parcel. Sawdust would do just as well to eliminate odour.

After I had worked through ten trays, about a month later, I would go back to the first and the poop had completely disappeared and the tray smelled sweet as new earth. So I cycled the trays round and round.

I eventually stopped because ours is a hot country and there were some flies in high summer and we live in a dense suburb where our neighbours are meters away, and would report us to the authorities if they even caught a whiff of my activities.

Lastly I know of a man in England who was using red worms in a type of long drop situation. That could be another option, if you could build a chamber where you could spade the stuff out again easily, once every two years.

I hope this helps. I really care about this so lets stay in touch and exchange information.

Caroline Kloppert
author of DIY Grey Water Wetland
and https://www.greenidiom.com
facebook: Caroline Kloppert, Home Gardening@greenidiom.com, urban mini-forest, soil2soil.com.

Hello!
I have been composting our humanure for 10 years, using Joe Jenkins system with outdoor bins.
I'm just getting starting with vermiculture and am interested in composting our humanure with the worms as it seems like it would be quicker and provide a better product.

I'm wondering if anyone you know of is doing this, and what their system is. I am also wondering about any research on pathogens that might remain in the worm castings and if there is a way to get it tested to be sure.

I would like to use this vermicompost on our vegetable garden - not just ornamentals or fruits trees --

I would prefer not to wait 2 years to use my vermicompost if I can have the castings tested to find out it is safe. Do you know how to get it tested?

Thank you very much! I hope more people will begin to compost their humanure as it is not only a huge waste of water, but also a huge waste of nutrients to flush it down the toilet.

Delisa
Wasilla, Alaska

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