Normal Composting Bin Sequence

It's very important to understand that two factors are involved in destroying potential pathogens in humanure. Along with heat, the time factor is important. Once the organic material in a compost pile has been heated by thermophilic microorganisms, it should be left to age or "season." This part of the process allows for the final decomposition to take place, decomposition that may be dominated by fungi and macroorganisms such as earthworms and sowbugs. Therefore, a good compost system will utilize at least two composting bins, one to fill and leave to age, and another to fill while the first is aging. A three-binned composting system is even better, as the third bin provides a place to store cover materials, and separates the active bins so there is no possible accidental transfer of fresh material to an aging bin.

When composting humanure, fill one bin first. Start the compost pile by establishing a thick layer of coarse and absorbent organic material on the bottom of the bin. This is called a "biological sponge." Its purpose is to act as a leachate absorption barrier. The sponge may be an 18 inch or more layer of hay or straw, grass clippings, leaves, and/or weeds. Place the first container of the huma-nure/sawdust mix from the toilet directly on the top center of the sponge. Cover immediately with more straw, hay, weeds, or leaves — the cover acts as a natural "biofilter" for odor prevention, and it causes air to become trapped in the developing compost pile, making physical turning of the pile for aeration unnecessary. A standard bin size is about 5 feet square and 4 feet high (1.6 meters square and 1.3 meters high).

Continue in this manner until the bin is full, which is quite likely to take a year, being sure to add to this bin as much of the other organic material you produce as is practical. There is no need to have any other compost piles — one is enough for everything produced by the humans in your household. If you have small animals such as chickens or rabbits, their manure can go into the same compost pile. Small dead animals can also be added to the compost pile.

You need to do nothing special to prepare material for adding to the compost pile. You do not need to chop up vegetables, for example. Just chuck it all in there. Most of the things compost educators tell you cannot be composted can be composted in your humanure compost pile (such as meat, fats, oils, citrus fruits, animal mortalities, etc.). Add it all to the same compost pile. Anything smelly that may

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