Pathogenic Populations And A Year Retention Time

Fecophobes, as we have seen throughout this book, believe that all human excrement is extremely dangerous and will cause the end of the world as we know it if not immediately flushed down a toilet. Some insist that humanure compost piles must be turned frequently — to ensure that all parts of the pile are subjected to the internal high temperatures.

The only problem with that idea is that most people produce organic refuse a little at a time. For example, most people defecate once a day. A large amount of organic material suitable for ther-mophilic composting is therefore usually not available to the average person. As such, we who make compost a daily and normal part of our lives tend to be "continuous composters." We add organic material continuously to a compost pile, and almost never have a large "batch" that can be flipped and turned all at once. In fact, a continuous compost pile will have a thermophilic layer, which will be located usually in the top two feet or so of the pile. If you turn the compost pile under these conditions, that layer will become smothered by the ther-mophilically "spent" bottom of the pile, and all thermophilic activity will grind to a halt.

In healthy human populations, therefore, turning a continuous compost pile is not recommended. Instead, all humanure deposits should be deposited in the top center of the compost pile in order to feed it to the hot area of the compost, and a thick layer of insulating material (e.g., hay) should be maintained over the composting mass. Persons who have doubts about the hygienic safety of their finished humanure compost are urged to either use the compost for non-food crops or orchards, or have it tested at a lab before using on food crops.

On the other hand, one may have the need to compost huma-nure from a population with known disease problems. If the organic material is available in batches, then it can be turned frequently during the thermophilic stage, if desired, in order to enhance pathogen death. After the thermophilic stage, the compost can be left to age for at least a year. Refer to Chapter 3 for more information on turning compost piles.

If the organic material from a diseased population is available only on a continuous basis, and turning the pile, therefore, is counterproductive, an additional year-long curing period is recommended. This will require one more composting bin in addition to the two

pings, leaves or other suitable material in order to prevent odors and flies, to create air spaces in the compost pile and to balance the nitrogen.

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