HOLY CRAP…..who knew? Pt.2

Welcome back to Part 2 of HOLY CRAP….who knew?

In Part 1, we got to discover:

  • The relatively unnoticed problem of the rapid depletion of good topsoil still available on the planet, to be able to continue to grow food in.
  • A potential solution to this problem that everyone is already a part of on a daily basis.
  • The beginning of a “Proof of Concept” experiment that follows God’s Principals and design to convert lifeless soil and human waste (Crap…as the title suggests) and into a safe and life giving product.
  • The setting-up of the experiment.

We’re now down to the business end of the experiment, so to speak, where the method, and the results will be delivered.

It is recommended to read “Holy Crap….who knew? Part 1” to give context to this article.

 

COMPOST COVERING MATERIAL

Carrying on from where we left off in Part 1…..we are now ready to plant our butt on the toilet seat and make a deposit (no photo for this one….use your imagination….or not).
Having done that, we usually press the button and water takes away that environmental golden nugget. Seeing this is a water-less toilet and we want to keep the golden nugget because we understand its value of giving back to the environment, however we still need to cover it over for sanitary reasons, so our covering material is essential.

TIP: place enough compost covering material to cover the entire bottom of the bucket before initial use. This will make the cleaning process upon emptying, effortless. 

In the beginning of this experiment, the plan was to use some green waste compost material to cover over the poo deposit. This compost material was of no use in the garden at all because it was hydrophobic, which meant it would not take on water and therefore no life could live in it to break it down.

Seeing as this green waste compost material was just sitting around in piles not breaking down much at all, there was hope that having it mixed with the poo and the worms working through it, that the compost material might be revitalized into something good.
However, when using this compost material, if there was more pee than poo in the toilet, the compost material separated and floated rather than absorbed, which was not what I wanted, which was kind of obvious due to its hydrophobic nature.
Some people at this stage may choose to separate the pee and the poo in a composting toilet system.
However, I have observed as a backyard gardener that animal manures were very beneficial to the plants growth. Most gardeners’ desired choice of manures was poultry poo, because of the high nitrogen content.
I wondered why this manure was higher in nitrogen?

I discovered that the difference between other popular animal manures such as horse, cow, sheep and pig, was that with the poultry variety, pee and poo are contained in the same package. I figured that the extra nitrogen content in the poultry manure from the pee content, was highly beneficial.
Human pee is very high in nitrogen too.
God seems to have designed the pee and poo to come out in combination, so for this experimental toilet system I didn’t want to separate the pee and the poo, for the benefits that God must have in mind for such a design as well as to keep the system simple.
What to do about the moisture though?

 

In nature, it seems that moisture attracts moisture. Moist materials will usually take on moisture more readily than bone dry ones such as, watering a dry pot plant the water simply passes through compared to moist soil in a pot plant which readily soaks up the moisture.

Additionally in nature, there is a variety of organic waste material that falls to the ground that attracts a variety of soil life that break this matter down and converts this into food for living things like plants. The more variety of life in an environment on mass, the healthier that environment.

This observation resulted in adding other organic waste matter to the green waste compost, which included grass clippings and sawdust. The idea is that it will aid in the initial soaking up of liquid in the toilet system, then also attract additional life to the system in the breaking down process.

The plan when making up the compost covering material, was to also pre-moisten it to see if the addition of some minor moisture would also aid in the soaking up of the pee and poo moisture more readily.

This is how it was made.

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All the gear ready to make a compost covering material mix.

 

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Screening out the large woody chunks from the hydrophobic green waste material.

 

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Screened green waste, sawdust, grass clipping and a little moisture.

 

In this experiment, the compost type covering material to cover the poo deposit in the toilet is pre-made up in bulk in a wheelbarrow and stored in 20L. buckets with loose lids on them (to let some air in to pre-aid in the decomposition process) ready for use.
About 4 buckets are made up. This usually lasts for about 3 months per person.
The additions of more organic material has fixed the lack of absorption issue.

 

OFF TO THE WORM FARM

One thing to always keep in mind in during this experiment, is working in harmony with what God has already designed.
God designed the Animal Kingdom as the maintenance system of workers whose role is to maintain the health and vitality of the Plant Kingdom. The Invertebrate group of workers (in this the case the land based ones) are fantastic at breaking down dead organic matter and convert it into foods for plants to thrive on. Essentially, they make what I would call micro-manure.
So the more of these workers that I can attract to the system, the faster the decomposition process, the quicker the end product can be used, the quicker the environment can be recovered.
Incorporating these guys as working parts to a human waste system the bonus is:
– no costly infrastructure,
– no parts that can breakdown,
– useless soil becomes vibrant,
– and I do very little work because God’s little workers are getting their hands dirty sorting out the poopy problem.

Once the toilet bucket gets to about ¾ full (or 7/8 for the more adventurous), which usually is by about 10 days / person, it is taken to a holding area near the worm farm. Realistically, it could simply just go straight into the worm farm. However, I prefer to let it sit for about a month.
This is to allow it to attract insects and other workers from the natural environment to begin the decomposition process. Hence, attracting more workers to the system.
This holding area, which is outside in the elements, is like the pre-factory before it goes to the large worm factory.

After this holding time period, the contents get emptied into the worm farm.
In summer, the contents of the bucket are virtually completely broken down by this stage. In the winter months, there is still some signs of human poo deposits.
Once the toilet bucket contents are emptied into the worm farm, the army of worm workers (and other buddies) completely break the contents down within 4-8 days, depending on the seasonal temperature.  Faster in summer, slower in winter.

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The holding area before emptying into the worm farm, with tomato seeds in poo sprouting.

 

Once the toilet bucket contents are emptied into the worm farm they are spread out with a stick, then the bucket is cleaned at the worm farm.

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Contents of the toilet bucket freshly emptied.

 

There is no water at this location, so the contents of a 9 L. watering can is used.
This involves a rough watering of the bucket to remove any loose soil. This is tipped into the worm farm.

The next clean is with water and a dish brush or toilet brush to remove anything that didn’t come off the bucket with a rough watering. No vigorous scrubbing is ever required because the contents of the bucket slide out quite easily. This water is also tipped into the worm farm.
The cover is then reinstated on the worm farm.

The final clean is using a biodegradable dish-washing detergent and the same brush to give the bucket a hygienic once over. The bucket is then given a rinse out with water.  This water is then tipped out onto any fortunate tree.

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The final clean in the cleaning process.

 

This process take about 5 minutes. It occurs about every 10 days, and uses 9lt. water, based on one person.

Interestingly, after about 1 year, not only were the worms doing all their great work (which is the only life that I added to the system), there was also a variety of other invertebrate creatures such as slaters, earwigs, tiny black beetles, and a bunch of micro creatures that had been attracted to the system to aid in the decomposition.
There was even a resident frog, who was enjoying the conditions.

Also for interest sake, rats or mice have never been attracted to the soil/poo conversion worm farm or holding buckets.
I have a fruit and vegetable scraps worm farm in a bathtub not far away from the poo worm farm one and occasionally a rat or a mouse finds it to be a great place to dine out……before I assume a snake eventually gets attracted to them and has a similar idea.
I mention this because sometimes people are worried about vermin/poo/disease spreading.

 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE WORM FARM GETS FULL?

It’s time to move the workers over to the vacant factory (empty bathtub). But how do you get them to move?
The simplest method is by attraction.

A wire basket that was earlier used in the screening of the woody lifeless green waste compost material, is filled with horse manure or anything similar. Anything else that the worms love to eat will attract them to the basket.
I’ve never though just to use the contents of my bucket straight up. Hmmm.  Might try that next time!

I put some small blocks (or anything) about 25 mm (an inch) high, under the 4 corners of the manure filled basket just to keep it slightly up off the surface of the converted soil that the worms have been working their magic on. This helps with the transfer because they get up into the basket rather than staying in the converted soil and eating from there. I want them in the basket for ease of transfer.

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Basket loaded with manure, ready to attract the worms into it for transfer. 

 

The vacant factory (bathtub) it is set up with some bedding material, as shown in Part 1. This can simply be anything organic and moist so that the worms are not directly onto the surface of the bathtub.
(Since Part 1, I have used soaked fluted cardboard and wet shredded paper as a bedding material, which works really well)
I repeat this transfer method a second time to try and get the majority of the worms moved over to the new bathtub. On this second transfer once the basket has been emptied, I also use a small hand gardening fork to just take off about 50 mm, (2 inches) of the top layer of the soil that the worms were in to move over any remaining worms that were next in line for a horse manure feast. There is usually quite a lot at this level. (Use a gardening fork, not a gardening shovel, which would cut the worms in half)
It is also beneficial moving this top layer to the new active bathtub, by bringing across smaller workers like micro-organisms in the process, to aid in recreating the same conditions that they all came from, and to not upset the flow of work in the factory too much.
A waiting bucket of human poo from the holding area is then given as welcoming gift to the workers of the new factory.

Be aware in hot weather that you may need more moisture and/or depth of insulating material to keep the newly moved worms cool.
I killed all of my worms (workers) in one go one time after transferring them during a hot period in summer where the days were consistently above 35 degrees C (95 degrees F).  In the hot weather they would usually go deeper into the soil where it is cooler, but there was no depth upon transfer.
I had to reconsider my Work Health & Safety plan for my workers!

 

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THE CONVERTED SOIL?

God’s little workers break down organic matter and create a new type of substance and structure, that is amorphous (without a clearly defined shape or form, according to soil scientist) that differs from the substance and structure of soil.
What is created is commonly known as Humus (not hummus, which is a chickpea dip).
Humus is a substance that is dark brown or black in color due to the Carbon content and is kind of sticky or spongy in nature.
In the natural environment the creation of humus can take up to 100 years in untouched forests for a humus layer to be built up. This experimental system with human waste seems to be able to fast track that process exponentially.
Humus has the ability to hold up 90% of its own weight in water, absorbs minerals to be slowly released as plants demands them and water will not washout the minerals that it captures as can happen with just soil.
Effectively, the ground based workers converted organic waste material into a substance that enriches the soil and everything growing in it.

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The finished product.

 

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On the left is the finished product. On the right is the original green waste mulch.

 

This converted soil can be added to any existing soil that you would like to enhance, and in particular, to improve the soils ability to retain water for longer periods. Be sure to cover the soil from the elements as the humus still contains loads of micro life.

For years I was using the poo-converted soil to dig in around approximately 100 fruit and nut trees that I had planted on the property. It was just an experiment in its own right initially, because the soil on the property was not very good. The trees required water about every month to keep them alive, but less if we had good rains.
Watering 100 trees by hand by watering can was not much fun!

The plan was to do it how God does it.
God doesn’t require us to go and water the forest. God’s system has operations in place that fixes the soil to be able to retain moisture and nutrients for the trees to thrive on – a self-sufficient system.

Over time, with the poo-converted soil that I had added, I realized that the fruit and nut trees needed less and less of my watering input and were still growing well, so I was on the right track. Now they get watered 2-3 times a year, with whatever comes out of the hose in the space of one minute per tree (about 20 L, 5.3 Gal), which was great, because I have a whole lot of time back…..a resource that can’t be replenished.
Thanks poo, thanks worms, thanks God!

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Distributing the finished product in the wheelbarrow to trees.

 

The only problem with the success of soil under the trees being able to retain moisture longer, was that the majority of our rain comes in the summer (if it comes). Winter is quite dry and as spring comes on and new buds appear and the fruit trees are the greenest thing around and therefore are usually the target of fuzzy creatures likes wallabies, bandicoots and possums. Tree guards that I have around the trees are no obstacle for an empty stomach and the trees get attacked quite ferociously most years.
Having being in drought 2 years running (less than 1/3 of annual average rainfall) the unfortunate good growth of the trees means they are heavily targeted, yet somehow surviving.

There is a harmonious solution to this on a larger scale also involving the use of the poo-converted soil, but that is another experiment in mind for another time.

The use of the soil worked so well on the trees that I decided to try it in the vegetable garden. At first I thought (old-school fear) that maybe vegetables grown in soil that originally contained poo, might be a health risk.
So as any great scientist does, test it on yourself!

The converted soil from the worm farm I find is like a soil conditioner. So it was mixed in with the existing garden soil.
It had the same remarkable water retention abilities as I had observed on the fruit trees. The vegetable thrived. Originally my watering of them in the same soil before was an everyday task in summer, which had now reduced to weekly.
The only time the vegetables ever become droopy is because I forget to water them, because I am so use to them mostly looking after themselves, and I forget when I watered them last.

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Vegetables enjoying the benefit provided to them by humanure.

 

Interestingly, I’ve never had to buy a tomato plant for growing since using this soil on the trees and vegetable garden. They seem to come straight from my butt…well…via eating them, going through the conversion system and back into the soil, the seeds sprout up everywhere, even around the base of trees.
Black Muscat grape seeds also germinate in this fashion too.  Those 2 are the only seeds that have gone through me and through the system to complete a full cycle into growing again. I don’t know why only these 2 seeds at this stage and if others potentially can too.
Oh….by the way, the scientific experiment worked.  I’m still alive! No poo poisoning via the soil.
I doubted there would ever be an issue, because God’s system was at play, which promotes and enhances life.
A little bit of faith in God’s Way going on there!

 

TIME TO GET THE SOIL TESTED

Seeing as I didn’t die and was in good health to do some research, I found an Accredited Laboratory in accordance with the International Standards Organisation (ISO) that could test the soil for contaminates to human health. I didn’t tell them what was in the soil as to not allow human influence/prejudice to hinder the results.
While I might personally be impressed with the results of this Proof of Concept experiment, rather than just have my opinion I felt it was important to get some verifiable data of the end product, which may help others to see the benefits of dealing with human waste in the way that God designed, which promotes life!
My main test was for:

  • The existence of any dangerous pathogens (seeing as human excrement was used)
  • Mineral content present in the soil
  • Soil pH levels (acidity-alkalinity of the soil)

 

Click on the document name to see the Pathogen test results – SAS Lab Test Results #1

 

Fecal Coliform (more commonly termed Thermotolerant Coliforms) and E. coli were tested for pathogens related to Fecal contamination.
The soil sample sent in was of the finished poo/compost material that has been through the conversion process by the worm farm and been idle for 3 months since the worms were removed to the new active worm farm.
The test results are measured as MPN per gram of compost. MPN refers to “Most Probable Number”.
According to The EPA (Environment Protection Authority) the absolute maximum value in dry weight of compost soil should not exceed for:
Thermotolerant Coliforms – 100MPN/g. (Test sample results were: 0 MPN/g.)
E Coli – 1000MPN/g. (Test sample results were: 1 MPN/g.)

Essentially, fantastic results – absolutely safe for usage.
PASS

 

Click on the document name to see the Mineral Content test results – SAS Lab Test Results #2

 

The Mineral Content test results shows 2 different samples provided for testing to see an easy side by side sample result of a before and after comparison.
Sample 1: the green waste compost soil in its original natural state, and
Sample 2: the finished poo/compost material that has gone through the conversion process by the worm farm and been idle for 3 1/2 months since the worms were removed to the new active worm farm.
The results are recorded as Milligrams per Kilogram (mg/kg).
If you are more familiar with Parts per Million (ppm) as a measurement, this conversion is 1:1.  Simply change the mg/kg to ppm at the end of the number.

It is quite noticeable how the mineral content levels in the original green waste compost soil have been reduced by up to half after going through the worm farm process. Why this is, I do not know, nor did they know at the Lab.
Some sort of magic is going on, however I haven’t fully discovered what that is, yet the soil has been remarkably transformed into better soil by the army of soil workers.
What I mean by this is that, even while the green waste mulch in its natural form has twice the level minerals in it, those minerals don’t seem to be available to plants.
Even when it was originally used and constantly kept moist, the plant life never thrived. Yet with the poo added to it and it been transformed by a variety of invertebrate creatures, only about half the mineral content is present, but seemingly all available to plants, by the ease and ability of which plant life seems to grow in it.
Like I said, some sort of magic is going on. God is also a magician as well as an excellent architect!

You may notice in the mineral content list of the Lab results, shows that lead is in the soil. This was alarming to me at first before some investigation.
It appears that lead is found naturally in soil in low amounts.  It is the levels of lead in the soil that are of concern to human and animal health, particularly young children who can absorb this more easily than adults and often use hand to mouth activities.
A level of less than 300 mg/kg is considered safe in garden soils in Australia. Countries such as USA’s EPA safe levels of lead in soil are, 400 parts per million (ppm) of lead in bare soil in children’s play areas or 1200 ppm average for bare soil in the rest of the yard.
A level of 61 mg/kg from the converted sample was five times below the safe level.

PASS

 

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pH testing of the finished product.

pH is a measurement of how acidic or base (alkaline) a substance is.
The pH table varies from 0 – 14, with 7 being neutral. Below 7 is more acidic and above 7 is more alkaline.
This test was easy enough to do by myself.
An image of the test shows a pH level somewhere between 6.5 and 7. This was consistent with various tests done.
The typical pH range for most plants is between 5.5 and 7.

PASS

 

These test results confirmed my suspicion that the use of poo with compost covering material, being broken down via God’s workers (as designed) would produce a safe and enriched substance would not only be safe to grow in but be used to fix existing soil and very beneficial to the vibrant and healthy growth of plants.

Asking the Lab people to interpret the results for me, they said that the tests results according to the guidelines set out by the EPA, rate the worm farm converted soil sample (Sample 2) as Class A compost soil.
Is Class A good or bad?
It is the highest class, which can effectively be sold commercially if someone should choose to do that.

 

CONCLUSION

Through the various stage of Part 1 of this article titled “Holy Crap….who knew?” you discovered that the “Crap” in the title referred to human-waste, bio-solids, humanure, stool samples, excreta or however you may like to term it in a more refined way than I have been using.

You also discovered that the “…who knew?” part of the title was about the value of our poo that we call waste, yet in God’s design it is of life giving value.
You will now get to discover where the “Holy” part of the title fits in.

 

This Proof of Concept experiment set out to observe what God does and replicate it. Why? Because everything that God does is good and benefits everyone and everything.

By observing and designing in the same way that the Universe’s Greatest Architect (God) has done and armed with systems that he has designed to keep our BIG HOUSE (the Earth) running in a maintenance free type of way, has been the key inspiration for this project in endeavoring to replicate in a way God does.
In the background, the bigger picture has always been if it can be done how God does it, it will create a revolving cycle of life.

This illustration below shows what has been created.

 

Closing the loop

 

“Holy” – to become whole.
This illustration shows that food provided by plants for us is eaten, > our waste product, which is food for creatures is broken down, > that broken down product is food that plants use to grow, > plants grow and provide food for us which is eaten………….the system become whole, there is no end.
This system completes the loop, (where as our current chosen system, cuts the loop)
Where a system goes full circle to feed itself, a cycle of life is established.

And now the full meaning of the strange title of “Holy Crap…….who knew?” is explained.
The costs associated with this Proof of Concept system are:

  • 2 x Bath tubs (2nd hand) $50
  • 8 x Star pickets $64
  • Shade Cloth – $60
  • Timber/screws – $20
  • 5 x 20 L. buckets (trade waste) – Free
  • Toilet seat – $10
  • Toilet brush/dish brush – $5
  • Watering can – $10
  • 1000 worms – $50
  • Green waste mulch – Free (can just use soil and other organic material)
  • 7’x 5’ Trailer of sawdust – $10
  • Grass clippings – Free
  • Basket – $10 of materials lying around
  • Cardboard – Free
  • Shredded paper – Free
  • TOTAL = $289

 

This Proof of Concept experiment provides proof that each day we have the potential to fix the planet in a rather simplistic but essential way.

Every single person as fellow housemates of our Earthly home, following God’s design, can pay recompense for our unruly tenancy and give something back with value to the next people that will be new tenants of this Earth.

If one person can provide nearly half a tonne/year of converted dead soil and poo into an enriched material to be given back to the Earth, imagine how quickly we could all fix this planet!

 

Footnote: I you like this sort of discovery of how to design, create and live in your passions using God’s methods, check out:  https://blog.godsway.net/

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