Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Recycling animal and human dung is the key to sustainable farming


Flushing the water closet is handy, but it wreaks ecological havoc, deprives agricultural soils of essential nutrients and makes food production dependent on fossil fuels.


For 4,000 years, human excrements and urine were considered extremely valuable trade products in China, Korea and Japan. Human dung was transported over specially designed canal networks by boats.
Thanks to the application of human "waste" products as fertilizers to agricultural fields, the East managed to feed a large population without polluting their drinking water. Meanwhile, cities in medieval Europe turned into open sewers. The concept was modernized in late 19th century Holland, with Charles Liernur's sophisticated vacuum sewer system.

The innocent looking water closet breaks up a natural cycle in our food supply. Basically, it turns extremely valuable resources into waste products. When we grow crops, we withdraw essential nutrients from the soil: potassium, nitrogen and phosphate, to name but the most important. During the greater part of human history, we recycled these nutrients through our bodies and returned them to the soil, via excreta, food trimmings and the burial of dead. Today, we flush them mostly into the sea (see the infographic below, source).
Nutrients cycle humanure
Recycle Effectiveness

This is problematic and 



unsustainable, for three main reasons.

Read article:
http://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2010/09/recycling-animal-and-human-dung-is-the-key-to-sustainable-farming.html



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