What is Terra Preta Sanitation (TPS) all about? Hype or ingenious?

  • Florian
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Re: What is Terra Preta Sanitation (TPS) all about? Hype or ingenious?

And back to the topic of Terra Preta Sanitation...

I have to say that my doubts towards this concept have not really dissipated from the discussion so far. At best it sounds like an interesting vision, but currently way too complicated and with too many questionsmarks attached to be something that I can apply in projects to solve problems.

Florian

Florian Klingel
Water and Sanitation Specialist at Skat Consulting Ltd.
Last Edit: 26 Feb 2013 11:39 by muench.
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  • ecosan_moldova
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Re: What is Terra Preta Sanitation (TPS) all about? Hype or ingenious?

There is one study undertaken in 2010 by Scheinemann & Krüger at the Institute of Bacteriology and Mycology at the Veterinary Clinics, Leipzig
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The authors, indicate that there was a decrease of rate of embrionation of Ascaris eggs from 96% to 0% (8 week of lacto-fermentation) in two investigated matrices of cattle manure with charcoal/no effective microorganisms and with charcoal/with effective microorganisms. It is considered that the main factor leading to the reduction of embrionation rate of Ascaris was maintaining of increased temperature during fermentation, that of 36 ℃.
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Nadia Andreev

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  • Maria Magri
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Re: What is Terra Preta Sanitation (TPS) all about? Hype or ingenious?

Dear all,

This is my first post here in the forum, although I have been following the discussions for some time. Shortly introducing myself, I am Brazilian and have just finished my PhD working with ecological sanitation, especially with faeces and urine treatment technologies.

I have worked for some years with ascaris and I see the methodological aspects of evaluating them as of a big concern. I will also look into the specific topic about that here in the forum.

The paper that presents the ascaris eggs monitoring of Dr. Gina, I find it extremely important, but it is not common that the eggs disappear from the faecal material, they just become unviable, which is the no capacity of developing into the larvae stage. They do can degrade and then disappear, but after some months of being inactivated (what can take another several months…). They can be fast degraded just if they are submitted to really strong treatments, as high temperature and pressure, which is not the case of TPS.

I think that the factors that can act against ascaris on TPS should be identified and then studied. The methodology of extracting and evaluating the eggs should also be clear, and it is also recommended to work with high quantity of eggs per gram, so you can actually see 2-4 log units decrease, and have a more consistent data. I know it is not the easiest research, so congratulations for what you have done so far!

Kind regards,

Maria Elisa
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  • joeturner
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Re: What is Terra Preta Sanitation (TPS) all about? Hype or ingenious?

Thanks, that is very interesting. Do I understand you to mean that the ova can disappear but still be active?

Can you help us understand how and when we should interpret reported Ascaris figures? We are discussing that here .

Previously trained and worked as a Soil Scientist and worked on projects composting sewage sludge.
Last Edit: 28 Feb 2013 15:39 by joeturner.
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  • mwink
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Re: What is Terra Preta Sanitation (TPS) all about? Hype or ingenious?

Dear Gina, dear Ralf,

thanks for the response and additional informations. Sorry for responding late (somehow I didn't see your entries at earlier visits).

Ralf, your information that the stuff should not be used for at least 10 years turns the whole discussion. I always read it having in mind that a reuse is anticipated as early as possible - therefore my considerations regarding hygiene. And this is how I understood TPS until now, having in mind pilotes of Haiko Pieplow and others.
If we follow your thoughts the focus has to change completely. Then hygiene is a minor aspect but logistics (storage space) and economics come into the focus. Did you (as well as others) do research within this aspect? Can this be economical or competitive with other systems? (Not considering that sanitation always costs and there exists a right for sanitation for each human being.)

Looking forward what the discussion brings regarding this aspect,
yours, Martina.

Research unit Water infrastructure and risk analyses
Institute for Social-Ecological Research (ISOE)
Frankfurt, Germany

winker[AT]isoe.de
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www.saniresch.de
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  • Massari
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Re: What is Terra Preta Sanitation (TPS) all about? Hype or ingenious?

Dear all, dear Martina,

your point about Ralf's information is very interesting. As I understand it, this 10 years are regarding the use of the soil and not its storage time. So the soil should not be used for food production for minimal 10 years, but could be used for non-edible plants production. And then, after ten years one could use it for edible plants. As you said, the reuse is still very antecipated, only not for food production.
One interessant point would be to create a soil conditioner using the whole idea of TPS but without human excreta (similar to a Bokashi bucket) and use this soil for food crops while the one from TPS toilets could be used for timber production for example.

Kind regards,
Hugo
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  • mwink
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Re: What is Terra Preta Sanitation (TPS) all about? Hype or ingenious?

Dear Hugo,

thanks for the clarification as I wasn't precise enough in my statement. Of course, you are right. The soil can be used for non-edible food production or landscaping.
However (therefore I didn't consider this), it will be very hard to control this. If you have a fertile product, how can you avoid people using it for food production for ten (!) years. Most agricultural control systems are not able to provide such supervision - especially as in many countries no consistent data exists on the plots, their owners etc. and when it exists it's hard to get it.

Therefore, I concluded that you have to store it. Although there are potentially some other options available.

Yours, Martina.

Research unit Water infrastructure and risk analyses
Institute for Social-Ecological Research (ISOE)
Frankfurt, Germany

winker[AT]isoe.de
www.isoe.de
www.saniresch.de
Last Edit: 13 Mar 2013 12:03 by muench. Reason: typo corrected
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  • CWendland
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Re: What is Terra Preta Sanitation (TPS) all about? Hype or ingenious?

Dear Florian,

I agree with your points. In our experience, it cannot be considered as hygienically safe to store faecal matter from UDDT for 2 years. We recommend post-composting with other organic matter but it is difficult to ensure the required temperature in the compost heaps.
Therefore terra preta treatment might be a good alternative to composting if it removes pathogens at lower temperature in a shorter time.
We are starting to combine UDDT and post-Terra preta-treatment (of faecal matter and urine) in this way and can hopefully present some results soon.

Best regards
Claudia Wendland
www.sanitation.wecf.eu

WECF - Water and Sanitation Specialist
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  • Massari
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Re: What is Terra Preta Sanitation (TPS) all about? Hype or ingenious?

In my opinion, it is difficult to imagine a sanitation approach which works at household level. Most people don't want to even talk about human excreta, imagine about handling it! So the toilet user should not have any type of contact with the excreta. In this case, the ideal sanitation should be provided by the municipality with off-site treatment. This can create the possibility for the municipality to take proper care of the risky soil, training proper personal for handling and also deciding secure places to dipose it. That occurs also with sludge from conventional sewage treatment plants in many countries (the toilet user has then no access to the end product).
From my point of view, soil conditioners obtained through treatment of human feces (or feces and urine) should not be used as amendment for food production (in large scale). People produce biowaste enough that can be used to make safe soil conditioner for food production (and that can easily be done at household level!).

If a family has no municipality support and are willing to manage its own excreta at household level in order to improve the land and its health, why not starting it by managing the kitchen waste? In my opnion that is a "safe way" to produce fertile soils for edible plants.

Using the TPS process (fermentation+vermicosposting) for kitchen waste would work fine, as there is no sugar supplement needed and is far easier than composting. So the produced soil should be as fertile as the one from the toilet, right? Then the family can grow vegetables with safe soils and non-edible plants with the "risky" soil from toilet having in mind the multi-barrier approach.

kind regards
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  • JeffHoliman
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Re: What is Terra Preta Sanitation (TPS) all about? Hype or ingenious?

Dear Ralf and List,
I appreciate all of the thoughtful discussion points made on this very important topic, and proposing the innovative strategy that is TPS for addressing many important urgent issues facing humanity: closing nutrient loops, building soil while sequestering atmospheric carbon and enhancing food security, restoring water quality and biodiversity.

In regard to your post #3576 the PLOS article regarding Turning the Table with plant endocytosis, I am confused regarding your statement “impossible to have a short cycle”. From my interpretation in the General Considerations section: a) the plant does use energy to take up the bacteria but “justified by the benefit of using microbes as a nutrient source” i.e. by catabolism. b) “ We show that the presence of microbes induces the expression of plant enzymes with divergent functions, such as cellulases and cellulose synthases, and this suggests that the uptake process consist of a succession of distinct and tightly regulated processes, which would exclude the possibility of permanent induction of genes.” To me, it seems that this paper does not imply that the plants can take up pathogens and pass them on up the food chain, but rather digest microbes for energy and nutrients to support anabolic processes. Can you direct me to what I am missing?

To offer up some more evidence how microaerobic composting, which includes acid fermentation, can destroy many stubborn pathogens, specifically Ascaris eggs, here are a couple of interconnected open-source papers which offer some comfort:
1. Turnover of Carbohydrate-Rich Vegetal Matter During Microaerobic Composting and After Amendment in Soil Appl Biochem Biotechnol. 2011 September; 165(1): 270–278. This demonstrates that acid fermentation, a process of microaerobic composting, does indeed primarily produce volatile organic acids (VOAs) : acetic, propanoic, butyric, isovaleric, valeric, and caproic acid. It is the presence of these VOAs i.e. short chain fatty acids that inactivate Ascaris reproduction. Additionally, such treatment renders more carbon available to the soil food web and immediately avoids off gassing to atmosphere as CO2 as compared to aerobic decomposition in this experiment.
2. Inactivation of Ascaris suum by Short-Chain Fatty Acids APPLIED AND ENVIRONMENTAL MICROBIOLOGY, Jan. 2011, p. 363–366

Because public safety is paramount, would like to point to a couple of sources of information regarding simple water tests for E. coli that can be adapted for compost (by suspending in water) and conducted in remote regions. If there is any doubt, testing is warranted.

1. David Omick’s technique also link to well-organized information on barrel composting which could be adapted to TPS.
2. Agua Pura Para El Pueblo has posted worksheets on their similar simple water tests

No doubt that the earth’s forests require reprieve rather than further exploitation by charcoal production. There is much promising research being conducted on the utilization of the vast amounts of agricultural biomass into the residential clean cookstove campaign: transitioning to rice hulls, rice and wheat straw, corn stover, coffee bean husks, bagasse, the shells of nuts, pine needles, perennial weeds, orchard pruning, coppicing, etc.. The gasification and biochar documentation from Dr. Paul Olivier offers some valuable information, to begin. In essence, integrating simple Top-Lit Updraft (TLUD) cookstove design fueled by agriwaste and fabricated locally, stimulates local economy by processing fuel, fabricating stoves, conserves traditional cooking fuel (replaces wood or propane), reduces emissions, and creates biochar which could be integrated into TPS systems, or distribution of value added products.
To me, TPS , though in its relative infancy, offers an ingenious tool in the “restorative systems” toolbox and potentially offers a future of abundance as further optimization occurs in particular urban permaculture and agroecological designs.
Kind regards,
Jeff

Jeff Holiman
PHLUSH.org
Portland, OR, USA
Last Edit: 20 Apr 2013 06:56 by JeffHoliman. Reason: wish to substitute the words "as compared to" for the word "through" in point #1
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  • JKMakowka
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Re: What is Terra Preta Sanitation (TPS) all about? Hype or ingenious?

Ok, maybe it is a bit off-topic but there is an alternative interesting take on the idea of acidic fecal sludge treatment and soil supplements with biochar:

Wood "vinegar", especially bamboo "vinegar" (a potential side product of charcoal production) is a known antibacterial and antifungal substance already used for composting of pig-manure in china and other places where the production of this useful liquid has a long tradition.

It would seem to me that the use of this "vinegar" in composting would be probably in effect very similar to the "terra preta" method, and that it is actually derived from charcoal production makes it a perfect fit.
It also solves the issues of sourcing and managing the lactic-acid bacteria suspension by replacing it with an easy to handle and potentially 3rd party produced substance.
In addition, bamboo cultivation and charcoal burning is a common and economically viable praxis with many beneficial side effects.

Here is are two manuals on easy construction of such small scale charcoal kilns with bamboo vinegar capturing:
c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.echocommunity.org/...ontal_Drum_Kilns.pdf
interscience.in/IJARME_Vol2Iss2/14.pdf

Other related interesting reads:
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20060567
www.wpi.edu/Pubs/E-project/Available/E-p...Vinegar_Brochure.pdf

But there is actually much more information on this (do a Google search).

We might do a trail for this with two of our members in western Uganda (Rwenzori mountains, a natural habitat of Bamboo), but if anyone is interested in contributing (or funding practical research) please contact me. Edit: sadly never worked out

Krischan Makowka
Microbiologist & emergency WASH specialist
Last Edit: 27 Nov 2016 04:25 by JKMakowka.
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  • JKMakowka
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Re: What is Terra Preta Sanitation (TPS) all about? Hype or ingenious?

This document has even more details about wood vinegar, which is supposed to have beneficial effects on composting and also odor reducing properties when applied to manure.
Now, I have to say to all sounds a bit like a "wonder" solution, so I am a bit skeptical to be honest... but at least here in Uganda a LOT of charcoal is produced and AFAIK none of that wood vinegar captured. So if it even has a slightly beneficial use and can be an economic incentive to improve the (very inefficient) traditional charcoal kilns it could be a huge benefit overall.

Krischan Makowka
Microbiologist & emergency WASH specialist

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