SuSanA - Forum Kunena Site Syndication Mon, 30 Nov 2015 07:59:57 +0000 Kunena 1.6 SuSanA - Forum en-gb Re: Nutrient recovery and reuse of human excreta - by: canaday
Welcome to the Forum.

This is a big question and one of our biggest hurdles. Resource recovery happens all of the time, whether we recognize it or not. People go out into corn fields to urinate and defecate, the corn grows bigger, and this is mostly not a problem because the corn grows high above the ground and it gets cooked. Knowing that it contains so many nutrients, people sometimes specifically apply wastewater to their fields, which is very unsafe, unless great care is applied to control disease.

Everyone is correct to be concerned about feces, only they should just remember and control the real risks and not fall into the irrational fear, called ''fecophobia''. We need to remember that ''feces'' is a temporary state. It had been soil, then plants, then sometimes animales, we eat these, and they spend only about our guts, so why can't they become soil again, thanks to decomposer microbes.

I suggest you read this 2-part interview with me:

... and, of course, these books and articles:
(Which I just translated into Spanish and should be available soon.)

Also search for this topic on this Forum and the SuSanA Library. Let us know how your research and studies go. And tell how you then achieve resource recovery.

Best wishes,
Chris Canaday]]>
Fertiliser, soil conditioner, production of crops Fri, 27 Nov 2015 13:05:15 +0000
Re: Nutrient recovery and reuse of human excreta - by: muench
Very pertinent topic. Impossible to summarise it in a few sentences.

If you browse through the previous discussion on this topic in this sub-category, you will get a pretty good idea:

Also check out the key documents post of this topic here:

So what conclusions did you draw regarding this topic after taking this online course and doing some reading on it? How is the situation looking for your own country (Kenya?) according to your perception so far?

Perceptions differ a lot even within one country (urban versus rural folks for example) and do also change over time. Those changes over time also for European countries were discussed here on the forum:

Hope this helps a bit to get you started?

Fertiliser, soil conditioner, production of crops Fri, 27 Nov 2015 09:45:02 +0000
Re: History of ecosan - Causes for abandoning recovery of nutrients from human excreta (and Wikipedia article on ecosan) - by: muench
Thanks for your comments. I am not sure if Sir Albert Howard and Joseph Jenkins need to be mentioned in the Wikipedia article on ecosan, but they should be mentioned on the page for composting (I like to make a clear distinction between ecosan as a concept and composting as one technology option).

In fact, Sir Albert Howard is already mentioned here in the history section of composting (please check if you agree how it's written?):

And he has his own Wikipedia article:

(Joseph Jenkins doesn't have that honor yet)

If you're interested in extremely simple toilets, then maybe you'd like to help improve the new article on bucket toilet?:

Fertiliser, soil conditioner, production of crops Thu, 29 Oct 2015 01:43:39 +0000
What are the general reactions of the community at large towards the idea of human excreta for manure? - by: muthumbi
I am a student doing an online course on Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation (SWSS). Currently we had a topic on nutrient recovery and reuse and having no field experience in this topic, would like to know more about it. My questions are, just what are the general reactions of the community at large towards the idea of 'human excreta for manure'? are there cases that it has been abhorred? if so what are the procedures employed to reduce these occurrences( ensuring that majority embrace the idea)?

Fertiliser, soil conditioner, production of crops Tue, 27 Oct 2015 20:21:06 +0000
BonaRes Program (Soil as a sustainable resource in Bioeconomy) - by: Gabriela My name is Gabriela, researcher & consultant currently at the Technical University of Munich. I work in the fields of water quality, waste streams management, resource recovery and watershed management.

Last week took place in Munich the annual Conference of the German Soil Science Association (DBG). The website offers a good overview of conferences in Germany and abroad.

I would like to share information about the BonaRes Program - Boden als nachhaltige Ressource für die Bioökonomie (Soil as a sustainable resource in Bioeconomy), financed by the BMBF for 9 years. This program and Centre for Soil Research aims to produce and gather scientific data and information on soil functions, soil management, nutrient utilization and better farming strategies. It also aims to serve as platform for knowledge sharing and transfer. The Centre is relative new and may start including more information as the program advances.
The research themes are of global interest and results may contribute to the development of better practices and policies also at international level. I thought about the reuse of waste streams in agriculture (manure and wastewater) and soil quality. From discussions with the participants, it seems that these themes will get more interest in the soil research agenda in Germany. I think this is also because of the increasing interest in international research cooperations.

Best greetings

Fertiliser, soil conditioner, production of crops Fri, 18 Sep 2015 17:15:11 +0000
Re: History of ecosan - Causes for abandoning recovery of nutrients from human excreta (and Wikipedia article on ecosan) - by: Agas
Sir Albert Howard who wrote An Agricultural Testament, was one of the pioneers of modern composting systems and also recognised the importance of ecosan long before it was given that name:

A slate roofing contractor called Joseph Jenkins coined the words 'humanure' and 'faecophobia' in his book 'Humanure Handbook' in which he popularised the concept of extremely simple composting toilets (basically a paint bucket a seat and a compost heap)]]>
Fertiliser, soil conditioner, production of crops Mon, 07 Sep 2015 11:41:37 +0000
Reply: History of ecosan - Causes for abandoning recovery of nutrients from human excreta (and Wikipedia article on ecosan) - by: neilmacleod Fertiliser, soil conditioner, production of crops Sun, 06 Sep 2015 13:54:40 +0000 Re: History of ecosan - Causes for abandoning recovery of nutrients from human excreta (and Wikipedia article on ecosan) - by: KumiAbeysuriya
Thank you for initiating this topic!

I can add a little more background to how the miasma theory contributed to the abandonment of nutrient recycling in England. It was a confluence of several historical factors - the state of scientific knowledge, colonisation that enabled alternative guano-fertilizer to be sourced, the abundance of water at the time …
(I’m copying from an article I wrote, and attaching a diagram that shows how the timing made this possible).

A series of cholera epidemics ravaged London in the 1800s focusing public attention towards solving urban public health problems. The well established medical theory about the cause of these and other diseases was the inhalation of miasmas or malodorous disease-causing vapours, so that removal of decomposing miasma-causing substances as promptly as possible appeared a logical strategy for improving public health. To use water as a transport medium for effecting this rapid removal was feasible, since water resources were abundant due to relatively high precipitation rates in Europe at the time, and stormwater drainage canals already installed in early industrialising cities could be used for movement of wastewater. Water-carriage technology was also desirable, because its automation represented advancement in scientific and economic terms, since economic growth has generally been equated with the substitution of human energy by other forms of energy. Finally, although the dilution of nutrients in large volumes of water made agricultural reuse difficult, the availability of alternative fertilizers in imported guano and nitrates around this time made it possible to abandon attempts at recycling wastes for agriculture.

The timing of the contextual factors had a vital influence on the outcome of the sanitary revolution, and it is intriguing to speculate how a different context might have turned out. In particular, if the germ theory had been established at the time, whether mixing and dispersing disease-causing germs in water might have appeared less logical. Or, whether discarding excreted nutrients would have been possible, if alternative fertilizers had not become available right at that time.

Warm regards,
Fertiliser, soil conditioner, production of crops Thu, 03 Sep 2015 07:22:40 +0000
Re: History of ecosan - Causes for abandoning recovery of nutrients from human excreta (and Wikipedia article on ecosan) - by: joeturner

Of course, as discussed above, sewage sludge is not the same as fresh excreta, there is an issue with metals and other contaminates and so on. But there is a genuine agricultural value in reusing the treated sludge from an industrial sewage works.

Also, of course, the characteristics of urine or untreated (or differently treated) excreta is going to be different.]]>
Fertiliser, soil conditioner, production of crops Tue, 25 Aug 2015 08:55:30 +0000
Re: History of ecosan - Causes for abandoning recovery of nutrients from human excreta (and Wikipedia article on ecosan) - by: joeturner
Peak Phosphate is discussed as (opposed to Peak Nitrogen) because of the different way that the nutrients behave in the environment. Nitrogen is indeed high in urine as urea, but unlike phosphate there are other ways to get nitrogen ions into the soil (for example some plants are able to get it directly from the atmosphere). In contrast, phosphate can only be obtained from rock phosphate (ie mined) or reused.

In one sense the Peak Phosphate discussion is an economic one (about the future supply of rock phosphate) which is a bit irrelevant, given all of the phosphate which is being washed into the seas and causing an environmental problem - and which could be collected and reused. Even if it doesn't run out, there is still a big negative in terms of the Planetary Boundary of inefficient use.

Another point is that the excreta needs to supply the needs of the plants. Many soils are actually short of P, so the limiting factor for plant growth might be P rather than N. Applying more that is actually being used may just lead to the nutrients being washed out of the soil (or lost to the atmosphere) and causing a problem somewhere else.]]>
Fertiliser, soil conditioner, production of crops Tue, 25 Aug 2015 08:41:00 +0000
Re: Fwd: history of ecosan work in Sweden... - by: muench
Thanks for giving the Wikipedia page on ecosan a once over review, with a particular focus on the section on "history of ecosan" (!

I've made some of the changes that you suggested:

You said:
A workshop on ecological sanitation was held in Balingsholm, Sweden in Aug 1997, where all the established experts, including Håkan et al., Peter Morgan, Ron Sawyer, George Anna Clark, Gunder Edström etc, participated, so that workshop preceeded the 1999 one in Mexico for sure.

--> I have added this, however it would still be good to have something to cite for the 1997 workshop?

You said:
Good you mention Sudea in Ethiopia, as far as I understand they really are the pioneers!

--> I wrote it like this but again I am wondering what reference I could cite for this?:
The term "ecosan" was first used in about the 1990s (or perhaps even late 1980s) by an NGO in Ethiopia called Sudea. They used it for urine-diverting dry toilets coupled with reuse activities.

An example of a blackwater treatment plant is shown in this video, about 10 mins into the video: Ripples on Baltic Waters.

--> Can you give me a better reference for this? I can't really cite the video.

You said:
It is said that Tanum went through with their urine diversion to save phosphorus, which I do not believe is true. To my understanding Tanum pushed for urine diversion due to their very rocky and challenging terrain initially, not to save P.

--> I have changed this now to:
For example, Tanum Municipality in Sweden has introduced urine separation toilets due to their very rocky and challenging terrain initially, and later also to recover phosphorus.

--> again, which document could be cited?

You said:
Among the good cases I think Sumaj Huasi merits a mentioning with their great work they do in El Alto and its surroundings with dry systems including greywater filters

--> I have not included it here but add it as an example on the Wikipedia UDDT page:

About Hamburg and Sneek, I have not added those as that's too much detail, I think. Also the Hamburg case is only in planning, not yet implemented.

Then you also said this:

- On the P note, to my understanding the more important nutrient in human excreta actually is N, so it is unfortunate that P is always brought forward. Håkan has written some really good things on this topic but maybe so far only in Swedish. Håkan, do you have any good explanations in English why N is the more important nutrient to recycle from human excreta?

--> Here I don't know what to do about it. I have the impression that Hakan Jonsson and Arno Rosemarin disagree a bit on whether phosphorus is in danger of running out that "soon" or not?
For urine as a fertiliser, it is more of an N-rich fertiliser than a P-rich fertiliser, i.e. most people would focus more on plants that need a lot of nitrogen when they fertliser them with urine.

Fertiliser, soil conditioner, production of crops Mon, 24 Aug 2015 22:19:53 +0000
Fwd: Re: [SuSanA forum] What is the difference between soil and compost? Results from a twitter conversation with Joe and Susi (Composting processes) - by: DrBates
I made the post a long time ago, but was sent to the wrong place.

As far as there being "competition" for the lime, I see it different.

If there is an acidic soil that this treated waste could be applied to, the use of the lime in this bathroom, would better ensure the main purpose of the toilet (to eliminate pathogens), and then applying the treated waste to the soil afterwards, would give the lime a second use.

If a farmer actually needs lime for his soils, then of course he has to get a different supply of lime. In this area, quick lime was in abundance. It has to be considered a part of the cost of operation. Wood ash could be used as a substitute.

Let's keep up the dialogue.

Fertiliser, soil conditioner, production of crops Mon, 24 Aug 2015 16:10:22 +0000
Re: Update on re-using Peepoo as fertiliser in Kenya - by: muench
Thanks for posting about these Peepoo reuse trials here. For those who don't know: Peepoos are small bags made out of degradable plastic and designed in a special way to be used as a safe toilet (containing urea for pathogen kill).

We have talked about Peepoos here on the forum before:
For urban slums in Kenya:

and also here for schools:

and here for emergencies:

Maria, I have some small questions to you:
  1. Is a report available from the mentioned pilot trial which could be shared?
  2. How well is the plastic degrading in practice and do the farmers have to somehow sieve it out of the soil?
  3. Do you have any photos to share (also to be put on the SuSanA flickr database and on Wikipedia Commons? We have so far these: )

Let me just add two photos here for those who are not familiar with Peepoos:

How_to_Use_Peepoo__Niklas_Palmklint_Peepoople[1] by SuSanA Secretariat, on Flickr

Bethel pee poo by SuSanA Secretariat, on Flickr


Could be time to have more content about Peepoos on Wikipedia, so far it is only mentioned on these two pages:]]>
Fertiliser, soil conditioner, production of crops Thu, 13 Aug 2015 11:29:16 +0000
Seminar: Productive Sanitation, Food Security and Resilient Livelihoods: What Have We Learned and What Are Barriers to Scale and Sustainability? (Fertiliser, soil conditioner, production of crops) - by: madeleine
There is a significant growing interest in reuse. We had full house during our event and there were two more events on reuse at the conference also with good attendance and a new crowd. Some of the normal suspects came in late to our event and could not find a seat!

One of the presentation were reflecting two recent stocktaking studies on the development and lessons learnt in Niger and Burkina Faso concerning Ecological Sanitation and reuse. SEI is supporting the study to give us an idea of where we stand today. There is a huge gap on information caused by the previous chaotic situation at WSA.

Several African universities are doing research on reuse with very promising results-. Dr. Roshain Nikiema made a very interesting presentation on IMWIs research on reuse in Ghana , with the foresight of starting up a fertilizer factory in brief.

From the audience there was a sincere demand on more information and many raised questions why there were not more information about the potentials of reuse during the conference.
There is an interesting and thriving development taking place on the African continent where reuse and more systems thinking is core, many universities are involved in this process.

Dr Sudhir Pillay made an impressive presentation from South Africa where a lot research has been undertaken by many Universities and there is now evidence for bringing forward reuse and has also developed a new water policy focusing now or low water use and no sludge Very promising development !

Fertiliser, soil conditioner, production of crops Wed, 15 Jul 2015 12:51:20 +0000
Re: Seminar: Productive Sanitation, Food Security and Resilient Livelihoods: What Have We Learned and What Are Barriers to Scale and Sustainability? - by: SudhirPillay
The regulatory environment is different in South Africa than Burkino Faso. Many of the gap technology systems required scientific validation of the processes. For standard systems, we have guidelines (eg. sewerage sludge) etc. For faecal sludges, there were concerns whether it could be buried safely and used for beneficiation. This led to research into pathogen die-off and leaching from faecal sludge for agroindustries. It was the same with using effluent from DEWATS plant, algal pond systems or struvite reactors (how soil conditions change, do we see more growth, etc).]]>
Fertiliser, soil conditioner, production of crops Wed, 15 Jul 2015 09:38:52 +0000