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Our own fertilizer

We ourselves produce fertiliser every day -which, if properly composted, constitutes a constant supply for our ecological market garden/private garden, and without any danger to our health.  [1]

 [1]  “A market garden is the relatively small-scale production of fruits, vegetables and flowers as cash crops, frequently sold directly to consumers and restaurants. The diversity of crops grown on a small area of land, typically from under 0.40 hectares (4,000 m2; 1 acre) to some hectares (a few acres), or sometimes in greenhouses, distinguishes it from other types of farming.

A market garden is a business that provides a wide range and steady supply of fresh produce through the local growing season. Unlike large, industrial farms, which practice monoculture and mechanization, many different crops and varieties are grown and more manual labour and gardening techniques are used.

The small output requires selling through such local fresh produce outlets as on-farm stands, farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture subscriptions, restaurants and independent produce stores. Market gardening and orchard farming are closely related to horticulture, which concerns the growing of fruits and vegetables. “ (Wikipedia)

Manure % Moisture % Nitrogen % Phosphorus % Potassium
Human 66-80 5-7 3-5,4 1-2,5
Cattle 80 1,7 1,1 0,56
Sheep 68 3,8 1,9 1,3
Hen 56 6,3 5,9 3,3

Hentet fra Joseph Jenkins (2019:87): The Humanure Handbook. Opprinnelig fra Harold B. (1956) -Sanitary Dispoal and Reclamation of Organic Wastes. pp 35,37,40 World Health Organisation, Monograph Series Number 31. Geneva.


Advantages of ecological sanitation. Maize trial with human urine and use of compost with human manure (faeces and urine) (GTZ) [1]

[1]  The GTZ-ecosan Programme – aspects of knowledge management and networking (2006). See also GTZ Ecosan Approach

East vs West-in a historical perspective

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

.. 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. 

At the turn of the twentieth century in the East, the water in Chinese rivers was safe to drink. The Chinese were as numerous as the Americans and Europeans at the time, and they had large, densely populated cities, too. The difference was that they maintained an agricultural system that was based on human “waste” as a fertilizer. Stools and urine were collected with care and discipline, and transported over sometimes considerable distances. They were mixed with other organic waste, composted and then spread across the fields.

 That’s killing two birds with one stone: no pollution of drinking water, and an agricultural system that could have lasted forever. In fact, it did last 4,000 years..”

 Kris De Decker (September 15, 2010): Recycling Animal and Human Dung is the Key to Sustainable Farming


Ecological sanitation (United Nations Development Programme/ Swedish International Development Cooperation)

«Ecological sanitation offers an alternative to conventional sanitation, and it attempts to solve some of society’s most pressing problems: infectious disease, environmental degradation and pollution, and the need to recover and recycle nutrients for plant growth. In doing so, ecological sanitation helps to restore soil fertility, conserve freshwater and protect marine environments –which are sources of water, food and medicinal products for people.

In the alternative approach to sanitation —ecological sanitation— excreta are processed on site, and if so required off site, until completely free from pathogens and inoffensive. ..Ecological sanitation (..) is a different way of thinking: a “closed-loop-approach” to sanitation, in which the nutrients in excreta are returned to soil instead of water or deep pits.

In ecological sanitation systems no water, or very little water, is required. It is thus very appropriate for areas with water shortages or irregular water supplies. It is a decentralised system, based on household and community management, and the need to invest in large-scale infrastructure and operate centralised institutions is drastically reduced. Fewer sewers and deep pit latrines will reduce the risk of pollution of ground and surface water.”

Steven A. Esrey Ingvar Andersson Astrid Hillers Ron Sawyer; UNDP/SIDA (2001:1,3-4): CLOSING THE LOOP. Ecological sanitation for food security (emphasise added)


Joseph Jenkins’ take on human manure [1]

[1]  If not otherwise indicated, based on Joseph Jenkins (2019): The Humanure Handbook, and from the same author: The Compost Toilet Handbook (2021).

To describe human excreta, Joseph Jenkins coined the term ‘humanure’:

Humanure (human manure) is human fecal material and urine recycled for agricultural purposes via thermophilic composting # Humanure contains valuable soil nutrients that enhance plant growth.. When recycled by composting, pollution and health threats associated with human excrement can be eliminated.

# Involving thermophilic bacteria that thrives above 45°C…If temperatures rise above 160° F (71° C), the compost can sterilize itself, killing off the beneficial microorganisms. (https://compost.css.cornell.edu/Factsheets/FS5.html)

A compost toilet collects human faeces, urine and toilet paper for recycling. It is not a device for waste management -for sewage-, such as a flush toilet. When something is recycled it is not thrown away and is not “waste” (that’s why we call it ‘human manure’ as opposed to ‘human waste’).

Compostingis the managed, aerobic [in the presence of oxygen] decomposition of organic material in such a manner that it develops internal biological heat. It is the feeding of humanure, food scraps, and other organic materials to invisible organisms such as beneficial bacteria. [2]

[2] As organisms decompose waste, they generate heat. Decomposition is most rapid when the temperature is between 90° and 140° F (32 – 60° C). Below 90° F (32° C), the process slows considerably, while above 140° F (60° C) most microorganisms cannot survive. https://compost.css.cornell.edu/Factsheets/FS5.html

“Hot composting involves building a compost pile (..) which is at least one cubic metre in size, any less than this and it wont be able to generate the heat required to break down the organic matter and kill off pathogens (bad bugs) in the desired time frame” (https://goodlifepermaculture.com.au/make-hot-compost/)

Some basics on composting

There are two things that all composting methods have in common,

    • the first thing is the ingredientsThere are 4 universal inputs:carbon, nitrogen, water and air. Carbon ingredients is anything that’s dry and brown (think dead), such as straw, hay, brown leaves (..) Nitrogen is anything that’s really fresh including animal manures (horse, cow, chicken, sheep, rabbit etc (leave out cat poo due to the risk of totoxoplasmosis)), green lawn clippings, food scraps and green waste.
    • The second thing all compost methods have in common is that these ingredients are layered. Just like a lasagna, the carbon and nitrogen materials are layered, alternating between the two until you’ve reached at least one cubic metre as seen below.

The layer of twigs at the bottom helps increase airflow and drainage from the pile. Once that’s down you can get started with your carbon and nitrogen layers.



Humanure is composted with ‘no-turning’ compost bins

The collected toilet material is taken to a compost bin and added to the bin’s contents. This enable safe and effective recycling (really ‘upcycling’!) and conversion to valuable compost for gardens and agriculture.

Humanure composting means “contained” composting. The compost is collected only in bins and always kept covered. [It thus] isolate and quarantine the humanure so that it does not come into contact with soil or water, nor can it be accessed by children or animals.

The cover material at the top of the compost should be set aside for the humanure and other material to be emptied into the center of the compost and then laid back at the top.

Joseph Jenkins (2021:62): The Compost Toilet Handbook
Note the cover material at the sides and at the top.

“..if you have straw bales, you can peel off “chips” from                   the bales, which are flat straw sections a few inches thick,             and position them flat against the inside of the bins to line           the interior walls before adding your organic material.”            (Jenkins 2019:229)


A correctly managed compost bin will expose nothing but the cover material. At no time is the organic material inside the been accessible to flies. Even if the bin has large gaps in the sidewalls, the cover material envelope that surrounds the compost contains the compost inside the bin, allowing nothing to escape. .” (Jenkins 2021:60)

Image & puicture; Joseph Jenkins (2021:48, 60): The Compost Toilet Handbook  


Contained compost piles are in contrast to open piles that must be turned: Jenkins notes that when someone piles organic material in an open pile, it will stink and attract flies. Open compost heaps provide large surfaces (a lot of surface in relation to volume). It therefore becomes too demanding to use cover material such as sawdust or straw. But the result is that the internal heat in the pile does not reach all external surfaces. Then it must be turned over repeatedly to get the outside facing in, so that all parts of the compost can be exposed to the internal temperatures.

Turning is a very labor intensive process and totally unnecessary when containing the organic material in a covered bin. According to Jenkins, ‘compost organisms do not like raw humanure because it is too wet and too high in nitrogen. But when combined with drier materials that are higher in carbon, the compost organisms love to eat humanure.’ Also, cover material added at each emptying of new material into the bin, keeps the compost aerobic by creating tiny air spaces in the compost.


Health issues and how compost kills human disease organisms

Feces can contain disease organisms that can contaminate the environment and infect people when they are discarded as waste material and pollutant (..). The World Health Organization estimates that 80% of all diseases are related to inadequate sanitation and polluted water, and that half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients who suffer from water-related diseases.

When toilet material is not composted and sewage is dispersed into the environment, various diseases and parasites can infect the population living in the contaminated areas. On the other hand, disease organisms are not spread by properly prepared compost.

There is no reason to believe that the manure of a human being is dangerous unless it is allowed to accumulate in the environment, polluted soil or water, or breed flies and rats, all of which are the results of negligence, or ignorance. Collecting and composting toilet material can provide hygienically safe, ecological sanitation without the use of dangerous chemicals, prohibitive costs, or a high level of technology and energy consumption.

Compost kills human disease organisms. This is important, well-established science. It’s what makes composting such a valuable practice. A combination of factors inhibits pathogens in compost, including:

    • Competition for food from composts microorganisms
    • Inhibition and antagonism by composts microorganisms
    • Consumption by compost organisms
    • Biological heat generated by compost organisms
    • Antibiotics produced by composts microorganisms                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             ”               

Joseph Jenkins (2021:131,133): The Compost Toilet Handbook. Jenkins informs that much of the pathogen information is adapted from Appropriate technology for water supply and sanitation by Feachem et al.,World Bank 1980. (emphasise added)


A Global Perspective

“ The infrastructure, water, and wealth required for flush toilets simply do not exist in much of the world. There must be something else for them — a different way to have a toilet.”  [Jenkins 2019: 3]

WHO (2024) on the sanitation problems

    • Over 1.5 billion people still do not have basic sanitation services, such as private toilets or latrines.
    • Of these, 419 million still defecate in the open, for example in street gutters, behind bushes or into open bodies of water.
    • At least 10% of the world’s population is thought to consume food irrigated by wastewater.
    • Poor sanitation reduces human well-being, social and economic development due to impacts such as anxiety, risk of sexual assault, and lost opportunities for education and work.
    • Poor sanitation is linked to transmission of diarrhoeal diseases such as cholera and dysentery, as well as typhoid, intestinal worm infections and polio. It exacerbates stunting and contributes to the spread of antimicrobial resistance.


      World Health Organization (2024): Sanitation

Humanure as a resource

“A 2012 paper about the value of the humanure in the African nation of Niger showed that the average excreta production per family per year is equivalent to approximately 200 pounds [approx. 90 kilo] of chemical fertilizer. They can’t afford to buy this amount of fertilizer, but they produce it themselves by natural processes and don’t even realize it. How does one convert excrement back into food? What’s the process? Is it safe? The answer, in a word, is composting 

..Asians recycled human excrement for thousands of years..(..) profound consideration should be given to the practices (..) which permit it to be said of China that one-sixth of an acre [an acre =ca. 4,000 m2, 1/6 acre= ca 650 m2, slightly over 25 x 25 m] of good land is ample for the maintenance of one person, and which are feeding an average of three people per acre of farm land in the three southernmost islands of Japan.”

 Joseph Jenkins (2019:45, 33-34): The Humanure Handbook (emphasise and text in brackets added)


A Perspective from Southern Africa- at the turn of the millenia [1]

[1] Based mostly upon Dr. Peter Morgan (2004) Aquamor, Harare, Zimbabwe An Ecological Approach to Sanitation in Africa: A Compilation of Experiences http://www.ecosanres.org/PM_Report.htm

Consider the following:

  • Roughly 1in 7 of the world’s population is still defecating in the open, not having access to a toilet or latrine. Many more lack proper sanitation. This is a crisis because using a hygienic toilet or latrine is essential for sanitation. Widespread diarrhoea is one major result. With around 1.5 million deaths each year, it kills more children than malaria, AIDS, and measles combined.
  • The top-soils of many parts of Africa and Asia are worn out and critically lacking in organic matter and nutrients. Animal manure is widely used in areas where cattle are kept. But huge numbers of people do not own cattle. Commercial fertilisers are also becoming increasingly unaffordable for many. In Zimbabwe, 70% of rural farmers work on soil that is unable to sustain a good crop without the use of manure or fertiliser.

The irony is that human excreta, handled properly, can address more than the sanitation problem; Feces contains a well balanced mix of nutrients, while its high organic content makes food and energy available for microorganisms that cycle these nutrients to the plants. Composted and applied to the soil, excellent humus is built up.

This translates into ‘ecological sanitation’– where human excreta can be processed to improve soil fertility and enhance food production, with minimal threat to human health and to pollution. And it’s a resource renewed everyday!


According to SEI (2014):


    • The annual combined excreta of one family contains around as much useful plant nutrients as 50 kg of urea and 50 kg NPK (common commercial chemical fertilizers).  
    • About 90% of the nitrogen, 65% of the phosphorus, and 73% of the potassium in human excreta is found in urine, in a composition similar to chemical fertilizers.  
    • The urine produced by one person during one year is sufficient to fertilize 300-400 m2 of cereal cultivation/crops.


Stockholm Environment Institute (2014): Agricultural Trials Demonstrate Benefits of Urine Harvesting and Sustainable Sanitation  (emphasise and bullets added)