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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Farmer Calls For ‘Managing Manure To Save Mankind’

(Language advisory)

Long-time Ohio farmer Gene Logsdon says human and animal waste, including that from pets, is our greatest and most misunderstood natural resource.  He points out that we spend billions to throw it away, and billions more to manufacture synthetic fertilizers.

Logsdon sees a future when companies might actually pick up human and pet refuse to compost and sell to farmers, and he argues that finding ways to turn our waste into fertilizer is crucial to our survival. Gene Logsdon’s book is “Holy Shit, Managing Manure to Save Mankind.” He also writes the blog, “The Contrary Farmer.”

Book Excerpt: Holy Shit, Managing Manure to Save Mankind

By Gene Logsdon

I half-jokingly suggested about a year ago that animal manure—used livestock, horse, and chicken bedding—was going to be the hottest commodity on the Chicago Board of Trade one of these days. Shortly after that I got a call from a close acquaintance who manages an awesome business of growing 8,000 acres of corn and soybeans—which he knows I consider insane. He wanted to tell me something I never expected to hear from him: he was think¬ing of going into the feedlot beef business. I reminded him that this is rarely profitable in Ohio except as a tax shelter, but he said he didn’t care if it only broke even. It was the manure that he was after, for fertilizer. And he had not read what I had been writing in that regard. Holy shit. I almost dropped the phone. Most of the farmers in my neck of the cornfields agree with what one of them told me over a martini one day: “The only shit that is going to drop on this farm is mine and my wife’s.” He much preferred fertilizing with anhydrous ammonia (one whiff of which could kill him and his wife).

My 8,000-acre friend is no fool, believe me. There are indica¬tions now that such a seemingly absurd prediction about manure might not be so absurd after all. Even the agricultural colleges (almost always among the last to recognize either agricultural or cultural shifts) are scheduling what Ohio State University calls Manure Science Review days. The main reason that manure is suddenly seen as a science is that chemical fertilizer prices are on the rise. Yes, they rise and fall with every paranoid scuttlebutt of the marketplace, but the general direction is definitely north. The price of a specialty fertilizer like ammonium polyphosphate is nearly $1,000 a ton as I write. Deposits of potash in Canada, which we have long relied on for potassium fertilizer, are dwindling, and there is no other known supply as readily available. There is much talk of opening a huge phosphorus mining operation in the South American rain forest, which will hardly be hailed with joy by envi¬ronmentalists. Natural gas, the major source of commercial nitro¬gen fertilizer, is rising in cost as other users compete for it. In fact, there are reasons to believe that the era of reliance on manufac¬tured and mined fertilizers is passing. A society so utterly urban¬ized as ours may not want to face up to what that means, but the end of cheap chemical fertilizer would be almost as earth-shaking as a nuclear bomb explosion.

If we run out of cheap sources of commercial fertilizer, there will be no way to avoid a precipitous decline in crop yields, no matter how rapidly all farmers try to switch to all-organic meth¬ods. And as they switch, the demand for organic fertilizers will also rise precipitously. It has taken us about one hundred years to reduce soil organic matter to dangerously low levels—from about 5 percent, on average, to below 2 percent—and experts say it might take at least that long to build them back up again using organic methods on a large scale. Getting all the manure and other organic wastes needed to maintain yields high enough to support rising populations without a full complement of commercial fertilizers would be an enormous challenge requiring new agricultural and cultural attitudes.

Farmer and author Gene Logsdon. (Rebecca Cartellone)

Farmer and author Gene Logsdon. (Rebecca Cartellone)

It is difficult, however, to suppress a smile at the irony of the situation. For years shit has been seen as something so repugnant that the word itself was scrubbed from polite conversation. The real reason for the ancient prejudice between urban and rural cultures was that before Fels-Naptha—the favorite heavy-duty farm soap—the odor of manure lingered on the skin and clothing of farmers. To become truly civilized meant to escape the barn and pretend that excrement was not a part of life—flush it and forget it. Even farm¬ers bought into the notion. In 1961 Farm Journal, the leading farm magazine of the day, published an article arguing that manure was not worth hauling to the field. To its credit, the magazine renounced the error of its ways in April of 1976 and rather lamely admitted that, in fact, manure was very much worth applying to cropland.

The almost totally urban society of today has energetically opposed gigantic animal confinement operations mostly because of the stench of factory manure. (There are better reasons.) The confinement operators would like to suppress the smell but have not succeeded very well, and they have ignored the traditional method of minimizing odor with bedding. Using bedding instead of water to flush away the shit is too expensive on such a large scale, or so the reasoning has been. Furthermore, in the attempt to make a profit, farmers believe they must continually house larger numbers of animals, so that any possible way for them to handle manure becomes more and more expensive. The larger animal factories today generate as much waste as the human sewage from a large metropolitan area, but, incredibly, they do not have to handle and treat their sewage the way municipalities do.

A few years ago, things looked bleak for giant animal confine¬ment operations. (The outlook is still bleak if you take in the whole situation.) They couldn’t give their manure away. Not enough farmers were interested. (“The only shit that will drop on this farm . . . ,” et cetera, et cetera.) Their huge lagoons of liquid manure regularly overflowed and polluted the landscape. Drying the manure artificially cost heaps of money. Trying to make fuel and energy from it took a heap of money too. Occasionally opera¬tors tried to get rid of the stuff in bad weather, when it could not be spread on farmland, by letting it leak out into waterways, but the manure police caught and fined them. The fines, however, were often less than the subsidies the operators were getting to improve their waste management schemes, and they were not always enforced. That led wiseacres to joke that pollution was becoming a profitable business down on the farm.

Today, the situation has changed rather dramatically. In 2009, with no assurance that grain prices would be high enough to cover the high cost of manufactured fertilizers, farmers lined up at animal confinement operations willing to fork over good hard cash for the manure, since it seems to be cheaper (depending on how you jigger the figures) than commercial fertilizers for farms close by. Manure brokers now flourish. With farmers willing to buy the stuff, animal factories can almost afford to partially compost it, even dry it (with government subsidies to cover some of the cost), to make manure more appealing to farmers—and espe¬cially farmers’ neighbors. The farmer next door to me spread dry, partially composted chicken manure from an egg factory on his acres this year, and wonder of wonders, there was no odor. Thank you, American taxpayer. The laugh of the day now is that maybe manure will become more pricey than food—that the confinement operations will become, in fact and not in jest, manure factories that just happen to produce meat, milk, or eggs as by-products.

The idea that all of agriculture might have to rely on animal (and human) waste to maintain the necessary soil fertility to keep the world from starving is not at all new to civilization. Only in the last hundred years or so has it been possible to lard enough anhydrous ammonia, superphosphate, and muriate of potash on crops to attain record-breaking yields (while burning and beating organic matter out of the soil). Before this “progress,” human society had no other choice but to consider manure—animal and human—to be more precious than gold. At least humans did so in countries that sustained an ample food supply for long periods of time, as China and Japan did. We all need to read again Farmers of Forty Centuries, by F. H. King, published in 1911, about Asian agriculture at that time. In Japan, Korea, and China, manure was treated like a precious gem because it was a precious gem. Every scrap of animal waste, human waste, and plant residue was scrupulously collected and reapplied to the land. So precious was manure that Chinese farmers stored it in burglarproof containers. The polite thing to do after enjoying a meal at a friend’s house was to go to the bathroom before you departed. I am not making that up.

As a result, for hundreds of years the Asian farmer maintained an unbelievably productive agriculture. The food harvested per acre was at the very least five times the amount that American farmers were producing in 1907, when King traveled through Japan and China. Those yields exceed that of American agricul¬ture even today, except where we practice intensive gardening. Indeed, for all practical purposes, a large part of China in 1900 was one huge, intensive, raised-bed garden. The Asian farmer had no choice; population densities were much higher than anything the United States had or has yet experienced. China either produced more food per acre or its people starved. And when they could no longer produce more even with the most rigorous natural fertil¬ity practices, the people did starve. My aunt was a missionary in China in the 1930s and she fascinated me with stories of Chinese pounding rocks to dust and eating the dust for food.

Over the last two centuries, cheap manufactured fertilizers and a seemingly unlimited acreage have allowed the United States to become the champion wastrel of the world. One can only imagine the famine and chaos that would result if we tried to continue that kind of extravagance for forty centuries. As sources of chemical fertilizers decline, either manure will once more become the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or population levels will dramati¬cally decline.

The preceding excerpt is from Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind by Gene Logsdon (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2010).


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  • Jemimah

    Does this mean we might soon start seeing people raid the trash cans at dog parks??

  • Drjayr

    Thanks for ruining my lunch. Do you have to talk about shit at mealtime?

    • Greg4green

      @6124c16bdcbe13c4b1895f9de992b2a2:disqus That’s funny. At the same time, it’s not a bad idea to think about where your lunch came from.

    • Concerned

      Yes, think about where your lunch came from. Nowadays a lot of farmers are using sewsage sludge to fertilize their fields. That’s right, minimally treated human waste. They do this because they get it cheaper than commercial fertilizers. Unfortunately when our feces are treated there are still a good number of heavy metals and pathogens that remain. And yes, if you graze cattle on fields that have been top dressed with this matierial then they’re eating it. Which means you’re eating it too.

  • Ben

    Good ideas from Gene Logsdon. Its is all pretty much old news to me.
    Learned composting and recycling from my grandparents back in the sixties.
    I have friends in Canada and also the US who recycle their own wastes.
    It can be done properly and without the risk of diseases. The key is to cover your waste with wood ashes.
    However for those who live in the cities, it can be somewhat harder to do what can be done out in the countryside.
    I suggest those who wish to get back to the basics of rebuilding and remineralizing the soil to get a hold of Julius Hensel’s BREAD FROM STONES.
    I am always amazed at how ignorant people are of where their food comes from. Many just think that one only need go to the store and get it.
    If you want fresh foods, you grow as many as possible yourself.

  • Bob

    Sorry..You’re wacky…

    • Greg4green

      @Bob – Clearly another victim of “brainwashed” American culture. Anyone who thinks of this as “WACKY” is quite disconnected from the Earth and our beautiful (and broken) food web. I suggest viewing the FREE documentary “DIRT” (a movie with heart and soil) available on HULU:
      http://www.dirtthemovie.org/
      and
      http://www.hulu.com/watch/191666/dirt-the-movie

  • Ben

    What you are speaking of Robin concerning the fish that eat the droppings of chickens or whatever is as follows.

    I have seen firsthand after reading about it many years ago about this method in China.
    The one that comes to mind are the ponds containing the fish, carp. These ponds are ringed with mulberry trees. As the worms feed on these trees, their dropping fall into the pond or its edges. That waste is pushed into the ponds and the carp feed on them.
    Later those carp are harvested for protein.
    A perfect cycle.
    Americans have been brainwashed via the media that only commercial fertilizers, which are petroleum and phosphate based are the only ways to fertilize and nourish the soils. This is a myth and more about monopolies by those interests in making and selling these biologically incomplete materials.

  • tz

    The City of Milwaukee, WI Solid Waste District for years has dried, processed, peletized and marketed it sewage sludge into a commercial lawn and garden fertilizer called Milorganite…it’s a slow release nitrogen, totally organic, and wonderful….

  • Kif

    Wow. Three of the first four responses seem so misinformed for Here and Now listeners. Consider our energy crisis, then research how much energy is used in the preparation of commercial fertilizers.

    As far as how realistic this is for cities, look into where Milorganite comes from.

  • Neal Grose

    I am very glad to hear someone stand up for manure; though I do not relish the idea of hand forking the manure from my SMALL herd of 60 cows.
    Please let me inform everyone on the idea of commercial fertilizers “burn out nutrients” in the soil. What burns out soil is tillage. Soils are dynamic structures that are formed from the top down. Tillage decomposes organic matter with air and sunlight. it also kills micro-organisms and tears apart fungus filaments that gives soils structure. Addition of manure helps correct this; but, it is more important to use no-till farming techniques to minimize tillage. We have dramatically increased soil carbon and restored fertility by eliminating tillage.

  • PS Frog

    I’m trying to figure out whether the farmer was speaking “facetiously” or “feces-ly”? okay bad pun.

  • Rickevans033050

    Gene Logsdon said “If manure was white …”

    Well gull sh*t IS white and I don’t want those sea-rats sh*tting on my car or my head.

    I don’t know about dogs, cats and other animals Logsdon says like to eat manure but my pet tortoise does everything she can to get out of her enclosure and away from her droppings.

    • Anonymous

      @a0719c8f57189f2138597ce636d9a8da:disqus Rickevans033050
      Be reminded that GUANO once was Chile’s biggest export: fertilizer from sea bird droppings.

  • Laura Orlando

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    Gene Logsdon’s commitment to
    manure is a good one; but he’s wrong to conflate human excreta, a valuable
    fertilizer, with sewage sludge, a toxic by-product of sewage treatment.

    Wastewater brings to sewage
    treatment plants all the wastes sent into the sewers from drains and toilets:
    industrial wastes, hospital wastes, commercial wastes, “human waste,”
    radioactive waste, stormwater runoff, and every other kind of hazardous, toxic,
    and biological waste material produced in a municipality and carried away from
    its source via the sewer. Whatever toxins, hazardous materials, and other
    pollutants happen to be removed from the wastewater in the process of
    wastewater treatment, and that are concentrated in the sludge, will remain in
    the sludge. Nothing in the treatment of sewage “treats”—e.g.,
    detoxifies–sludge.

    In
    addition to toxic metals, pathogenic viruses and bacteria, some hazardous
    materials in sludge include: endocrine disruptors like brominated flame retardants
    (PBDEs, which are a lot like PCBs), phthalates like DEHP (a reproductive and
    developmental toxin), persistent and toxic ingredients in personal care
    products (e.g., triclosan and galaxolide), and pharmaceuticals.

    A 2009 EPA study
    (“Targeted National Sewage Sludge Survey”) concluded that all sewage sludge
    contains toxic and hazardous materials, including large numbers of endocrine
    disruptors.

    Sewage sludge – regardless of “treatment,”
    composting, or any other processing — is poison to soil, water, you, and me.
    Gene Logsdon’s credibility on good farm practices went down the sewer when he
    started promoting sludge as fertilizer.

  • Brian Eirschele

    Gene is a little behind on his current knowledge of dairy farming and the barn. Most farmers do not use straw any longer for animal bedding, rather each cow has a mattress. Sand is used to absorb liquid and solid waste. This waste material is than pumped out onto the field with large tankers. A very good fertilizer …………… liquid gold we call it.

  • Ted Johansson

    Having been raised in Jaffrey, NH on a “gentleman’s farm” (the owner then a New York banker), in the 40′s and 50′s, Dad – the caretaker/farmer – my brothers and I all filled the manure spreader and hauled it to the fields. The concrete box we forked it out of was “fed” by an overhead rail from the barn, with a tip bucket we loaded up morning and night. Now in Needham, MA, I compost kitchen waste (with leaves), and use it on my 12×12 garden plot. Listening to the story, made me realize I’ve been tossing away “gold” over the back fence – the solids from four dogs. Now it will go into the compost!

    Mr Logsdon: Pardon the comments from the “city folk”; they probably still think babies are delivered by storks. Keep up the good work! tedjo70@yahoo.com

  • Rande Neukam

    Interesting piece — pulled me out of my work. But of equal interest, was that Dave Mallot I heard come up in the interim sound track? If so, bless you — he’s a New England treasure.

    • http://www.hereandnow.org Kevin Sullivan

      yes, that was indeed David Mallett and his “Haying Song.” -Kevin, H&N producer

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Grace-Jessen/100000847464604 Grace Jessen

    Good interview. We have to think about this…even at lunchtime.

    What sense does it make for me to put feline waste into a plastic bag

    to be retained forever in landfill. Dogs and Cats are important companions

    for people, so we need to ?neutralize that waste. Burying it for a couple

    years would make it usable for compost.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laura.armenta Laura Armenta

    Really wonderful and informative stuff. Totally agree with Gene, getting our hands a bit dirty can help to keep a clean environment

  • Jared

    Human manure is currently being used as fertilizer and commercially available compost. While I lived and went to school at the University of Montana in Missoula, we went to the waste water treatment facility for our Intro to Soils class. And directly adjacent to that facility is an Eco-Compost Plant. The plant and the treatment facility are connected by a conveyor belt that transports the solids, or sludge, separated from the general city sewer waste, to the Eco-Compost facility where it is combined with yard waste (leaves, sticks, etc.) from the community, cooked in giant compost piles, and turned into marketable, clean, healthy compost. It is sold locally and elsewhere. I believe most cities in the US have centralized waste water treatment facilities. It seems logical that, with this centralized infrastructure, we could do this on a large, nationwide scale.

  • Greg4green

    The movie “DIRT” (a movie with heart and soil) is about our inextricable connection to this layer that blankets the Earth. Everyone should see it.
    http://www.dirtthemovie.org/ Watch it for free here: http://www.hulu.com/watch/191666/dirt-the-movie

  • Nefert-tmu

    I didn’t know about the European farmers not using manure in their early days of colonization, but the use of npk in the soil and a lack of crop rotation has contributed to the poor state of the soil in the United States today. The soil today is not even close to what we were left by the Indigenous African-Americans and Native Americans who were farming this land when Europeans arrived.

  • Britta Lee

    Thank you Robin and the staff of Here and Now, I was absolutely thrilled to hear this broadcasted on national radio. It’s about time to get our feces out of our water and back into the soil that makes our food. It makes so much sense to cycle the nutrients we consume back into the soil that grows those nutrients. Not only is this beneficial for nutrient recycling, but also it cleans up our water, which is increasingly becoming more polluted and scarce every day. As far as the toxic/hazardous materials in sewage sludge there are conflicting studies, but this raises the bigger question of why we produce and use so many hazardous materials for our daily lives. Obviously the issue is much larger than food production and nutrient recycling, but it is a move in the right direction. I recommend checking out Joseph Jenkins “Humanure Handbook.”

  • Humanure Guy

    I have been composting my family’s manure for the last five years. Along with doing this is giving up the world’s worst invention: The flush toilet. We use a 5-gal bucket in a nice wooden cabinet with comfortable seat. After making a deposit you just cover it with some sawdust (free from local lumberyard). No water is used. They did not mention the book by Joseph Jenkins “The Humanure Handbook” http://humanurehandbook.com/. This book is wonderfully entertaining and seriously important. Talk about “being green”, giving up the sewer connection and going to a composting toilet and greywater system will have the biggest positive impact on our environment. Is it sane to crap in your own drinking water?

  • Lee Borden

    Something else to keep in mind about humanure composting: it’s far simpler. Using a 5-gallon bucket as a toilet allows even the poorest person to have a cheap, reliable, utterly foolproof toilet. The soil fertility is a great bonus, but think of the money we could save on toilets and plumbing!

  • Anonymous

    Let’s not polarize this. Please…. As with most labels ‘Manure’ is a general label that needs to be dissected significantly for people to have a helpful discussion about plant nutrients, as well as possible contaminants, (both chemical and biological).

    The biggest challenge we face regarding the cycling of the 16 or so universally essential plant nutrients, is the mixing of them with contaminants in our waste treatment systems.

    All higher plants use the essential nutrient elements, albeit in different ratios. [Plus, there is variation in nutrient ratio as to the parts of any given plant, i.e., the Cobalt in a clover plant is found primarily in the blossom. Alfalfa has a high Sulfur requirement, even though all higher plants would die if they did not have any Sulfur, (or Cobalt).] Hydroponic research has taught us this.

    So manure contains whatever ratio of the essential plant nutrients that was contained in the parts of the plant, (or animal) species that was consumed, plus or minus bodily sequestration or elimination. The best use of manure is always to return it — uncontaminated — to where it was mined from the soil. This is because it took countless generation to wrest these nutrients from the rocks. But since this is not always feasible, humanity should at least stop mixing these hard won essential nutrients with toxic waste so they can not be safely used to grow more food somewhere else.

    Manure based fertilizers have enjoyed a good reputation because they tend to be full spectrum and in a form that works well with biologic activity. This biologic activity acts both to buffer nutrients from unwanted soil reactions and leaching. As they cycle within the organism community they are occasionally available to the roots of plants. It’s a pretty conservative system that has served this planet well. We would be wise to study and track the individual essential plant nutrients. This is true whether we we are growing things hydroponically or with Manure.

    For the record; I am a Manure guy, but not a snob. Much of what I have learned about Nutrients came from Hydroponic research. I am more a Manure connoisseur.

  • BenR

    Using manure produced on or near a farm is one thing — but using household waste is another. Fertilizing just our corn crop with household compost would require five million truckloads of the stuff! It may be good for household gardening, but it’s just not viable for commercial farming. http://reason.com/blog/2009/07/31/real-farmer-rips-michael-polla
    Human waste may be more efficient, but there’s always going to be economic and environmental advantage to sticking with the artificial stuff. Organic agriculture really only makes sense to the extent that it’s practiced on-site. If you have to bring in nutrients from outside, artificial is far more efficient.

    • Nefert-tmu

      I don’t get the economic advantage of using the artificial stuff. Why not factor in the real costs of the damage to the water table, damage to the earth, damage to the bees who help to pollinate the crops? There is no way that organic agriculture is more efficient than “conventional.”

      • BenR

        The economic advantage of the artificial stuff vs. compost is that you don’t have to truck millions of tons of compost around the country. Artificial fertilizer weighs much less, so it’s a lot easier to transport. If you look at the link I provided, you can see that the use of herbicides also allows for the practice no-till farming, which greatly reduces erosion. I agree that *all* environmental costs are important — but let’s not pretend that organic agriculture has none.

  • Caroline Snyder

    As Laura points out, there is no similarity between humanure, animal manure on the one hand, and sewage sludge or biosolids the toxic residuals removed from waste water. Every month every industry, hospital, business, and institution is permitted to discharge 33 pounds of hazardous waste into sewage treatment plants. Here these pollutants, together with thousands of other unregulated and unmonitored synthetic chemicals are REMOVED from the waste water and CONCENTRATE in the resulting sludge or biosolids. This is why the Federal Clean Water Act defines biosolids/sludge as a pollutant.
    The US rules governing this risky practice are based neither on science or facts. They permit repeated use of sludge on the same site until there is a 50% yield reduction. In fact a dairy farmer recently was compensated by the US Department of Agriculture for land that had been so seriously poisoned by toxics-containing sludge that he was no longer able to grow crops. THree years ago Class A sludge from the Milwaukee sewage plant that sells Milorganite contained such high levels of cancer-causing PCBs, that the contaminated sludge had to be scraped off 24 playgrounds and parks and shipped out of state to a hazardous waste landfill. Major food processors, such as Heinz and DelMonte do not accept produce grown on land treated with sludge. To preserve and protect our farm land for future generations, use clean composts and seasoned manure. But avoid biosolids/sludge. Hazardous industrial waste does not belong on the land were we grow our food. For additional information about the many risks associated with using biosolids/sludge as a fertilizer, visit http://www.sludgefacts.org

  • Dixonsally

    As I recall Milorganite was fertilizer made from the sanitation sludge. Other cities tried it; but, the market was not large enough at that time. Perhaps now is different.

  • Beverly Mire

    The Conservation Center at The Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests in Concord recycles human waste. Terrascope Youth Radio Reporter Hichem Hadjeres did a short about it, listen here:
    http://web.mit.edu/tyr/Archive/Su2009/RecycledHumanWaste-SPNHF.mp3.
    The rest stop/visitor center in Salisbury (off Rte 95 So) has water-free toilets and they say they recycle the wast.

  • Kitchensink

    i missed the show, so i am not sure whether the effect of drugs/hormones/anti-biotics passing though animals (including human animals) would be addressed in this use. there is a problem already with these things showing up in Puget Sound water samples. i can think of a lot of people whose shit i would never compost! and feedlot cattle manure i wouldn’t trust either! we get manure for our garden from local friends who do not mess with their animals.

  • Anonymous

    We need to keep the hazardous chemicals out of our waste water, then!  We can get methane (to make electricity, or to heat buildings) from all manure, and the remaining slurry is fixed nitrogen, high quality fertilizer.

    Another big problem with chemical fertilizers, is that since the nitrogen is water soluble (not fixed), most of it (~80%) runs off in the first rain fall.  This kills off life in local bodies of water (first causing an algae bloom, and then too much oxygen, then when everything dies, the oxygen mostly goes away).

    But wait, there’s more: the nitrogen combines with oxygen forming nitrous oxide — which is a greenhouse gas.  From all agriculture, we are emiting about 1/4 of all the greenhouse gasses coming from human activity.

    A great film called “Dirt! The Movie” is directly related to this.

    http://dirtthemovie.org/

    Organic farming is the only sustainable way to live.  We use way too much oil and natural gas, and we are depleting both the dirt through erosion and nutrient losses, and the fossil water aquifers.  Monoculture is not sustainable, and oil and gas supplies are finite.  The organic lifecycle is virtually infinite, and we need to go back to what has worked for over 10,000 years.

    Sincerely, Neil

  • conley major

    A BREATH OF FRESH AIR  ,SIMPLE YET PROFOUND,AS IT WAS IN THE BEGINNING , I HOPE HE IS NOT TO FAR A HEAD OF HIS TIME!

  • loucilecarson

    It’s indeed a good idea, composting from manure or farm waste is kinda cheap and effective way to attain much better fertilizer for farmers.

  • Anonymous

    Great post i like to see it because it’s a relevant of my business… i loved to see it.. it has great info about the stones types and lots more……masonry productsBrick stone 

  • George

    A number of comments have been made about the use of sewage sludge, and its probable contamination with heavy metals and toxic organic compounds.  All of this is true, but no reason that sewage sludge could not be used as source of methane.  If we were to view sludge as an industrial chemical and that the current disposal cost is something  should be recovered, the financials begin to work.  It is a matter of changing our thinking around municipal sewage and garbage collection and treatment.   Nationally, the various infrastructures need renewal.  If we were to incorporate sludge recovery to methane generation in the design of new treatment plants, the methane would provide “green” energy while at the same time reducing the total mass of sludge which would then require disposal.   Further processing could then recover the phosphates, further reducing to final mass for disposal.   I have spent over 40 years in the chemical industry and have thought about this process.  The increased cost of “waste” by-product disposal, coupled with the increase cost of petroleum feedstock makes makes the economics of sewage conversion favorable.   It will require an integrated approach.  The current political climate, and the new sources of natural gas do not place public officials in favor of such endeavors.   I would like to discuss  this concept with municipal officials, but currently there seems to be minimal interest.

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