A young farmer used manure of a community toilet, lowered his cost of cultivation
Shyam Mohan Tyagi can't stop feeling jubilant. As he surveys his paddy field, there is a distinct glint in his eyes. It is puzzling because his crop looks exactly the same as those in adjacent fields. Tyagi is quick to explain the difference the paddy in his field has been nurtured on a diet of urine and decomposed human faeces. He has stopped using fertilizers since 2006.
Tyagi collects urine and decomposed faeces from the special community toilet in his village Asalatpur in Uttar Pradesh's Ghaziabad district. It is a dry toilet that separates excreta, urine and water, so that waste can be used as manure with little treatment. It is called ecosan, short for ecological sanitation.
Selling the idea of ecosan toilets to the villagers was not easy.When Delhi-based ngo, Foundation of Development Research and Action, that set up the toilet in 2005 proposed making use of the collected waste, there were no takers except Tyagi, a 30-year-old history post-graduate.Many farmers use human waste as manure but they baulked at the idea of spraying urine on food crops.
Young as he is, Tyagi was eager to test the pilot project on his one bigha (0.08 hectare) field. His father Moolchand Tyagi did not approve of using decomposed faeces in the field, but he went ahead and the results were encouraging. He did not have to compromise on yield while saving on fertilizers.
|How it works|
|1. Ecosan toilets do not allow water, urine and excreta to mix. The toilet pan has one hole for faeces and another for urine. The area for washing is separate, water from where goes to fields. Faeces collect in a chamber beneath the toilet seat. Once the chamber is full, the toilet is sealed for four months for the excreta to decompose. The gases produced during decomposition escape through a pipe in the chamber. A community toilet room has two toilet seats, which are used alternately.|
|2. After defecation the user has to throw a handful of ash down the hole. This saves flushing 10-12 litres of water. Also, ash absorbs moisture in excreta and increases its alkalinity, thereby controlling the growth of pathogens and preventing foul odour.|
|3. The urine is collected in 500-litre plastic tanks. Before it can be applied in agricultural fields, the urine is kept in an airtight container-to prevent ammonia loss-for two months to eliminate infections.|
|4. Decomposed faeces are used as soil conditioner.|
|5. Stored urine is diluted with water and sprayed in fields.|
Human excreta is rich in soil nutrients. A person produces 4.56 kg of nitrogen (N), 0.55 kg phosphorus (P) and 1.28 kg potassium (K) in a year-enough to take care of 200 sq metre to 400 sq metre. This means India's population of a billion can produce six million tonnes of NPK, one-third the total fertilizer usage in the country.
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