Human feces as fertilizer

I know a gentleman who just came back from Indoesia. He explained to me how human feces is used in the rice fields as a fertilizer. I asked if he fortunate enough to visit a tea plantation and if he had heard human feces were used here as well. He did visit plantations, but was unsure about the feces. I am wondering if anyone has heard of this practice with tea, and how do you guys feel about this if it used. Working in the medical field, I know how easily feces is spread from surface to surface. Do you feel is this unsafe or do you think the processing of the tea would kill off any lingering bacteria that might have been spread via touch to the leaves, baskets, etc. I realize cow/sheep dung is used world-wide on plants, but the thought of human waste used on products for human consumption really makes want to gag. Thought?
11 Replies

Isn’t that one of the ways that always gets blamed when e-coli makes an appearance? And isn’t it generally on vegetable products? I realize they are generally fresh veggies, but I’m not sure I would completely trust the processing to kill things. Not a scientist, though, so don’t really know for sure. :) Does make me feel a bit oogie about it though…

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Jillian said

Gah, no wonder cholera (among other things) is such a problem in that part of the world. DX

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It is a little concerning. I am hoping some of the tea companies who have visited the plantations could give us a little input.

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VeryPisces said

Human feces isn’t the greatest for health reasons because of the chemicals we ingest in our faux foods and in various medicines. But we use animal manure to enrich soil and we know what we feed them!

Jillian said

The chemicals we ingest are the least of you worries when you consider that human waste is an excellent vector for all sorts of nasty diseases.

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If the feces was treated, as cow manure is here, before use in the field, that is a plus, but being poor countries who produce the majority of teas, I doubt it would be.

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Kiaharii said

Ew. Using manure from herbivores is a bit different than carnivore/omnivores. There’s a reason you can compost horse poop and not dog poop.

This is very true. Besides safety/sanitary issue, carnivore feces are not as good fertilizer as herbivores’ feces. Herbivore’s feces contains large amount of plant fiber which decompose more slowly and has essential nutrients that are not found in carnivore feces (probably because carnivores are very efficient in assimilating these nutrients and therefore little is left in the feces).

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For those of you who can bear with more feces talking :-p I once wrote a blog about a nice tea product that benefited from sheep droppings ;-)

http://gingkobay.blogspot.com/2012/05/concept-tea-11-orchid-and-sheep.html

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I also want to add that for a lot of teas, the best fertilization season is winter, when there is barely any yield. And the best way of application is to bury the fertilizer (usually small, solid cakes made of plant fibers or feces) into the soil. This way the plants will assimilate the nutrients very slowly and make full use of the nutrients. The fertilization is not messy when applied this way, and will not have direct contact with tea leaves.

That sounds a little more palatable. lol

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