Terra Preta Signatures in India

This video is regarding the agricultural practices in vogue in India since ages. Some of these practices knowingly or unknowingly contributing charcoal plus components to the soil.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

TERRA PRETA & URINE

I prefer and agree to collect the urine fresh from the source using
charcoal without loosing any value. Here is what I am doing.
I requested my kids to urinate in the clay jars (~ 6 inches diameter
and ~10 inches height) with very fine holes (2mm dia) at the
bottom filled with charcoal produced from using Magh-1 woodgas stoves.
These jars are kept in the toilet are able to absorb about 200 ml of

urine (single time) easily with out any leakage at the bottom. Between
the intervals of urination of about 6 hours duration, the moisture is
reduced to some extent, but always wet and cool because of clay
jars. The total urine per day was around 500 ml. After about 10 days I
could smell something like ammonia from the jar, I thought now it has
reached saturation level. I kept the jar aside in a cool place to use
for experiments. I have not analysed for actual contents in this product.
The advantages / ideas are:
The coolness of the clay jar reduced evaporation losses
Reduction of urine odor as charcoal is used, more acceptance to
collect urine fresh in the toilets, we can easily design urinals free
of smell, instead of using fresheners (napthaline balls, scents,
phenyl, etc) in the toilets.
The schools are the best places to get kids urine, disease free and no
medicines used.
No flies are seen sitting on the jars, but some big black ants seen to
enjoy drinking the urine spilled ? ?
And many other advantages as discussed earlier in the group.

10 comments:

Dr. N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy said...

Dear Dr Reddy

I would pose for your consideration the following:

* The pottery chards in Brazilian Terra Preta come from containers that
were used to store urine. *


This would make great sense, for the following reasons:






1: People find odors from decomposition of urine and feces unpleasant,
and will go to great lengths to dispose of these wastes at some distance
from their living quarters.


2: In a Primitive Society, in the tropics, people would not want to go
outside after dark to urinate and defecate, simply because of the
presence of poisonous snakes, poisonous insects, and harmful animals.


3: They had the technology to make pottery jars and containers.


4: It would be very simple and convenient to use some of these pottery
containers as "Chamber Pots" for use inside the home at night.


5: It would be very logical and convenient to have a larger pottery
container outside the home for daily emptying of Chamber Pots into a
""Slop Pail" or larger pottery equivalent, such as a "Slop Pot.".


6: It would be very logical for the Home Owner to periodically empty the
Slop Jar at some distance from the home.


7: After one or two growing seasons, it would be very obvious that "the
grass was greener" and "things grew better" where Slop Jars had been
previously emptied.


8: Primitive people would see immediate benefit from having disposed of
their body wastes at a distance from their Homes, such immediate
benefits the lack of flies, insects, and unpleasant odors.


9: Porous pottery jars would be an excellent container for such body
wastes, in that the evaporation by the leakage water would tend to cool
the jars, extending the time the wastes could be stored before they
became particularily offensive.


10: Once a pottery container had been used as a "Chamber Pot" or "Slop
Pot", it could never be used again for storage of food or consumables,
because of the unpleasant smell and salts that would be concentrated in
the pottery, because of evaporation.


11: In very small communities, people would be reasonably close to their
gardening area, and would likely dump their Slop Pots in their own fields.


12: In larger communities, where some people were not directly earning
their living as Farmers, they would have a problem disposing of their
daily wastes. It would be likely that some people would become "Slop Pot
Disposers."


13: The relatively weak Slop Pots would be subject to frequent breakage.
Breakage would be most likely during handling, but would be
particularily likely to be broken when being dumped. It would be a
difficult and unpleasant task to pick up the pottery shards for disposal
elsewhere.


14: Initially, it would be likely that the large broken shards would be
picked up and disposed of elsewhere, simply to avoid future tillage
problems in teh fields. Because of absorbed "fertilizer salts and
micro-organisms", it would soon become noticed that "the grass was
greener" in areas where the pottery shards were disposed of.


15 Much simpler for the Disposer would be to simply break the larger
shards into smaller shards that would not interfere with future tillage,
and leave then in the fields where they broke. It would be an easy job
for the Slop Disposer to sell the Farmer on the benefits of leaving the
broken shards in the field, as an "aid to growth."


16: We are told that there were large Terra Preta fields and large
Communities located near them. Disposal of human wastes on the nearby
fields may have been the fundamental factor that enabled the Community
to grow to the larger size for two very important reasons: A: The first
and most obvious reason would be increased soil fertility and and
abundant food supply, for both local consumption and for trading. B:
Perhaps even more fundamentally important would be the the improved
health and vigor of the People of the community as a result of improved
sanitation.


17: With a demand for Slop Pots and Chamber Pots, due to relatively
frequent breakage, there would be an economic opportunity for Potters,
to make and fire the pots. It would seem to be natural for the Slop
Haulers to "vertically integrate" and establish their own Pottery Works.


18: It would thus seem that Terra Preta was one element in permitting
the development of a larger community. It would appear to be a secondary
element, in that teh sanitation benefit would permit a higher level of
primary health, and and bountiful harvests from fertilized fields would
permit sustenance of good health.


19: The Chinese are well known for their use of "night soil".
Archaelogical studies of Chinese Society would probably show up the
equivalent of "Chinese Terra Preta". Indeed, with historical migratory
patterns, it may very well have been that "Terra Preta" was invented in
China, and brought to "The New World" with migration of Asian People.
It would be interesting indeed to trace back tom the origins of Fine
Chinese Pottery.


20: This seems to tie together many things of importance to a Society,
but it overlooks one ingredient in Terra Preta, that being char.
Elemental carbon can be created by pyrolysis, and this is called "char"
or "charcoal", but the essence of Terra Preta is not char or charcoal,
but rather "Black Carbon", BC.


21: We know from bogs and swamps and lake bottoms that there is a
mechanism where organic vegetative matter can make the transition
from "organic carbon" to a "black carbon" that is not further
consumable readily by soil or bog or lake bottom organisms. Some
significant portion of the BC in Terra Preta Soils could very well have
resulted from heavy application of Slops, which then gave a "fertile
base from which to grow crops very successfully.


22: There would naturally be "profuse agricultural waste" from such
profuse growth. This could indeed be a disposal problem, and fire is a
very simple way of getting rid of bulky agricultural waste.


23: Additionally, we have the method suggested by Robert Kline for
disposing of Maize Stocks.


24: It would be a simple extension for the Amazonians to project that
"if some BC is good, then more is better". They could easily see that
more charcoal = more black soil. In effect, they were "doing the right
thing for the wrong reasons."


24: What they were doing by going to a bit of extra work by building the
"char mounds" described by Robert, was providing much more Cationic
Exchange Potential, save haven for soil micro-organisms, and the ability
to capture and store excess nutrients for future use. Too much Slops in
a given area would likely lead to "nutrient overload" condition.


25: The employment of Robert's Char Technology may have been a
"de-bottlenecking" step that allowed yields from Slop treated soils to
rise to an even higher level.


26: With "the benefit of 20-20 hindsight," we can see how TP could have
evolved to yield a superior agricultural system from its roots as a
waste disposal system.


27: An interesting but unrelated parallel ecosystem is that of
Aquaponics, where "fish water" is applied to plants, and the "stripped
water" is sent back to the fish pond. Originally, with Pond Aquaculture,
and a lack of water, there was a limit to fish loading because of
ammonia and nitrate buildup. Aquaculturists found that plants would
remove teh ammonia from teh fish water, enabling them to grow more fish
with less "new water." Then the Plant People ran with teh idea and
started growing fish to get a second paying crop, and free fertilizer
for their plants.


Does this all hang together for you? Do you see any logic gaps or
problems that would negate what is presented above?


Best wishes,


Kevin

Appeard in www.terrapreta.bioenergylists.org

Dr. N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy said...

Kevin,


I like your idea. Below is an extract on using urine in Chinese farming. They are now re-designing toilets away from the Western model so that this valuable stuff isn't just flushed away.


from: FARMING: MANURING. P. H. HASE. J. Dyer Ball in his "Things Chinese"


By far the most important fertilisers used in the New
Territories were human and animal wastes; night-soil and urine.
These were prepared in three distinct ways.
Each house had a urine bucket — a simple wooden bucket
with a rope handle — which was usually kept in a small walled off
area immediately to one side of the main door of the house. In
addition, each family would place large pots in convenient corners
of its fields as a urinal. Further such pots would be placed
wherever public footpaths crossed a family's fields. In some
cases a simple low fence or rough wall would shield these pots,
to render them more attractive to the more sensitive and shy
wayfarer. Every day the family would take a bucket and empty
their pots into it, and carry the bucket back and empty it into
large storage jars belonging to the family. These storage jars
were placed on the edge of the rice drying grounds (^.^).
Cattle urine was a particularly valuable addition to the
family storage jars. Several villagers have told us that cattle
were trained to urinate as soon as they came back to the village
at night. Boys of the family would stand by with special buckets
on long poles to catch the urine: if the cattle were slow they
would be whistled to in a special way, or be tapped gently with
the rim of the bucket on the appropriate spot.
Urine was stored for some time to mature and become less
burning and acid. It was taken from the storage jars in buckets
when needed, and mixed with water. It was then carefully poured
by a dipper around the base of individual vegetable plants, or
else tipped into the watering can and sprinkled generally over a
whole field, usually of vegetables. With rice, the urine and water
mix was scattered by dipper-fulls over the field at the appropriate
times, particularly the seedbed stage, and then again just before
the final maturity stage, that is, after the field had been drained.
Urine was so valued as a fertiliser that it was actually
stealable: youths out at night would sometimes try to take a
dipper-full from a neighbour's storage jar and add it to their
own family jar. For this reason the storage jars would be kept
as close as possible to the family home, and under the watchful
eye of the family dogs.

Gerald

Dr. N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy said...

By far the most important fertilisers used in the New
Territories were human and animal wastes; night-soil and urine.
These were prepared in three distinct ways.
Each house had a urine bucket — a simple wooden bucket
with a rope handle — which was usually kept in a small walled off
area immediately to one side of the main door of the house. In
addition, each family would place large pots in convenient corners
of its fields as a urinal. Further such pots would be placed
wherever public footpaths crossed a family's fields. In some
cases a simple low fence or rough wall would shield these pots,
to render them more attractive to the more sensitive and shy
wayfarer. Every day the family would take a bucket and empty
their pots into it, and carry the bucket back and empty it into
large storage jars belonging to the family. These storage jars
were placed on the edge of the rice drying grounds (^.^).
Cattle urine was a particularly valuable addition to the
family storage jars. Several villagers have told us that cattle
were trained to urinate as soon as they came back to the village
at night. Boys of the family would stand by with special buckets
on long poles to catch the urine: if the cattle were slow they
would be whistled to in a special way, or be tapped gently with
the rim of the bucket on the appropriate spot.
Urine was stored for some time to mature and become less
burning and acid. It was taken from the storage jars in buckets
when needed, and mixed with water. It was then carefully poured
by a dipper around the base of individual vegetable plants, or
else tipped into the watering can and sprinkled generally over a
whole field, usually of vegetables. With rice, the urine and water
mix was scattered by dipper-fulls over the field at the appropriate
times, particularly the seedbed stage, and then again just before
the final maturity stage, that is, after the field had been drained.
Urine was so valued as a fertiliser that it was actually
stealable: youths out at night would sometimes try to take a
dipper-full from a neighbour's storage jar and add it to their
own family jar. For this reason the storage jars would be kept
as close as possible to the family home, and under the watchful
eye of the family dogs.
Gerald

Dr. N. Sai Bhaskar Reddy said...

REGARDING MORE COMMENTS AND DISCUSSION ON THIS SUBJECT PLEASE SEE THE FOLLOWING SUBJECTS IN TERRA PRETA GROUP DISCUSSIONS

http://terrapreta.bioenergylists.org

[Terrapreta] The Reason for Pottery Shards in Terra Preta. Re: Char and compost ( was Char made made under pressurized conditions? )

CAUTION ON URINE

URINE STORAGE QUESTION

Gardnermom said...

I noticed that you stated some ants were enjoying the spilled urine. That says there is sugar in the urine. Maybe the children should be careful how much sugar they are eating, as it leads to diabetes. I enjoyed the rest of the information.

Gardnermom said...

I noticed that you stated some ants were enjoying the spilled urine. That says there is sugar in the urine. Maybe the children should be careful how much sugar they are eating, as it leads to diabetes.

gerda said...

hey dr. reddy, you are back! hooray!
i was following the terra preta experiment with interest. i am in southern england. i have been adding the char from my open fires and wood burning stoves to the compost for 10 years now and have noticed the way the fertility stays in the compost.
re - urine, i have been using this for about 15 years, diluted as a very useful high nitrogen liquid feed and also as a compost activator.
i lived as a traveller for many years, being a girl i didnt like to go outside to wee at night, that is how my practice of collecting it and then using it started.
the two obviously go together, the char will retain the nutrients from the urine and release them slowly.

Pangolin said...

It occurs to me that a bisque fired pot filled with weeds, charcoal, ash, urine and feces would make an effective drip irrigation system for clumps of plants.

Rather than watering each plant a farmer watering between rains would haul his bucket to the pot surrounded by plants and water the pot. Instead of evaporating or running off the pot would seep nutrient rich water to the plants slowly.

This could account for the extra 'black carbon' as anaerobic bacteria would tend to digest biomass and create a silt layer of carbon at the bottom of the pots.

After a time the pores of these pots would choke and need to be broken and replaced with fresh pots. This would explain the buildup.

Our local soil is a red clay that can form a hard crust and make it difficult to deeply water plants in the summer. Char works very well at amending this as well as making weeding much easier.

Thank you for your work and continued publication.

Storm Runner said...

I would esimate that by the conditions i say in your videos the charred coal and pottery chards (both finely gound and charged with natural fertilizers) would have to be trenched into the soil and covered. This would allow for the slow release of the fertilizers into the surrounding soil and prevent the material from being blown away. As years go by - trenches done cris-cross every year - the field would become totally treated. Root system will easily find thier way to food - this is what they do. It would also help in water retention by the soil, as more water would hold in the softer trenched area until it could soak into the adjacent soil.

This as compared to burning that looks like the char gets blown away right away. Also the untreated char will initially deplete the soil of nutriants until the piece is full and then start to give it back.

The charging of the char before intoduction to the field and the collection of ash for the nixtamalization of maize are the main reasons that I feel the off-field production of the char should take place.

Hope these thoughts help in some way.

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