Manure and dealing with garbage
(I deleted several postings, and so I'm trying to re-write several of them in order to provide you with that information again.)
Animal manure is a resource when living in a rural environment. Animal fecal matter has traditionally been harvest to compost into farmland or gardens. It enriches the soil by adding back in the Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potash that are the chief soil additives that are needed. These are typically added in the autumn after the harvest, and helped by the lack of soil disturbance plus the overwintering process. The manure naturally is washed by the action of Autumn rains, the snow of Winter, and the subsequent Spring rains.
The typical manure spread is either rabbit, horse, or cow. Pig feces can “cook” very hot and it can actually start a spontaneous combustion fire.
If cows are present, then there's usually an abundance of cow manure, so much so that it needs to be dealt with. If not, then it can run off into local lakes and streams. Pig often live in very congested unnatural corporate farms; chickens do as well. All must be managed in order to protect drinking wells. You sure don't want high bacteria counts in either the animals drinking water, nor the humans who live nearby.
Cow manure is ideal as a renewable fuel source for burning as heat. If overwintered, it burns clean with low ashes and with high BTUs produced. Often other plant waste products are added to the cow patties in 3rd world nations in order to create a common size of burning, plus usefully burn waste material that can't be composted as easily. However, there's a big potential for introducing anaerobic bacteria into microcracks in the skin, so it's not recommended.
Rabbit manure is ideal as a composted manure in the garden. Since rabbits are one of the easiest to raise, sometimes worm beds are designed to help compost their manure beneath their beds. Then you have good creatures to add into your soil as well as fishing bait.
Human waste is another issue entirely. Typically urine is separated from solid waste. I've previously written on saving human urine for inexpensively improving your garden, but only after chemically testing the soil to see what is needed. You could accidentally change the pH or add too much of certain soil amenities by accident.
Over time you'll see a natural reduction in soil levels based upon which plants are being raised. Some plants like peanuts improve the soil. Other plants like tobacco are heavy feeders and so you cannot simply add the same amount of fertilizer without testing.
Human feces are a major disease vector. Probably the safest way of dealing with them is to convert some of it to biogas digestion and therefore create methane. This must be carefully done as that's a combustible fuel. That's the idea, because if you have methane, you can use it to power a generator as a fuel source, or you can burn it as a cooking fuel. This is a far safer way of getting rid of toxic waste than mere composting.
However pre-collapse there are high concentrations of people but no agriculture. That means that some composting of human feces will inevitably occur as a soil additive. This means that composting toilets must be part of a community project. It's expensive to build individual outdoor toilets for a single family x the number of people living in a community. It's also a sanitation nightmare to create all of these and then maintain them (or probably not maintain them and deal with leaking septic systems).
Usually two things must carefully be managed: burial space and garbage space. Doing so will ensure less health risk, cleaner water, and better organization. Centralizing these areas ensures that people use them.
In any event, biosand filters are used on the well water regardless. Since you won't be able to test for coliform bacteria, you must filter your well water to remove 97% of them, and therefore reduce the major risks of dysentery and cholera besides lots of rarer issues.
Without organization, stench is created and rats and high insect populations. These are major considerations to cope with in order to also prevent ancillary effects of improper sanitation plus disease vectors on their own. The higher the concentration of a population, the lower the carrying capacity. Most likely populations higher than 500 cannot live within an area without seeing very negative effects.
Wherever the burial or garbage space is located, it will drain somewhere. That means unless you want the next community over to end up at war with you over your runoff, then you'd better plan well. Since you'll inevitably trade with them, it's in your best interest to minimize the negative effect on the landscape at large.
Here is a link to several composting toilet plans. I found better ones before, one that specifically noted to produce the best digestion of solid waster, plus safety, plus less insect issues, plus better smell, plus diversion of urine. I'll continue to look for it.
[link to www.pacificwater.org
Here's links to Tom Culhane's work on biogas/power generation/composting/a whole lot of practical knowledge on field studies in places like Peru and India where he's set up working models. Real world application is worth 10 times theoretical studies.
[link to www.youtube.com (secure)
Mr. Culhane's politics are diametrically opposed to my own, but regardless he's a brilliant man and a humanitarian too.
Much of what we consider garbage is NOT garbage in a post-collapse. In that case, glass, paper, plastic, and metal will be recycled.
Food scraps can mostly be composted for gardening. To increase the speed of composting, using a garbage disposal powered briefly from a solar backup generator will chop it up minutely to spread the surface area for bacteria to digest. Having lots of compost piles may not be beneficial for water runoff.