Nutrient Recycling

Williams Strawbale House, Frederick, MD

The Benefits of Nutrient Recycling

Currently, nutrients flow from farmland, into food, through humans, into septic systems and sewers, and to bodies of water. These are one-way nutrient flows with no recycling of nutrients, i.e., a broken food chain. One-way nutrient flows cause major problems in agriculture, in homes, in groundwater and bodies of water, and in land use. All of these problems can be solved with nutrient recycling.

In agriculture, and gardens, nutrient recycling builds soil fertility. One-way nutrient flows deplete nutrients in the soil, forcing farmers to use commercial fertilizers that consume large quantities of fossil fuels in their production. Commercial fertilizers have no organic matter in them, so soil quality continues to decline, species diversity declines, leading to increased pesticide use, and a general decline in food quality.

In homes, nutrient recycling allows the use of odor-free, waterless, self-sanitizing, composting toilets. One-way nutrient flows require the use of sewage toilets. The only way to move nutrients (human body products) to a septic system or sewer is to suspend them in water, i.e., make sewage. Sewage toilets waste drinking water and are unsanitary nuisances requiring chemicals to sanitize them and constant vigilance to keep children from contacting and playing in them. See Health Hazards Compared.

In groundwater, nutrient recycling prevents nutrient pollution by not allowing nutrients to go there. One-way nutrient flows from septic systems (mainly in the form of nitrates), go through groundwater and get into wells where they are a known carcinogen and can cause blue baby syndrome. In bodies of water, one-way nutrient flows cause algae blooms, oxygen depletion, a decline in species diversity, and general contamination of the human food chain.

Regarding land use, nutrient recycling allows smaller lot sizes, in-fill growth, and the use of marginal more beautiful, lands. Septic systems dictate that lots have access by a septage hauler, have areas set aside for contamination by sewage in perpetuity, and be of sufficient size to cause some nitrate dilution before the nitrates enter drinking water wells. Minimum ownership requirements for a lot with a septic system (usually 1 acre, but sometimes 3, 5, or 10 acres) combined with sub-soil percolation requirements (direct nitrate pollution), force the loss of farmland to development (the best farmland has the “best” perc rates). These requirements do not eliminate pollution and they do raise the cost of development because of inefficient land use and future liabilities.

Nutrient recycling allows humans to play a constructive role in natural systems, instead of destroying them. With the NutriCycle System, you can “feel good about going!”

Guidlines For Nutrient Recycling

Nutrients Recycled – The end-products, compost and liquid fertilizer, from a properly installed and maintained Clivus Multrum composting toilet system are odor-free and safe-to-handle, have a weak fertilizer value, and should be used in the landscape in accordance with these guidelines. When used in the landscape, nutrients in these end products are recycled to the land-based food chain instead of being wasted or causing pollution as with septic systems and sewers.

Owner’s Requirements Before Using Clivus End Products: Owner must verify that installation, operation, and maintenance, was performed in accordance with the Clivus Multrum Installation, and Maintenance Manuals, or performed by an authorized contractor.

Clivus Compost – usually 1 or 2 bushels per composter per year after the first five years of operation; remove with a shovel:

  1. Haul by bucket, wheelbarrow, wagon, or truck to the use site;
  2. Spread around ornamental vegetation, or rake into the lawn, or till into garden or field;
  3. Do NOT apply thick as you would a mulch because salt burning may result; for top dressing do not exceed a one-half inch thick layer; for incorporating into the top 6 inches of soil do not exceed a one inch thick layer.
  4. As with any fertilizer or organic matter, do NOT ingest Clivus compost and wash contacted areas when done.

Clivus Liquid Fertilizer – estimate 300 gallons per composter per year with at least 3 months storage capacity; remove by pump:

  1. Spreading techniques include:
    1. By garden hose with coarse, non-misting nozzle
    2. By non-clogging, non-misting sprinkler, moved occasionally as needed
    3. By drip line or coarse spray from a tank wagon or truck
    4. By injection into an irrigation system
  1. Must be applied over the root zone of any vegetation.
  2. The application rate that assures complete nitrogen uptake for native grasses (or lawn) is 1 gallon per 4 square feet per year (1,200 square feet, or 30 feet by 40 feet, for 300 gallons).
  3. Heavier loading rates are possible on vegetation known to absorb more nitrogen (see the local Nutrient Management Consultant, Agricultural Extension Service; the N-P-K fertilizer value is less than 1-1-1).
  4. Several light applications to the same area per year are usually necessary to avoid run-off.
  5. Do NOT fertilize: over bare soil (no root zone); when soil is saturated or frozen (to avoid run-off); within 5 feet of bodies of water, wells or property lines; any edible vegetation within two weeks of harvest.
  6. As with any fertilizer, do NOT ingest Clivus Liquid Fertilizer and wash contacted areas when done.
  7. Do NOT allow other humans or pets to contact Clivus Liquid Fertilizer or the application area until after the vegetation is dry.
  8. The Maryland Department of the Environment, Groundwater Discharge Permit for the use of Clivus Liquid Fertilizer, currently required for all sites in Maryland, may impose additional conditions.
  9. Specify storage tanks, valves, fittings, hoses, hose reels, etc., as needed.

Spreading Methods

Clivus Liquid Fertilizer is spread by:

Impulse Sprayer
(garden cover crop, Lewis Mill, Jefferson, MD)

Bumper Drip Line
(lawn, Sugarloaf Citizens Association, Dickerson, MD)

(garden crop, Lewis Mill, Jefferson, MD)

Tank Wagon
(corn crop, Bar-T Mountainside Camp, Urbana, MD)

(chestnut plantation, ThorpeWood, Thurmont, MD)

Clivus Compost is removed by shovel and transported by:

(ThorpeWood, Thurmont, MD)
(I-270 Truck Weigh Station, Clarksburg, MD)

(White Plains Post Office, White Plains, MD)

Compost is used by:

Raking into the lawn
(Frederick Golf Club, Frederick, MD)

Side dressing ornamental vegetation
(Lilypons Water Gardens, Lilypons, MD)

Compost can also be tilled into crop soil or spread in the woods. All applications of Clivus Liquid Fertilizer and Clivus Compost are over a root zone so that the nutrients are used instead of being wasted or causing pollution. See Benefits of Nutrient Recycling.

For more details on spreading methods, see See Guidelines For Nutrient Recycling above.