Posts Tagged ‘manure


E. Coli: Lessons for the Home

The E. Coli outbreaks that have become so prevalent overseas lately are enough to make one’s spinach wilt at the mere thought. It does soldify in my mind one simple lesson for the home gardener :

NEVER put fresh manure on your vegetable garden. ALWAYS make sure it is composted well, for at least 6 months, with lashings of lime.

Also foragers beware. With the amount of fecal matter escaping from this country’s bovine masses, cooking the greens you source from riverbanks might be a mighty clever idea. The CDC says E. coli in spinach can be killed by cooking at 70°C for 15 seconds. (Water boils at 100°C.)


Something smells bad

I like cows. I enjoy a nice piece of steak every so often, consider cheese not only a separate food group but a necessity for life and think cream is floaty. I’m also thankful for some of the manure that graces my compost pile, invigorating my soil microbes. But what the hell is this country going to do with the effluent produced by 4.4 million dairy cows?

I was thinking how gross that was when it suddenly struck me, “Hold up a minute, that’s only milking cows!” Add another third on for my rough estimate of total dairy herd – 6 million. Now add say 5 million beef cattle. Ta da! That’s 11 million very large bovine eating machines. That’s a lot of grass. That’s a hell of a lot of poo – a cow produces around 11 tonnes of it a year. That’s about 121 million tonnes of cow manure produced every year in New Zealand. (This is my own rough estimation. Not all cows poop the same).

121 million tonnes, let’s reflect on that for a minute…

Global sugar production each year

– Weighs the same as 121 million 1990 Honda Civics

– 121 x more grain than is produced in NZ each year

I’ve been told that cows produce two-thirds more manure than is required to fertilise and replenish it’s food supply. So it’s understandable why we have such problems with runoff issues in this country. Add to this no natural native excrement-dwellers to go to work and help break this shit down. Thank goodness the mighty dung beetle army is on it’s way to help remediate. Because left to decompose, manure is a powerful emitter of greenhouse gas emissions.

The smart solution may be the better management of effluent collection for use as fertiliser and put a lot of it through a biodigester for power generation. Surely NZ could be powered by wind, solar and poo power?

According to the University of Alberta, Canada around 7,500 cattle can produce 1 megawatt (MW) of electricity (1MW can power the average home in the developed world), according to the University of Alberta, Canada. The university also says it would take all of the manure of 6 million cows to fulfill the needs of 1 million homes — or about six cows per home.

There! Energy problems solved.

For more info please read Cow power: the energy and emissions benefits of converting manure to biogas


How to save the world with cow dung

NZOnScreen has put up the trailer and an excerpt of the must-see Peter Proctor documentary One Man, One Cow, One Planet.

This film looks at biodynamic agriculture, a Rudolph Steiner-inspired system of organic farming. The film focuses on proponent Peter Proctor, a worm-obsessed Kiwi gardener; and his work promoting biodynamics worldwide, particularly in India, where he argues that modern industrial agriculture (eg. artificial chemicals, GM seeds) has made soil and plants toxic, and farming unsustainable. Proctor’s simple recipe to save the planet? One man and a bucket of cow dung. Narrated by E.T. actor Peter Coyote, One Man screened worldwide at environmental film festivals.

Buy the DVD here.

More resources and info here.


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July 2019
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