When I moved here in 2012, it was a delight to be surrounded by countryside after a life in central London. Just across the road at the end of the street was a large open-style pig farm, with the pigs living in little huts spread around huge fields. At the other end of the road were farms growing Oil Seed Rape, and other crops. We soon got used to being held up behind tractors, and combine harvesters in season.

One thing we didn’t really get used to was the smell of fertiliser, when the weather was warm, and the wind in a certain direction. As it seemed to originate close to the nearby town of Dereham to the south of Beetley, we nicknamed this ‘The Dereham Pong’. Presuming it was conventional manure, and obviously the chance that it was commercial fertiliser instead, it became something to tolerate for a while, as the recently harvested fields were fertilised and turned over ready for the next sowing season. Not being country people, we often found it all quite amusing, as we had to quickly close the windows when it got really ‘bad’.

Imagine our surpise when the farm-worker husband of one of Julie’s work colleagues told us it was human waste being spread on the fields.
It even had a name, ‘Humanure’.

Small wonder the smell is so bad.

75 thoughts on “Humanure

  1. Humanure should be composted to be used safely. If it’s composted properly it becomes totally safe and doesn’t smell at all. I’ve seen some great small scale humanure systems that were amazingly well managed and never smelled.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That is terrible. I seriously doubt it is a thing over here, otherwise the press and environmental activists would be up in arms. But then again, what lays on the farm stays on the farm?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We have the delights of the cattle manure next to us, it usually isn’t too bad and given I’m in the garden a lot I am pretty immune to it. Not so much the OH. I’m glad it’s not pigs though as I find their smell particularly stinky.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. There is an inherent dichotomy in the thought of spreading human waste on arable fields: I presume most of us would like to think of it being put to a good [aka profitable] use, given that there is never likely to be any shortage of it, with the obvious implications for disposal ‘going forwards’ πŸ˜‰ ; the other side of it is the ‘nimby’ [not in my backyard] attitude, and I don’t mean to be judgmental, because I think that is an entirely understandable response, because of the obvious sensory assault!

    I’m no connoisseur of manure odours [are there any?], so I think it might be the psychological association of the source of the ‘humanure’ that prejudices our perception of it; again, entirely understandable; but having said that, I would not be the first to welcome such a development in my area!

    I think one of your earlier respondents hit the nail on the head about how this product could be treated to reduce the objectionable odour: I fear this is just another instance of corner-cutting to save money and, to put it bluntly, sod the consequences! Cheers, Jon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I expected countryside smells when I moved here, Jon, so it’s not a NIMBY thing. I just didn’t expect the local fields to smell like the latrines in a Napoleonic era military camp. πŸ™‚
      Luckily, it’s only for a few days each year.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. What a lovely odor……One of our public golf course winds its way around and through the city sewage treatment plant…..and a wind shit and the whole area smells like an outhouse……be safe…..chuq

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The sewage plants here don’t smell that bad at all. It’s when they use it on the fields it becomes unpleasant. It doesnt last for long, fortunately.
      Best wishes, Pete.


  6. My wife and I agree about 95% of things, but your post made me think of one of our differences. She is a farm girl and spent a considerable amount of time being around farm animals. There are times when we’re back visiting, and she will inhale deeply and say, “I love that smell.” She is referring to manure.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Well I never thought I would see the day when Humanure was the title of one of your posts. Could it be that Pete has seen the light and moved to a dry toilet system in order to preserve the worlds dwindling water supply, or perhaps become concerned about the damage that is done to the environment by the chemicals used to keep the porcelain pristine, or maybe Pete is planning to become a keen gardener and has read about the bountiful crops that we produce here using our own humanure?
    No its a post about ‘shit stinks’ πŸ™‚
    Its is a shame they don’t compost the manure first as that would stop it from smelling, mixed with straw or other crop waste, piled up for three or four months and it would become rich humus, free of pathogens or most importantly, to the sensitive noses of city folk, odourless πŸ™‚
    If they only plant rapeseed then it may well be used in biofuel, so no need to worry about pathogens entering the food chain, or it could well be that the nightsoil is sludge from a sewage treatment plant, in which case it should already be benign.
    Happy sniffing πŸ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

  8. It’s interesting that you didn’t find the proximity of the pig farm as distasteful as the humanure spreading process. Complaints about smells seem to be a by-product of residential developments in farming areas.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. 🀣🀣🀣Quite an unconventional source of fertilizer, however I fail to see why it can’t be used to grow crops for human consumption. Are we saying human waste is more ‘distasteful’ than animal? 🀣🀣🀣

    Liked by 1 person

  10. (1) “We soon got used to being held up behind tractors, and combine harvesters in season.” Well, at least the robbers are predictable. Still, if you insist on being outside in season, you can at least protect your wallet by avoiding walking behind tractors and combine harvesters where the robbers are lurking.
    (2) Isn’t it about time that Oil Seed join the #MeToo movement?
    (3) Huma Abedin used to hang out with Hillary a lot. So it’s a fact that Huma knew her.
    (4) Dereham also shows up on ship’s radar. It’s called “The Dereham Ping.”
    (5) The pigs have been complaining about the smell of humanure for many years.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Lucky for us, there’s no fertilizing around here. And the smell of manure is only strong in/around some towns in the Panhandle of Texas, where the cattle feedyards are. I just found that the “Guardian” as recently as on March 7 had an article about it []. I always think of the town of Hereford there as “the town that smells as it sounds.”

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I keep hearing about compost toilets (in programmes about mini houses and ecological buildings) but I haven’t heard them discuss what happens later. I guess in many places it cannot be used for crops for human consumption, although it might depend on how the compost is processed. Not a nice thought, but it makes sense at some level…
    There was a farm behind the house where I lived, and we had some interesting smells as well every so often, but I never thought to ask where the compost came from, Pete. What a thought!

    Liked by 2 people

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