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close this bookAmaranth to Zai Holes, Ideas for Growing Food under Difficult Conditions (ECHO; 1996; 397 pages)
View the documentOther ECHO publications
View the documentAbout this book
View the documentAcknowledgements
Open this folder and view contents1: Basics of agricultural development
Open this folder and view contents2: Vegetables and small fruits in the tropics
Open this folder and view contents3: Staple crops
Open this folder and view contents4: Multipurpose trees
Open this folder and view contents5: Farming systems and gardening techniques
Open this folder and view contents6: Soil health and plant nutrition
Open this folder and view contents7: Water resources
Open this folder and view contents8: Plant protection and pest control
Open this folder and view contents9: Domestic animals
Open this folder and view contents10: Food science
Open this folder and view contents11: Human health care
Open this folder and view contents12: Seeds and germplasm
Open this folder and view contents13: Energy and technologies
Open this folder and view contents14: From farm to market
Open this folder and view contents15: Training and missionary resources
Open this folder and view contents16: Oils
Open this folder and view contents17: Above-ground (urban) gardens
View the document18: What is ECHO?
View the documentAdditional ECHO publications
Open this folder and view contentsECHO development notes - issue 52
close this folderECHO development notes: issue 53
View the documentFifty-one issues of edn in one book!
View the documentPosition announcement.
View the documentThe nutritive value of chaya, one of the most productive green vegetables
View the documentSolar water disinfection
View the document"Why don't my tomatoes set fruit?"
View the documentInsights from a biogas project.
View the documentMalnutrition and child mortality
View the documentList of distance learning courses is available from ECHO.
View the documentFrom ECHO's seedbank
View the documentEchoes from our network
View the documentUpcoming events
View the documentBooks and other resources
Open this folder and view contents28 additional technical notes about tropical agriculture
Open this folder and view contentsPrinciples of agroforestry
Open this folder and view contentsGood nutrition on the small farm

Insights from a biogas project.

Technical information is often much easier to obtain than perspective on its use. Rus Alit's discussion on biogas digesters in his newsletter Appropriate Technology (vol. 6, 1995) shows the value of perspective.

Biogas is produced by placing a slurry of animal manure in a closed container. Gas bubbles to the surface and is collected for cooking or lighting. Excess water, rich in nutrients released from the decaying manure, is directed towards gardens or fish ponds. It sounds wonderful-so why do we not see these inexpensive units everywhere?

Rus faced two problems in his village in Indonesia: lack of fuel for lighting and loose pigs that destroyed gardens and spread disease. "Obtaining methane gas is usually the main attraction ... unfortunately [in most cases] there is not enough manure to run the system...." Rus says that to get enough gas for cooking and lighting for a family, we need one cow or buffalo or two mature pigs PER PERSON. So a family of five would need 10 pigs or five cows. What about using human manure? "Don't put your hope on generating much out of human excreta. It doesn't produce much gas. I ran a unit using the product of 20 orphanage children, and the gas produced hardly matches the production of gas from a couple pigs." He feels that the primary value is in using the effluent as fertilizer. [Ed: I question whether there is a linear relation between people and required manure. Surely adding one family member does not put that much more demand on the rice pot or lighting system.]

The inexpensive $70 design had a fatal flaw when a key component rusted out. But his project succeeded at his second goal. People had to fence in their pigs to collect the valuable manure. The roaming pig problem is now history. No more are the neighbors fighting each other over damage caused by the others' pigs. "Even though biogas is not operating anymore, the pig fences are there to stay." Fungal infections caused by scattered pig manure are virtually gone and tapeworms are curbed.

His newsletter, published by World Vision Australia, is available free to development workers. Each 4-page issue deals with one subject. Write Rus at 7 Bonython St., Rochedale, 4123 AUSTRALIA. Return to Index.

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