An Excrement Expert’s Manure Manifesto: Gene Logsdon’s ‘Holy Shit’

Manure is not waste product — it’s a valuable resource that’s vital to our food production.
By Colleen Vanderlinden
February/March 2011
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Most Americans tend to avoid thinking about manure. Gene Logsdon wants to change that attitude, and he’s written a manure manifesto that will make even the most excrement-averse reader more appreciative of this valuable end-product of digestion.

In his new book Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind, veteran homesteader Logsdon gives us a crash course in manure management. He starts with a discussion about the benefits of manure and how ineffectively we deal with most of it, and includes chapter-by-chapter discussions of various livestock manures and their value as fertilizer — you’ll be surprised by how much there is to learn!

Did you know pigs can be trained to “go” in one location, and they can assist in turning the manure to aerate it and help break it down? Or that a sheep’s digestive system is so efficient that weed seeds are destroyed in the process? Be it cow manure, horse manure, pet manure or yes, even humanure, Logsdon lays out how to make use of this natural resource more efficiently. After all, he half-jokingly predicts, manure will be “the hottest commodity on the Chicago Board of Trade one of these days.”

The take-home message is this: Manure is a valuable resource, not a waste product. And it’s time we start demanding that it’s treated as such. He argues that we should not be trying to get rid of manure — we should be harvesting it, doing our best to maintain its nutritive value, and using it wisely on our farms and gardens. “It is, in fact, not possible to have the kind of garden farm society that is now developing without comprehensive knowledge about managing manure,” Logsdon writes.

Holy Shit takes the reader on an entertaining journey through the world of manure. Logsdon’s trademark humor and unabashed criticism of factory farming add to the book’s value and make it a fun as well as informative read. Read an excerpt from Holy Shit, and order a copy of your own.

Post a comment below.


6/5/2013 10:49:10 AM


what goes out in your leach field is the liquind. But, sometime your going have to open up your septic tank to pump out the solids. Sooner or later the tank is going to clog up & I don't picture you using that anywhere out on your place.

I can remember back in the old days when the honey dipper would come around in his horse drawn wagon, cleaning out the tanks & the outside crappers. What he did with the stuff was anyones gues.

One time the crew that I worked with, we had to put in a new heating system in a sewage treatment plant for the workers & the piping to keep it from freezing. I learned a lot there about what they did. They would pumpout the solids tank every so often & spray it in a concrete lined field to dry. Then they would scrap it up to take it to the landfill to bury it. The tomatoes plants growing there were huge & had lots of fruit on them. But, you can't use the fruit as human waste has lots of pathogens in it.

Also, it was a long time before we all ate corn after seeing them dig out all the corn that was sitting in the first settling tank, there.

The human body can/t process a lot of things. Seems like tomatoe seeds & corn are 2 of them.

6/3/2013 10:35:16 AM

In Austin TX, a waste treatment facility has been recycling and harvesting human manure for a long time and the city sells it back to the very people that probably flushed it, under the name 'Dillo Dirt'.

I prefer to recycle our chicken manure in our compost and add that to our garden. Our human waste is recycled through our septic tank and filtered through our drainfield into our yard and makes the grass greener.

5/25/2011 11:23:22 AM
'Holy Shit' seems to reiterate the realities I've been reading about in Rose George's 'The Big Necessity', which noted how cheap artificial fertilizer robbed us of the benefits of human waste that Karl Marx had earlier "remarked that London could find no better use for the excretion of four and one-half million human beings than to contaminate the Thames with it at heavy expense." I continue to utilize Mother Earth's model from her January/February 1984 issue rather than contaminate potable water and add to the PCBs, phthalates, dioxins, and other carcinogens that have over-burdened our precious water resources:I suppose that we could go ahead and add cesium, uranium, plutonium ad nasueum.

Jan Steinman
5/25/2011 11:15:05 AM
I highly recommend this practical and entertaining book! We discretely leave a copy next to the toilet, for guests to enjoy while taking a load off. When you're done with Gene's book, check out "The Humanure Handbook," by Joe Jenkins -- a book Gene recommends. We need to stop crapping in our drinking water, and to close the nutrient cycle!

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