New anthroponics trial

Recently a bachelor student of Physical Geography will be doing her thesis in anthroponics and I will be supervising her thesis. For this reason, we will be redoing the trial with wood ash and cucumbers to confirm the initial results we obtained. Since her thesis will be written in swedish, I will write a technical report in english as well. For now, we have just placed the seedlings:


This time, we have brought the pH down to the 5,5 – 6,5 range suited for cucumbers before placing the seedlings, to prevent any shock to the plant. In the last trial (10/01/16 – 29/03/16), before removing the best performing cucumber after 79 days (from system 3, which had 72g of wood ash), I also conducted a general chemical test to the assess the water quality. Here you can see the overall size of the cucumber and some of the deficiencies. Total length was about 140cm, though there were several branches.

IMG_20160322_175015 IMG_20160329_175555 IMG_20160329_181511 IMG_20160330_182932

Based on some observations of interveinal chlorosis in the leaves and 0,00mg/L of Fe in water, it was obvious the plant had an iron deficiency. The concentration of phosphorus was also below the recommended level, though there were no clear signs of deficiency. There seemed to be some potential signs of sulfur deficiency given that upper leaves remained small, curled downwards and with serrated margins, but I do not have the reagents or the resources to test sulfur.

With this new trial, besides our own limited chemical analysis, we hope to get the support of her university to do some more depth tests, such as tissue analysis of the leaves, and water quality by the university laboratory. However, it seems the tests are very expensive and even the university cannot afford to do all the ones that we wanted. A lack of proper laboratory analysis of anthroponics systems seems to be a recurring theme given that there is still very little academic interest in the topic at the moment.

Regardless, our first water quality analysis before adding the seedlings seems to indicate an abundance of all macro and micronutrients with the notable exception of Iron, which had 0,00mg/L in all three systems. Like aquaponics systems, Iron is a common micronutrient that is lacking and must be supplemented. It seems after we have ran this trial that the next focus will be to find a way to supplement Iron in a sustainable way, and possibly any other nutrients we may find lacking.

Anthroponics vision of urban farming

I am currently working with a Swedish NGO to develop a compact and portable anthroponics module that condenses the essential processes and allows an urban farmer to retrieve from it an organic nutrient solution for hydroponic use. The goal will be to achieve external funding to set up a pilot system and test everything to a bigger scale, since we can confirm it works at a worker scale.



Third anthroponic trial

Our third anthroponic experiment is underway and we are already starting to see some differences in the control cucumber! One downside of having added the wood ash (and even without) is that the pH has been quite high (above 7,00 for control and above 10,00 for system 2 and 3). As such, I have added “pH down” (also known as phosphoric acid) in different amounts and gradually over 2-3 weeks to bring the pH levels below 7,00 in all systems. Some of the older leaves in the plants in system 2 and 3 show the initial struggle with the high pH, but now that it’s more stabilized we can see the system where wood ash was not added is struggling with some form of nutrient deficiency.


As usual, expect a full report at the end of this experiment.

Full report: Lactuca sativa production in an anthroponics system

Below follows the full report on Hemmaodlat’s first experiment with anthroponics. Our initial objective of testing different urine dosages was not achieved as the urine added for cycling was enough to grow all the lettuce seedlings until harvest. Thus a new experiment will be conducted with a different crop and different urine dosages.

Direct link to document here.


Types of Anthroponics Systems

Like aquaponic and hydroponic systems, anthroponic systems can be made of different system components. The most common ones in aquaponics include Media Bed systems, Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) systems, Deep Water Culture(DWC) or Raft systems and hybrids containing two or more of these types. Unlike aquaponic systems however, anthroponic systems can be further broken down into two main systems:

  • urine-based anthroponics systems (u-anthroponics) and 
  • feces-based anthroponics systems (f-anthroponics).

While it may be possible for future anthroponic systems to combine both urine and feces in the same system, currently such system has not been devised.

Current constructed and idealized anthroponic systems are very similar in most of the system components to aquaponic systems, making them easy to understand by those knowledgeable of aquaponic systems.

Let’s start with analyzing a simplified diagram of a u-anthroponics system. Inputs are colored in yellow, the main system with recirculating water in a soilless environment is colored blue, and the output is colored green (click to zoom).


U-Anthroponic system overview

Unlike aquaponics, the main nutrient is human urine, which must be placed in a sealed container and aged until it is safe for used. The aged urine is then placed in the water reservoir or sump tank of the system, where the pump is located (remember, there is no fish tank in this system as there are no fish). The urine is diluted and converted into nutrient rich water after passing through the biofilter, where nitrifying bacteria convert the urine to plant fertilizer. The water is then recirculated over and over again, feeding the growing components of the system and allowing for plant growth, coupled with light.

F-anthroponics, to the best of my knowledge, have never been constructed or tested in real life. As I have envisioned them and discussed them in a r/anthroponics thread, they resemble aquaponic systems more since they incorporate fish and a relatively common fish food source: Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL).You can see a f-anthroponics simplified diagram below. Again, inputs are colored in yellow, the main system with recirculating water in a soilless environment is colored blue, and the output is colored green (click to zoom).




F-Anthroponic system overview

Here, the feces are eaten by Black Soldier Fly Larvae which are frozen to kill any potential pathogens and then fed to the fish, with the following cycle resembling the well-known aquaponics nitrogen cycle.

In theory, this type of f-anthroponics should work. One major downside of using feces as a nutrient source is their handling, as they have a very uncomfortable smell and require strict safety measures. I believe the design of a system that minimizes direct human contact with feces and the harvested BSFL will be crucial in turning this type of anthroponics system into a viable and serious alternative.