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Pictures of nightsoil use in China
Taken by Erle Ellis, for research purposes, in The Tai Lake Region, 1994-1996

woodblock print

Nightsoil in paddy fields, 1600s: A Qing Dynasty woodblock print of nightsoil topdress fertilizer in paddy rice.


Nightsoil application to vegetable crops, 1900s: Traditional use of nightsoil on vegetable crops.
nightsoil on vegetables
Using nightsoil on garlic: Applying nightsoil to household garlic plot in Zhangqing Village, 1994.
nightsoil on garlic
Outside nightsoil tank: External storage tank full of nightsoil and buckets ready for application to nearby vegetable plots in Xiejia Village, 1994.
Traditional outside toilet: A traditional outside toilet with manure storage tank below (Xiejia Village).
outside toilet
Traditional household nightsoil bucket and contemporary flush toilet: Two methods of human manure use. In 1994, there were very few flush toilets in Xiejia Village, but their number is increasing rapidly. Though flush toilets are required to store manure for use, some drain directly or indirectly to canals.
contemporary toilet
Nightsoil applied to experimental paddy plots, 1994: Application of nightsoil fertilizer in traditional fertilizer experimental plots in Xiejia Village.
paddy experiment