A Short History of Manure

A Short History of Manure

Edited by David Barth, October 1, 2008.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, everything had to be transported by ship. Commercial fertilizer had not been invented, necessitating shipments of manure to locations of crops that needed it.

Manure was shipped dry, because dry manure weighed a lot less than when wet. When it was shipped in the hold of a ship, if the hull leaked, when water reached it, the manure not only became heavier, but the process of fermentation began again, of which a by product is methane gas. Methane gas began to build up below decks and the first time someone went below decks at night with a lantern, BOOOOM!

Several ships were destroyed in this manner before it was determined just what was causing them to blow up.

After that, the bundles of manure were always stamped with the term 'Ship High In Transit' on them, which meant for the sailors to stow it high enough off the lower decks so that any water that came into the hold would not touch this volatile cargo and start the production of methane.

Thus evolved the term "S.H.I.T" (Ship High In Transit) which has come down through the centuries and is in use to this very day.