Human urine as a safe, inexpensive fertilizer for food crops

Oct 08, 2007
Fertilized Cabbage
These cabbage plants were fertilized using human urine. Credit: Courtesy of Helvi Heinonen-Tanski, University of Kuopio, Finland

Researchers in Finland are reporting successful use of an unlikely fertilizer for farm fields that is inexpensive, abundantly available, and undeniably organic -- human urine. Their report on use of urine to fertilize cabbage crops is scheduled for the Oct. 31 issue of ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Despite the 'yuk!' factor, urine from healthy individuals is virtually sterile, free of bacteria or viruses. Naturally rich in nitrogen and other nutrients, urine has been used as fertilizer since ancient times. Urine fertilization is rare today. However, it has gained attention in some areas as farmers embrace organic production methods and try to reduce use of synthetic fertilizers.

In the new study, Surendra K. Pradhan and colleagues collected human urine from private homes and used it to fertilize cabbage crops. Then they compared the urine-fertilized crops with those grown with conventional industrial fertilizer and no fertilizer.

The analysis showed that growth and biomass were slightly higher with urine than with conventional fertilizer. There was no difference in nutritional value of the cabbage. "Our results show that human urine could be used as a fertilizer for cabbage and does not pose any significant hygienic threats or leave any distinctive flavor in food products," the report concludes.

Source: ACS

Explore further: Ionic liquids open door to better rare-earth materials processing

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Toxic algae blooms cause illness, death in dogs

Nov 05, 2014

Dogs are known to play, swim and lap up water in lakes and ponds, but these simple joys can lead to illness and even fatal poisoning when harmful algae blooms muck up the water.

Tilapias use urine to attract females

Oct 27, 2014

How many of us have seen, much to its owner consternation, a misguided pet urinating at the corner of a room marking its territory to repel rivals and attract females? Well, apparently fish do the same.

Pee on the pods

Aug 07, 2014

Urine could be successfully recycled to fertilise crops according to University of Sydney civil engineering researchers who have examined the effectiveness of reusing nutrients from the human waste.

Recommended for you

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Nemo
3.3 / 5 (3) Oct 08, 2007
What about things like birth control hormones and antibiotics and other drugs? If those things can be found in lakes and rivers after huge dilution direct treatment must lead to a much greater presentation on the plants.
Doug_Huffman
1 / 5 (1) Oct 09, 2007
Risk/benefit ratio affected by presence of human drug/metabolites?
AllHeart
not rated yet Oct 13, 2007
We have used stale urine (few days old in container) as effective weed killer. Also nitrogen excellent for base of lemon trees (the odd serepticous urination does them the world of good)But I think urine actually has limitations as fertiliser - too acidic/ammonia but uric acid helps earth retain moisture.
black_arachknight
not rated yet Nov 08, 2007
Human urine must be diluted at 15 or 20 to 1 with water for fertilizer. Since it has been stated that Americans have some of the most expensive urine as far as use of vitamins and other supplements, fertilizer may be a great way yo go.There are many cities around the world that are using both liquid and solid human waste as fertilizer once it has been treated. I would think that someone using their own urine would know whether or not they were using harmful drugs.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.