New use for human hair

Dec 29, 2008

Agricultural crop production relies on composted waste materials and byproducts, such as animal manure, municipal solid waste composts, and sewage sludge, as a necessary nutrient source. Studies have shown that human hair, a readily available waste generated from barbershops and hair salons, combined with additional compost, is an additional nutrient source for crops. Although human hair has become commercially available to crop producers in the past couple years, it has not been proven to be an exclusive source of nutrients in greenhouse container production.

Vlatcho D. Zheljazkov, Juan L. Silva, Mandar Patel, Jelena Stojanovic, Youkai. Lu, Taejo Kim, and Thomas Horgan of Mississippi State University recently published a research study in HortTechnology designed to determine whether commercially available noncomposted hair waste cubes would support plant growth in horticulture crops as a sole source of nutrients.

The study compared the productivity of four crops: lettuce, wormwood, yellow poppy, and feverfew, grown in commercial growth medium using untreated control, noncomposted hair cubes at differing weights, a controlled-release fertilizer and a water-soluble fertilizer. Results showed that, with the addition of hair waste cubes, yields increased relative to the untreated control but were lower than yields in the inorganic treatments, suggesting that hair waste should not be used as a single source for fast-growing plants such as lettuce.

Zheljazkov suggests that, "once the degradation and mineralization of hair waste starts, it can provide sufficient nutrients to container-grown plants and ensure similar yields to those obtained with the commonly used fertilizers in horticulture. However, it takes time for the hair to start degrading and releasing nutrients, as is reflected in lower yields in the hair treatments relative to the inorganic fertilizers for lettuce and wormwood."

Because of possible health concerns, further research is necessary to determine whether human hair waste is a viable option as fertilizer for edible crops.

The complete study and abstract are available on the ASHS HortTechnology electronic journal web site: horttech.ashspublications.org/… nt/abstract/18/4/592 .

Source: American Society for Horticultural Science

Explore further: Art of Science 2014: Princeton launches online galleries of prize-winning images and video

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New planthopper species found in southern Spain

1 hour ago

Not much is known about the the genus of planthopper known as Conosimus, which now includes six species after a new one was recently discovered in the southern part of the Iberian Peninsula in the Spanish ...

Ex-Qualcomm exec pleads guilty to insider trading

9 hours ago

A former high-ranking executive of US computer chip giant Qualcomm pleaded guilty Monday to insider trading charges, including trades on a 2011 deal for Atheros Communications, officials said.

Media venture creates press litigation fund

9 hours ago

The media venture created by entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar said Monday it was establishing a fund to help defend journalists in cases involving freedom of the press.

Recommended for you

How to win a Tour de France sprint

Jul 22, 2014

The final dash to the line in a Tour de France sprint finish may appear to the bystander to be a mess of bodies trying to cram into the width of a road, but there is a high degree of strategy involved. It ...

Bible museum planned for US capital

Jul 18, 2014

The devout Christian family that upended a part of President Barack Obama's health care law aims to open a Bible museum in Washington in 2017, a spokesperson for the project said Friday.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Sylvi
not rated yet Dec 29, 2008
Very valuable information on the articale