Human Urine As a Nitrogen Fertilizer

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Human Urine As a Nitrogen Fertilizer
Urine is rich in nitrogen and can help fertilise crops. (herb garden image by Steve Lovegrove from Fotolia.com)

Human urine is a cheap and effective alternative to traditional fertilisers for nitrogen fertilisation. Urine is nitrogen-rich, safe and sterile for direct use on crops and plants.

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History

For centuries, human urine has been used as an organic fertiliser, according to ScienceDaily. The organic farming movement is calling more attention to human urine as a nitrogen fertiliser, which has been tested as an alternative to synthetic fertilisers.

Considerations

Human urine contains no bacteria or viruses and is essentially sterile. It is a natural source of nitrogen and other nutrients that can benefit plants.

Potential

The addition of human urine as a fertiliser is a simple and natural process. Urine may be diverted from home toilets directly to plants, saved in receptacles or mixed with other organic material such as ash for a more productive fertiliser, according to research by Surendra Pradhan, an environmental scientist at University of Kuopio in Finland.

Misconceptions

Urine, while generally thought of as a human waste product, actually serves a resource for gardens and farms when appropriately harvested. Urine has been proven as more effective than traditional fertiliser in the growth of cabbage, according to a Finnish study reported in ScienceDaily.

Warning

Byproducts from the human diet may appear in plants fertilised with human urine. According to research cited by National Geographic, pharmaceutical drugs passed in the urine could become absorbed by plants or promote antibiotic resistance in local bacteria. However, study author and environmental scientist Surendra Pradhan notes "in small scales in a single family, the pharmaceutical residue present in urine is very low and it can be acceptable."

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