Urine, a recyclable fertilizer waste

Using urine instead of chemical fertilizers, as it did 150 years ago, would improve water and soil quality, as well as save energy and raw materials.

Urine, a recyclable fertilizer waste

Some countries have already put this kind of fertilizer on the market, notably Switzerland and the Scandinavian countries, by valuing urine and reintroducing it into the carbon cycle, it is the virtuous circle of a circular economy that is being started.

However, in many countries in the world, urine is only pure waste-especially in developing countries, they have no energy to deal with this work.

Let’s see what benefits there would be in using urine as fertilizer.

The supply of essential nutrients

Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are 3 nutrients that are essential for healthy soils and present in the urine.

Currently, nitrogen used in agriculture is provided by synthetic fertilizers and phosphorus and potassium from mining deposits. In addition, phosphorus from phosphates, a non-renewable material, is starting to run out due to the massive exploitation of its deposits.

Reduced water and energy consumption

On average, between 27 and 36 liters of drinking water is wasted per day per capita through flushing, which accounts for almost 30% of our water consumption.

Energy is then deployed to filter and clean this wastewater, which is then discharged and contributes to the pollution of aquatic environments by providing an excess of organic matter favoring algae while decreasing oxygen.

The amount of urine an individual has an annual discharge would be sufficient to fertilize 300-400 m2 of crops at a level similar to that of the nitrogen fertilizers used today.

Is it dangerous for your health?

At the microbiological level, urine does not pose the same infectious problems as feces. However, there are still drug residues, pesticides, salt in the urine that we consume in excess and that the body eliminates through it.

According to the Stockholm Environment Institute, the health risks associated with the use of human urine for agricultural production are generally low when there is little or no fecal cross-contamination.

Technologically, the solution for recovering urine for use in the field could be through the use of urine-diverting toilets, already in use in some European countries. And processes for filtering drug residues and removing ammonia odor already exist.

At the individual level, using urine for your garden is already possible. Most experts recommend diluting urine 1 liter to 10 liters of water, storing urine in a closed container with a little vinegar to avoid odors.

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