from the better-pea-yield dept.
Humans have known for thousands of years that their urine is an excellent fertilizer for crops. It contains phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium—many of the same ingredients as commercial fertilizers. But because of the squeamishness associated with using urine to grow crops, its use has been limited. [...]
The first step in the experiment involved renaming urine because its common name was considered offensive. They settled on Oga. Next, they separated the farmers into two groups; one ran their farms in the traditional way, the other fertilized their wheat using Oga. Over two growing seasons, crop yields were measured for both groups. The Oga for the second group of 27 farmers was provided by the farmers themselves, who were taught how to pasteurize, store and dilute their urine for use as fertilizer. They also added small amounts of animal manure.
The data collected from the farms showed that those that had been fertilized using Oga produced on average 30% more grain than the traditional farms. The researchers note that the differences were so great that other women in the region began emulating those in the experiment. Two years after the experiment, they found that more than a thousand women farmers were using Oga to fertilize their crops.
Moussa, Hannatou O., Nwankwo, Charles I., Aminou, Ali M., et al. Sanitized human urine (Oga) as a fertilizer auto-innovation from women farmers in Niger [open], Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 2022. DOI: 10.1007/s13593-021-00675-2
Arthur T Knackerbracket has processed the following story:
A common chemical found in urine can be used to kick-start large-scale production of proteins such as hormones and antibodies used by biotech companies.
Researchers at the University of Birmingham and Aston University, in the U.K., have developed a system that uses urea to trigger the production of these proteins in the large quantities needed by the biotech industry.
Typically, in this process, small pieces of DNA are introduced into bacteria such as E.coli to persuade them to overproduce certain proteins. It is a well-understood technology that was first developed in the 1970s. Overproduction, however, is typically triggered by "inducer" molecules, which can be costly, and often need careful handling, such as refrigeration.
By using urea instead, the researchers have developed a method that is cheaper, more straightforward, and uses easily accessible materials.
[...] The study builds on earlier work in which the team successfully demonstrated that nitrate, a cheap, stable and abundant inorganic ion, could also be used as a trigger. Nitrate is commonly found in many commercial fertilizers and even in some garden fertilizers, meaning that it is always readily available, even in areas where other types of promoter chemicals might be inaccessible.
Co-author Dr. Joanne Hothersall, also in the School of Biosciences, added, "Both urea and nitrate will be much more readily available, and easy to use, in locations where infrastructure limits access, for example where maintaining a cold supply chain is challenging. We hope these new approaches will open up new avenues of research for biotech industries."
A versatile substance indeed:
Should We be Trying to Create a Circular Urine Economy?
In Space, Pee Is for Power
World's First Biobricks Grown from Human Urine
Testing the Use of Human Urine as a Natural Fertilizer for Crops
Geopolymer Concrete: Building Moon Bases with Astronaut Urine and Regolith
Joanne Hothersall, Alexander Osgerby, Rita E. Godfrey, et al. New vectors for urea-inducible recombinant protein production, New Biotechnology (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.nbt.2022.10.003