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posted by hubie on Wednesday June 22, @04:33PM   Printer-friendly
from the better-pea-yield dept.

Testing the use of human urine as a natural fertilizer for crops:

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.

Journal Reference:
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


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  • (Score: 1) by pir on Thursday June 23, @04:07PM (2 children)

    by pir (9719) on Thursday June 23, @04:07PM (#1255611)

    First off: I applaud the people working on this. More Things Like This Please (environmental action that can actually solve problems)!

    Urine from healthy humans is essentially sterile. Pasteurization is a good idea, because people can be sick, and because diluted urine is a good growth medium for some microorganisms (including some pathogens) in the air, water, or in the container being used for collection. The pasteurization process can be as simple as peeing into a container on a warm sunny day, and not diluting and using it until it's been hit by a full day (or more) of sunlight, which is exactly what I do. Adding some compost tea to the diluted urine makes a highly effective all-purpose liquid fertilizer, as these people found. One must take care using it with plants that are highly sensitive to salts, though most of those kinds of plants aren't heavy feeders anyway.

    I've used diluted urine in my garden (including food crops) for years. It's a great source of plant nutrition that (along with "humanure", which does require composting at elevated (easy to achieve) temperatures for extended periods to be safe for food crops) is mostly being wasted, which is a shame.

    Though the amount of wasted human manure *pales* in comparison to the amount of livestock manure that is not only wasted, but causes serious pollution (ocean dead zones, etc.) If the world were at all sane, all that fertility would be used to grow food or at least be put back into local ecosystems using simple ecological processes (composting).

    Bonus fact: human urine is an effective repellent for many critters that like to eat garden plants.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23, @05:44PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23, @05:44PM (#1255629)

    Bonus fact: human urine is an effective repellent for many critters that like to eat garden plants.

    Diluted or undiluted? Do you have to spray it on the leaves?

    • (Score: 1) by pir on Friday June 24, @01:04AM

      by pir (9719) on Friday June 24, @01:04AM (#1255717)

      I find it effective (though I have limited experience so far) undiluted, in containers *right* next to the plants you want to protect from deer, rodents, etc. Apparently (from reading of others experience) it remains an effective repellent for a few days at most, so it's necessary to resupply frequently. Apparently you can spray a diluted solution on leaves as well, but I've yet to try that.

      Cayenne pepper also works well, but also has to be reapplied frequently, and too much can hurt the plants.

      Next year, I'm planting "onion fences" along with marigolds around all the plants that critters like to munch.