Urine as a fertilizer

The Stockholm Environment Institute conducted experiments and collected data that shows the usefulness of a resource every one of us has access to — urine. When utilized as a fertilizer, urine can provide an alternative to chemical fertilizers. The impacts ripple far beyond the nutrient value of the urine; in developing regions, diverting a urine waste stream to fertilizer has a significant economic value. These benefits can easily be recognized at the individual level, and scale all the way up to industrial operations.

Nutrient value

95% of the 0.8-1.5L of urine each person produces per day is water, but the last 5% is comprised of both the macro-nutrients all gardeners are familiar with — Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), and Potassium (K) — as well as some trace micro-nutrients. While the actual content will vary slightly depending on your diet, your urine is generally a well balanced nitrogen rich fertilizer straight out of your body. The average person produces enough urine per year to cover 300-400 m2 of land to a level of 50-100kg/ha of nitrogen.

Some of the yearly values of the nutrients are:

  • 3.5kg of nitrogen
  • 0.5kg phosphorus
  • 1.0kg potassium
  • 0.5kg sulfur
  • 40g magnesium
  • 100g calcium

A family of four can produce the equivalent of a 50kg bag of NPK fertilizer from urine alone every year. This urine has a 10:1:4 ratio of nutrients. This shows a higher nitrogen content than many mineral fertilizers and can be expressed in the lower P/N and K/N ratios of urine. Another positive effect of using urine is that the phosphorous is in a plant usable form, requiring no additional processing before it can be absorbed. The concentration of nutrients in the water can be diluted or concentrated with either drinking more fluid or sweating. This will not have any effect of the total nutrient content and can be diluted just prior to application with water. There is no good reason to concentrate urine destined for use as fertilizer.

How to use

Once collected, urine can either be stored or applied immediately. The application can be done in a variety of spreading methods. The most basic application would be to use a watering can. You can choose to dilute the urine anywhere from 1:1 to 1:15 with water, the most common being ~1:5, or apply it straight. Take care to apply the urine directly to the soil, avoiding foliar feeding the leaves and fruits. To aid in the absorption of the urine it is suggested to dig a small amount of soil up around the leaf perimeter and pour the urine there. Afterward push dirt back over to cover the urine.

Application of diluted urine in early stages of cultivation
Photo: Linus Dagerskog

It is best to apply the urine directly to the soil. This acts as another safety barrier as well as prevents the plants from being burned. Urine applied by foliar feeding, direct application to the plant, will often burn your plants. It will not kill them or do any unrepairable damage, but it is still advised to apply the urine directly to the soil. Some plants are sensitive to the high nutrient content in urine and may burn even if you apply directly to the soil. In the case of tomato plants, which are sensitive to urine, it is best to apply the urine by digging a small trough around the drip line of the plant. The drip line is generally as far as the roots reach; applying the urine here will allow the plant to take what it needs from the peripheral area without burning. As always, if the urine seems too strong for your application, try diluting it just before applying. Dilute as close to application as possible; do not dilute prior to storage.

Other ways to spread the urine are with an irrigation system or animal slurry distribution systems. If irrigation is used, it is advised to flush the lines with water after the urine is applied. This prevents any deposits from building up and clogging the irrigation line. No matter what method of application is chosen, urine should be applied just before it rains or at the end of the day if possible. This is more important in arid areas where evaporation could lead to salt buildup in the soil, but will be beneficial in all regions. If rain is frequent, applications can be increased.

If urine is applied to the soil with little or no storage time, it will break down better and faster than if stored in tanks. This is the preferred use, but only for family farms. The soil, along with its diverse organisms, allows for faster aerobic breakdown of the pollutants picked up in the system. The UV light from the sun also helps hasten the breakdown process — up to 50,000 times more degradation! If an entire community is involved in the urine reclamation, it becomes safer to store the urine.

Handling

For the single family using urine as fertilizer, the handling is very simple. A urine diverting toilet is a great way to make collection painless, but for the developing world some jerry cans are all that is needed. Urine diverting toilets built in Niger have shown to pay back the construction cost when valuing the urine collected as fertilizer, in just under 2 years. The single family does not need to worry about cross contamination as much as a community and therefore is not required to store the urine for as long to make it “safe”. As previously mentioned, urine can be applied directly, without storage — just fine at the family level. These rules are also true for urinals, which have very low cross contamination rates with faeces. It only becomes necessary to store it longer when dealing with large numbers of urine sources. To be extra safe, families can store their urine for 1-4 weeks.

For large community collection several other measures are required. When first implementing any system like this, it is best to contact and involve the farmers that will be using the urine. By involving them you can meet their needs as well as potentially allow them to get involved in the collection process, creating a small income stream for the farmer.

After collecting urine from multiple sources, storage to kill pathogens is required. Large meter cube storage containers are often utilized for their low cost and high availability. If these are not available, jerry cans can be used through the entire process. 20L jerry cans are extremely common. Each 20L container can cover between 4 and 20 square meters of land. These containers are often two colors to indicate their storage life. A yellow container denotes the urine is still in storage, while a green container denotes liquid fertilizer, or birg-koom. Storage time for urine collected from many sources is suggested between 1 and 6 months. The colder the temperature the longer it will take for the pathogens to die down. Ambient temperatures in warmer climates should look toward 1-2 months storage and as the climate gets colder, increase storage time. Make sure not to dilute the urine prior to storage, most commonly with gray water from the sink, or it will take longer for the pathogens to die. Stronger urine is a much harsher environment. Additives and even just a handful of compost are being studied to aid in the breakdown of pathogens as well as increase the nutrient content of the urine. These studies look promising, but have not been published as of yet.

Yellow container for fresh urine,
green container for stored urine to be sold to farmers.
Photo: Linus Dagerskog

One thing to watch out for with the long term storage of urine is the crystallization of phosphorous. The crystals form on the walls of the containers, but can be broken up easily by stirring the urine occasionally. These same crystals can also end up clogging pipes and irrigation lines if not taken care of. For pipes and lines, simply run fresh water through after each urine application.

Storage of urine in one cubic metre tank
Photo: Anna Richert

Safety

While urine is not very dangerous, some precautions should be take to ensure safety. The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a barrier system to prevent the spread of any disease. The barrier system is quite basic and requires no special skills or tools.

The multi-barrier approach

The first barrier in the WHO process is source separation. This happens at the household level where urine and faeces are separated by a urine diverting toilet. After that, the urine is collected and stored. Everyone involved in handling the urine should wear rubber shoes and gloves. The third barrier is the application technique: applying the urine directly into the soil, preventing it from getting on the above ground parts of the plant. Fourth is selective application. For example, fast growing greens like lettuce are not the best targets for urine fertilizer because they grow and are consumed so fast.

Risk levels in relation to crop and handling strategy

Next is the withholding period barrier. No crops should have urine applied at least a month before harvest. This applies to all kinds of fertilizers, not urine specifically, but it is none-the-less another barrier. The fifth barrier is the gloves and boots, which should be used at all times during urine processing and application. Lastly, hands should be washed frequently when handling urine and all crops should also be washed prior to consumption.

Another safety concern is how urine is stored. Use only sealed containers, otherwise you risk mosquitoes breeding. While urine is fairly sterile when it is fresh, there are some organisms that are alive in it. These will break down when applied to the soil usually, but the storage process is what makes sure these organisms are all dead. One such organism that can live in urine is Salmonella typhi/paratyphi, although it is short lived — requiring only 1 week of storage to reduce their numbers one thousand times.

Cross contamination from faeces is probably the largest concern. While this is not the end of the world, the likelihood of harmful organisms surviving past the application point is higher. Diarrhea is an exception and should be watched for carefully as it is a source of bad contamination.

Again these safety concerns all but disappear at the family level. Family members are more likely to transmit diseases directly to the other members of the family than through urine. The health risks at the family level are very low. Urine can be applied fresh, in its near sterile form as previously mentioned, to allow for aerobic and UV breakdown.

When these safety concerns are compared to using pesticide and animal antibiotics, you are actually at a far less risk of transmitting diseases via urine than you are using “modern” substances and techniques. Urine fertilizer has shown lower heavy metals than waste or sludge water and even farmyard manure. The chemicals introduced through the consumption of pharmaceuticals are much worse, and not properly treated, even in most first world countries. When working with local urine, and even more-so when dealing with a family, your chemical loop will be closed. Only the chemicals you have taken will be present in your urine; no outside sources are used as input. Menstrual blood in the urine has no negative health impacts and can be used normally.

Components of urine collection system Ouagadougou, Berkina Faso
Photos: CREPA

Economics

In developing nations where resources are scarce, being able to produce your own fertilizer can go a long way to economic sovereignty. In Burkina Faso the value of a 20L container of urine is about 25 US cents. The farmers in Burkina Faso can often only afford to purchase one bag of fertilizer per season at a cost of 6-7USD. By harvesting their urine and using it as a fertilizer the farmer can create the equivalent of two bags worth of fertilizer for little to no economic input. The cost of purchasing the chemical fertilizer is also retained, further reducing economic stress.

The economic value can multiply quickly as you scale up to a village-sized collection system. This has side effects of producing jobs all through the cycle from collection, to tracking storage, to sales, and many others. As valuable as this is for the local village, reducing the need for external chemical fertilizers, it is not without its shortcomings. The collection cost of running a urine storage/distribution facility is currently greater than the industrial value of the urine when compared to other fertilizers.

Yield

The true benefits of the system can be seen in the increased yields. In terms of sustenance farming, there is little else to be said. Larger crops mean more income for the farmer, and more food for the community. While the test crops were not measured with scientific rigor, it is clear that the urine treated crops out produced non treated crops.

Field trials from Niger. Urine fertilised millet to the right.
Photo: Linus Dagerskog

Urine fertilised sorghum to the left
Photo: Linus Dagerskog

Spinach (Swiss Chard) fertilised with urine, left.
Photo: Peter Morgan

Conclusion

Urine is a valuable resource that should be harvested more widely. In the developing world, this built-in fertilizer stream is low hanging fruit on the road out of poverty. With even a minimal investment, a family or sustenance farmer can not only reduce their need for importing synthetic fertilizers, but can also reclaim a waste stream. The beneficial impacts stretch far beyond the urine diverting toilet.

For more information check out:

Related Reading:

  • Phosphorus Matters
  • Phosphorus Matters II – Keeping Phosphorus on Farms
  • Life at Zaytuna: Closing the Loop
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Contents

Urine: the ultimate ‘organic’ fertiliser?

Ever felt the urge to skip the toilet and just pee in the bush, behind the tree, in the flowerbed? Have you ever wondered why we have been so conditioned to hold on to a screaming bladder while we search for the nearest toilet, which could be many minutes away, meanwhile putting certain internal organs through extreme stress?

There are public decency laws to respect, and for women there are obvious added complications surrounding the degree of derobing that may be necessary, but we shouldn’t be wasting this ultimate homemade fertiliser. Most of us may have a deeply ingrained belief that urine is a noxious substance that must be disposed of in a urinal, but this is a myth that needs busting.

Urine for a pleasant surprise

Human urine is one of the fastest-acting, most excellent sources of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and trace elements for plants, delivered in a form that’s perfect for assimilation. Not only that, we all have a constant, year-round supply of it – and it’s free!

Fresh human urine is sterile and so free from bacteria. In fact it is so sterile that it can be drunk when fresh; it’s only when it is older than 24 hours that the urea turns into ammonia, which is what causes the ‘wee’ smell. At this stage it will be too strong for use on plants, but poured neat on to the compost heap it makes a fabulous compost accelerator/activator, with the extra benefit of adding more nutrients.

Dilute one part urine to 10-15 parts water for application on plants in the growth stage. Dilute in 30-50 parts water for use on pot plants, which are much more sensitive to fertilisers of any kind. Trees, shrubs and lawns are fine with undiluted urine, but for obvious reasons apply it underneath fruiting bushes, as opposed to directly on to foliage and fruit. Some fertilisers, such as seaweed, are specifically used as foliar feeds , but urine is always best applied directly to a plant’s root system.

Antibiotics, vitamin supplements and other medications will end up in your urine, but in such minute quantities as to be negligible, especially when diluted in water.

What is wee?

Urine is 95 per cent water, 2.5 per cent of which is urea, and a further 2.5 per cent of which is a mixture of minerals, salts, hormones and enzymes. It is a blood byproduct but despite containing some bodily waste is non-toxic.

In 1975, Dr A. H. Free published his book Urinalysis in Clinical Laboratory Practice, presenting a few of the critical nutrients found in urine, including urea nitrogen, urea, creatinin nitrogen, creatinin, uric acid nitrogen, ammonia nitrogen, amino nitrogen, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, inorganic sulphate and inorganic phosphate.

During a pee, a healthy adult will release 11g nitrogen/urea, 1g phosphorus/super-phosphate and 2.5g potassium. Patrick Makhosi, a soil scientist with Uganda’s Kawanda Agricultural Research Organisation, confirms the efficacy of human urine as a fertiliser. He says that applying urine to growing vegetables once every week for at least two months will more than double the yield.

Flushed with embarrassment

Many toilets use between 50 and 100 litres of water a day to flush approximately 1.5 litres of pee. The average person has five wees a day and the average flush uses eight litres of water – that’s 40 litres. Given that the population of the UK is an estimated 62 million, we may be contaminating and then flushing away somewhere in the region of 2,500 million litres of clean drinking water every day. (Returning our waste water to a drinkable condition also involves a complicated process of chemical separation and cleaning.) If this were an action by a commercial company, serious questions would be asked about its practices. Diluting urine to use as a fertiliser would use a fraction of this amount of water while producing a valuable plant food.

Using urine instead of disposing of it also cuts down on river pollution: urine is a major source of nitrogen, which, if an expensive denitrification process is not undertaken at the water treatment plant, can contribute to river eutrophication. Excessive levels of nutrients in our effluent systems leads to the growth of algae. Algal blooms can ultimately causes the death of plants and animals throughout our waterways.

So, if you want a ready source of plant food that is perfectly balanced for your garden, that is absolutely free, available all year round, saves valuable drinking water and excessive use of cleaning chemicals, and limits the heavy use of fossil fuels in artificial fertiliser production, consider using your own urine.

There is also the added pleasure of feeling that you are a more integrated part of the cycle of growth in your garden; in the loop, not exempted from it. Happy gardening – and remember these golden rules…

Keep it separate
Separate urine from other bodily waste to keep it sterile. Pee in a bottle or bucket, or invest in a urine-separating toilet.

Use it fresh
The smell of ammonia also indicates a drop in nutritional content. Use old wee directly on your compost heap

Always dilute
Urine is too strong to be used neat on plants. Dilute at least 10:1 and up to 50:1 for use on tender plants and seedlings.

Dorienne Robinson is a freelance journalist

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Human urine provides an excellent source of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and trace elements for plants, and can be delivered in a form that’s perfect for assimilation. With a constant, year-round and free supply of this resource available, more and more farmers and gardeners are making use of it.

What’s in it?

Urine is 95% water. The other 5% consists of urea (around 2.5%), and a mixture of minerals, salts, hormones and enzymes. It is a blood byproduct, but despite containing some bodily waste, it is non-toxic.

The average urine from a healthy adult will release 11g nitrogen/urea, 1g phosphorus/super-phosphate and 2.5g potassium. The normal range for a 24-hour urine output is 800 to 2000 milliliters (ml) per day with a normal fluid intake of about 2 liters per day. That’s an average of 1400 ml per person, per day!

Fresh human urine is sterile and so free from bacteria. Only when it is older than 24 hours, the urea turns into ammonia, which is what causes the distinctive smell. Antibiotics, vitamin supplements, and other medications will end up in your urine, but in such minute quantities as to be negligible, especially when diluted with water.

How to use it

Urine can be used in a number of ways, such as a solution that is applied to plants to provide a quick, short-term boost in growth or as a nitrogen additive to the carbon-based material, facilitating the composting process. I prefer to use urine for compost building or biomass production as I find long-term fertility solutions preferable to quick fixes.

Let’s look at the various ways it can be used.

Plant feed solution

It is too strong to be used neat on most plants and should be diluted. Dilute one part fresh urine to 10-15 parts water for application on plants in the growth stage. Dilute one part fresh urine to 30-50 parts water for use on pot plants, which are much more sensitive to fertilisers of any kind.

Even when diluted your plants don’t need daily applications, and it’s best used on plants that need lots of nitrogen, such as corn and squash, tomatoes and cucumbers during their fruit-bearing stage.
You can also use it to remedy nitrogen deficiencies. Signs of nitrogen deficiency include yellow or pale green leaves.

Nitrogen deficiency in Tomato (photo by https://www.haifa-group.com/knowledge_center/deficiencies/nutrients/macro_nutrients/n_nitrogen/)

There is a danger of applying too much, and the excess nitrogen can lead to bushy, leafy plants that attract aphids and bear little fruit. Signs of excess nitrogen include curled leaves,

Excess diluted urine can be used on lawns and trees.

Compost additive

Urine can be applied directly to the compost pile. As it’s very high in nitrogen, it should be added to plenty of carbon-rich materials, like dry leaves, sawdust, straw, and cardboard. Urine can act as a starter for compost, encouraging the decomposition process. Undiluted urine can also be applied directly to heavily mulched soils serving the same function as above. The mulch should be thick enough to absorb the urine before it can make contact with plant roots

Straw Bale Stacks

You can urinate directly on a bale of straw, and eventually the straw will decompose and can be used as compost or you can plant directly into the decomposing straw bales.

We use straw bale stacks which are, as the name suggests, simply a number of bales stacked up. These provide excellent habitat for overwintering toads and frogs. When the bales have decomposed the area is perfect for planting trees into. It’s weed free, with mulch and compost right where it needs to be. Build a new pile where you plan to plant a tree in the future and see the toads and frogs quickly move in. Aesculapian Snakes are also commonly found in our bale stacks along with a tremendous amount of invertebrates. The bales on the ground surface will decompose within 12 months even without urine.

Common Toad – Bufo bufo and Aesculapian snake – Zamenis longissimus photographed within one of our Straw bale stacks.

Applied Directly

Some plants such as Symphytum x uplandicum – Comfrey ‘Bocking 14’ can handle neat urine (See the article Comfrey – Believe the Hype). Following cutting the plants, you can provide each plant with approx. 700 ml of undiluted urine.

Comfrey ‘Bocking 14’ – Symphytum x uplandicum growing in the under story of our forest garden.

This creates an excellent opportunity to cut out the dilution phase and produce good quantities of high quality nutrient dense mulch for your crops. This biomass when continuously applied to the surface of your beds will help create long-term fertility in your gardens by building up the soil humus levels.

This article originally appears on the Balkan Ecology Project website, here.

You can find this and many more fantastic articles on their facebook page, here.

Fertilizing with human urine

Using human urine can help us work toward a closed-loop fertility system. While not a plant-based technique per se, using their own urine is a way that veganic gardeners can cycle back the nutrients from the foods they consume, while also diverting their urine from the water system where it acts as a pollutant.

Nutrients in human urine

When we eat food, our kidneys filter out excess nutrients that our body is unable to use, and these nutrients are then expelled from the body in our urine. Our urine contains significant levels of nitrogen, as well as phosphorous and potassium. The relative ratios are typically around 11 parts nitrogen to 1 part phosphorus to 2.5 parts potassium. Americans produce about 90 million gallons of urine a day, containing about 7 million pounds of nitrogen. Studies conducted in Sweden (Sundberg, 1995; Drangert, 1997) show that an adult’s urine contains enough nutrients to fertilize 50-100% of the crops needed to feed one adult. Rather than importing nutrients for gardening, and exporting nutrients via the toilet, we can help close this loop by keeping our urine in the local food cycle. It can be especially beneficial for fertilizing in city environments where other local forms of fertility may be scarce due to lack of green spaces.

The truth about flushing

The high nitrogen levels in urine are favorable for plant growth, though this can actually pose a major environmental hazard when we flush urine down the toilet into the public water systems. After we flush, part of the nitrogen is removed during an energy-intensive denitrification process. The remaining nitrogen often makes its way to natural waterways, where it can off-balance the ecosystems through a process called eutrophication: the excess nitrogen causes increased algae and aquatic plant growth, and as these plants decompose it depletes the oxygen supply that is needed by aquatic animals, often causing death. So it’s preferable to cycle the nutrients in our urine through terrestrial environments rather than aquatic environments, by fertilizing trees, bushes, wildflowers, lawns, and even our gardens.

Is it safe for our health?

Is urine safe to use in our gardens? Pretty much. In healthy populations, human urine is almost always sterile. In the rare cases when it isn’t sterile, urine is generally still fine for personal use, or can be stored for several months to minimize pathogen risk. But you don’t have to take our word for it: there are detailed resources available that give comprehensive information. The following is intended to be a brief and non-exhaustive overview of health concerns and solutions, though we ask that people do their own research and draw their own conclusions.

Health concerns and solutions:

  • Avoiding fecal contamination: this is the most important element in the safe use of urine. While pee is almost always sterile, feces contains dangerous pathogens. Make sure that you get a 100% stream of pure urine. Special toilets are available that will separate your urine and divert it into a holding tank, though a simple plastic jug probably works even better to avoid any chance of fecal contamination. You can also store urine in a sealed container for several months to minimize any potential pathogens. (Sidenote: feces can be made safe for gardening through a specific composting process described in the Humanure Handbook, though should otherwise be completely avoided in gardening).
  • Avoiding illness: If someone has a urinary tract infection, or is using medications, they should avoid using their urine in edible gardens. Though there are still advantages to using the urine on lawns or landscaping, to avoid sending it to aquatic environments.
  • Individual use: Urine is considered quite safe for individual use. Our urine is probably sterile, and even if it’s not, we can’t catch anything from our own urine that we don’t already have. It’s recommended that after applying urine, we wait a month before eating the crops as a simple precaution.
  • Group use: When mixing urine from multiple people, again, it’s probably sterile, though there is more chance of pathogens, especially from accidental fecal contamination. Store the urine for 6 months in a sealed container before using it, and wait another month before eating the food crops as an added precaution.
  • Being extra safe and socially acceptable: Where safety and social acceptability are concerns for the user, there are a variety of ways of cycling the nutrients from urine. For those who choose to fertilize fruit and vegetable gardens, most people would focus on fruit-bearing crops like tomatoes and cucumbers rather than peeing by the root vegetables. Or, we can fertilize perennial plants like bushes and trees with urine, and later use the plants’ leaves in our compost pile or as a mulch, as a very safe and socially-acceptable way to cycle the nutrients back to our gardens. Or, when cycling our urine for environmental reasons, there’s no need to add it to our food crops: it can just as easily be applied to non-edible plants, like trees, wildflowers, lawns and landscaping projects.


Container gardens that occasionally receive watered-down pee

Using pee: A how-to guide

Keep in mind that urine is very high in nitrogen. You may need to pee daily, but your plants don’t need your daily pee. Choose plants that need lots of nitrogen, such as corn and squash, tomatoes and cucumbers during their fruit-bearing stage, and older plants that need a boost. Signs of nitrogen deficiency include yellow or pale green leaves, and some plants have key signs, like pointed cucumbers. Don’t overdo it at the beginning of the season, as excess nitrogen can lead to bushy, leafy plants that bear little fruit. Signs of excess nitrogen include curled leaves, and these plants may also attract aphids. For garden plants in need of a genuine nitrogen boost, once or twice a month is generally fine, though some people will add highly diluted pee a couple of times a week. If you have more pee to give, try your lawn, trees and bushes.

As a basic premise, the urine must be mixed with carbon-rich materials in order for the nitrogen to become accessible to the plants. Carbon-rich materials can include leaves, straw, or just good quality earthy soil. The nitrogen in urine is in the form of urea, creatine, and ammonia; when mixed with carbon-rich materials, the aerobic bacteria convert it into nitrates, which the plants can then uptake.

Here are a few possible ways to use pee in your garden or landscaping. Please read the safety guidelines too.

  • Recipe 1: Watered-down pee
    For soil with good drainage that is crumbly and earthy-smelling. Also works well for container gardens.

    Grab a reclaimed plastic container and take a pee. Dilute it with eight to ten parts water, and apply it to the soil. Easy peesy. Working the urine into the soil or applying the urine under the top layer of soil would ensure that less nitrogen is lost due to conversion to ammonia gas, and the presence of soil organisms would help neutralize the (rare chance of) pathogens, though just pouring it on the soil works okay too. After applying the pee, water the plant.

  • Recipe 2: Straight up pee
    For soil with a thick layer of carbon-rich mulch, like wood chips and leaf mulch.

    This is the easiest method. Just pee on the mulch. The mulch will stop the plants from receiving an overly-concentrated blast of urine, as well as helping to break down the nitrogen into a source the plants can use. Peeing between two layers of mulch will lessen nitrogen losses from conversion to ammonia gas.

  • Recipe 3: Compost pee
    Urine can be composted. It’s very high in nitrogen, so it counts as a “green” in the compost, and shouldn’t be added to a compost bin that is already high in nitrogen-rich materials like food scraps. Be sure to add plenty of carbon-rich materials, like dry leaves, sawdust, straw and cardboard. Urine can act as a starter for a compost, encouraging the decomposition process, such as adding urine to a pile of leaves.
  • Recipe 4: Straw bale bathroom
    You can urinate directly on a bale of straw until the straw decomposes, and this compost can later be added to your garden. We’ve even met a gardener from Montreal who plants directly in the decomposing straw bales to create a new garden.
  • Recipe 5: Greywater with a hint of yellow
    Greywater is the waste water from showering, doing dishes, etc, and urine can be added to a greywater system. The greywater provides some carbon and significantly dilutes the urine. Ideally this should drain into an aerobic greywater system with natural filters like plants and gravel. Instructions for installing such a system can be purchased from the EcoWaters Project in the guide How to Build a Washwater Garden Plan.

Keep in mind: Urine is high in salt. This is one reason why it needs to be properly diluted. Not all plants respond well to high salt content. Reducing the salt in your diet can be helpful to your own health and improve the salt ratio in your urine.

Is it good for our gardens?

Pretty much. As long as we don’t add excessive amounts.

Like all liquid nutrient sources, this shouldn’t become the primary form of fertility for our gardens. In natural ecosystems the soil organisms break down organic matter, like leaves and food scraps, and make the nutrients accessible to plants: this is nature’s digestive system. Liquid feeds (including urine, compost teas, chemical fertilizers…) bypass this natural system and feed the plants directly, much like a human receiving a liquid diet through an intravenous tube rather than eating lunch. We need to provide the soil organisms with organic matter in order to keep the soil healthy and biodiverse. So in general, liquid feeds should only be used as a complement to other forms of fertility, such as compost and mulch. On the upside, adding a little urine can help activate the decomposition of organic matter, so a wee bit of pee here and there is fine.

Adding too much urine can also affect plant health. Ever see a yellow patch on a lawn because a dog keeps peeing in the same spot? Too much nitrogen; it burns the plant roots. However, the reverse is true, that a lawn that is yellow because of a lack of nitrogen can have green patches where the dog pees. So, in order for urine to be helpful, we need to be observant of our gardens and moderate how much we apply.

Is this even veganic?

Sort of. That depends how you look at it.

Using human urine isn’t a “plant-based technique,” so in its purest form it can’t be considered “plant-based growing”. Though, all veganic gardens naturally contain free-living animals, like microorganisms, earthworms, and birds, who eat organic matter and create “micro-manure” as part of their normal daily life. So while veganic growing excludes the addition of waste products from animals that have been bred and raised, humans can be seen as “free-living animals” who voluntarily contribute their waste. This can also help reestablish humans as contributing members of a local ecosystem, rather than separating ourselves (and our bodily waste) through mechanized processes.

Here at the Veganic Agriculture Network, we keep our large countryside garden completely plant-based, to produce veganic food without the addition of any animal products (human or non-human). In the city, we use a little of our urine in our balcony container gardens to provide additional fertility to the plants, and to avoid the occasional flush in a highly urban environment.

Is urine gross? Does it smell?

Despite urine having an “ick” factor in many modern cultures, it’s been used throughout history for a variety of purposes, including cleaning wounds, making bread, and in the process of dying clothing. There are even people who drink their own urine on a regular basis. While there are good reasons to be cautious around feces, urine is generally sterile and fine to use for a variety of purposes. To learn more about the history and culture of urine, see Liquid Gold and Life of Pee.

Urine does sometimes smell. There really isn’t much problem if you use it immediately, especially if you dilute it. If you choose to store the urine (i.e. to eliminate potential pathogens) keep it in a closed container to reduce the smell. When applying it to the soil, it can help to slightly bury the urine in the soil or under mulch. We’ve used diluted urine in container gardens on a balcony for quite some time, and the neighbors haven’t even noticed.

Is it allowed?

For home gardens it should be fine, especially if you keep it low-key, but what about commercial farms? In some countries urine is accepted in commercial farming, such as Sweden, where it’s even applied mechanically to large-scale farms. The regulations vary from country to country, and using human urine could also affect the certification status of a farm. So if you are a commercial farmer, please contact the relevant local services to learn whether urine is an acceptable soil amendment in your region.

Further resources

Online resources

  • SSWM (Sustainable Sanitation and Water Management)
    Urine Fertilisation (Small-Scale)
    Urine Fertilization (Large-Scale)
    Urine Storage
  • Avkopedia
    Application of Urine

Books

  • Liquid Gold: The Lore and Logic of Using Urine to Grow Plants. Carol Steinfield, EcoWaters Project, 96 pages.
  • Lifting the Lid: An Ecological Approach to Toilet Systems. Peter Harper and Louise Halestrap, Centre for Alternative Technology, 160 pages.
  • Life of Pee: The Story of How Urine Got Everywhere. Sally Magnusson, Aurum Press, 208 pages.

Every time you pee in a toilet, you flush away potentially valuable chemicals. One day, you might not have to.

Human urine is rich in nitrogen and phosphorus. Plants need these nutrients to grow. Now researchers in Finland have a new way to pull them out of human pee. And, they say, this process can turn a profit.

Pee is mostly water. The rest of it are wastes that urine ferries out of the body. One of those wastes is excess nitrogen. Urine’s nitrogen exists mostly in the form of a chemical known as urea (Yu-REE-uh). Urine also removes excess phosphorus from the body.

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Both nitrogen and phosphorus are nutrients that plants need to grow. But spraying urine directly onto farm fields is impractical. Untreated urine also can contain harmful germs that might make people sick. So researchers have been looking for ways to process pee into a safe, ready-to-apply plant fertilizer.

Surendra Pradhan is an environmental scientist at Aalto University in Finland. He got the inspiration for this innovation while doing research in Ghana. Large parts of that African country and other low-income nations have few systems for treating wastewater. Untreated human wastes can pollute bodies of water and lead to disease. Indeed, Pradhan notes, “Globally, wastewater is a very big issue.”

These radishes got a nitrogen boost from a fertilizer (white powdered crystals) created from human urine.Surendra Pradhan

Methods already existed to make fertilizer from urine. One process produces crystals of magnesium-ammonium phosphate. Its common name is struvite. Growers could find it useful where they need to fertilize food crops with phosphorus and nitrogen. But farmers don’t always need both. Also, many farmers aren’t familiar with struvite, Pradhan says. So they may not buy it.

Instead, Pradhan was inspired to make a urine-sourced version of a product that is already commonly used. It’s known as ammonium sulfate. His group described their innovative approach to making this nitrogen-rich product in the May 2 issue of Environmental Science & Technology.

Two products at once

The first step in their new process adds calcium hydroxide to urine. Calcium hydroxide is an alkaline chemical, also known as a base. It increases the urine’s pH to above 12. (The alkaline range on the pH scale runs from just above 7 — which is neutral — to a high of 14.) The high pH kills any germs and sterilizes the urine, Pradhan says.

Calcium hydroxide also reacts chemically with the urine. This pulls phosphorus out of the mixture in the form of calcium phosphate. That chemical can be sold as a phosphorus-rich fertilizer. The reaction also makes nitrogen-rich ammonia gas.

The new process diverts the gas into another chemical-reaction vessel. It contains sulfuric acid. Here, the ammonia reacts with the acid to make ammonium sulfate. That’s the common nitrogen-rich fertilizer.

The researchers will continue to work on these fertilizers to see whether they contain any potentially harmful contaminants. High levels of some metals, for instance, might pose health risks. But so far, Pradhan says, his team’s research suggests the risk of harmful contaminants is very, very low.

If all works out, the new urine-recycling process should be profitable. Number-crunching by Pradhan’s group shows that recycling 1,000 liters (264 gallons) of urine could yield a profit of about €2.25, or about $2.50. (€ is the symbol for euros, and here $ represents U.S. dollars.)

To be useful, the process must make money, Pradhan explains. Without a profit, people will likely not bother to recycle urine. And that will let a lot of valuable nutrients go to waste — literally.

Håkan Jönsson is an environmental engineer at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala. He did not work on Pradhan’s project. Using calcium hydroxide to do two things at once is “innovative,” he says. And, he adds, “The total process seems to make economic sense.”

Still, Jönsson notes, the concentration of nitrogen in the fertilizer is only about 13 percent. That’s lower than the 21 percent found in commercial ammonium sulfate. In his view, then, there is still room to improve this process.

Collecting urine

To make money, Pradhan’s process needs a steady supply of urine that does not contain other bathroom wastes. The best way to do that is with a separating toilet. In this type, pee goes into one part. Feces go in another. Although still relatively rare, such toilets are becoming more common in Finland and Sweden.

Other researchers are also trying to turn human wastes into something useful. Two of Jönsson’s colleagues at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences are developing their own “No-Waste Toilet.” The name refers to its goal of turning human wastes into a useful fertilizer.

The Swedish team’s design uses wood ash to raise the pH of the urine. That step stops a chemical process that would have changed urine’s nitrogen-rich urea into ammonia. The wood ash stabilizes the nitrogen in urea. Now the urine can be dried without losing the nutrient value of its nitrogen. The resulting materials could be used as a fertilizer product, according to environmental engineers Jenna Senecal and Björn Vinnerås. They described the toilet in the May 15 issue of Science of the Total Environment.

Pradhan’s group and the Swedish team use different approaches. But their goals are the same — safe treatment and reuse of urine. Our bodies excrete excess nutrients from foods as wastes. Says Jönsson, “The recycling of the nutrients from our food is needed for a more sustainable society.”

This is one in a series presenting news on technology and innovation, made possible with generous support from the Lemelson Foundation.

What Is Urea: Tips On Feeding Plants With Urine

Excuse me? Did I read that right? Urine in the garden? Can urine be used as a fertilizer? As a matter of fact, it can, and its use can improve your organic garden’s growth at no cost. In spite of our squeamishness about this bodily waste product, urine is clean in that it contains few bacterial contaminants when retrieved from a healthy source: you!

Can Urine Be Used as Fertilizer?

Can urine be used as fertilizer without laboratory treatment? Scientists seeking to answer that question used cucumbers as their test subjects. The plants were chosen because they and their plant relatives are common, easily contaminated with bacterial infections and are eaten raw. Cucumbers showed increases in both size and number after feeding the plants with urine, showed no difference in bacterial contaminants from their control counterparts, and were equally as tasty.

Successful studies have also been conducted using root vegetables and grains.

Feeding Plants with Urine

The success of feeding plants with urine could have a positive impact on worldwide hunger as well as for the organic gardener. In many third world countries, the cost of manufactured fertilizers, both chemical and organic, is cost prohibitive. In areas with poor soil conditions, using locally collected urine in the garden could improve crop yields easily and cost effectively.

What are the benefits of using urine in the garden for the home gardener? Urine is composed of 95 percent water. So far, so good, right? What garden doesn’t need water? Dissolved in that water are trace amounts of vitamins and minerals which are necessary to plant health and growth, but the important part is that remaining five percent. That five percent is largely composed of a metabolic waste product called urea, and urea is why urine in the garden can be a very good idea.

What is Urea?

What is urea? Urea is an organic chemical compound produced when the liver breaks down proteins and ammonia. Half the urea in your body remains in your bloodstream while the other half is mostly excreted through the kidneys as urine. A smaller amount is excreted through sweat.

What is urea? It is the largest component of modern commercial fertilizers. Urea fertilizer has nearly replaced ammonium nitrate as a fertilizer in large farming operations. Although this urea is artificially produced, its composition is the same as that produced by the body. Manufactured urea fertilizer can, therefore, be considered an organic fertilizer. It contains large amounts of nitrogen, which is essential for healthy plant growth.

See the connection? The same chemical compound that is industrially produced is manufactured by the human body. The difference is in the concentration of the urea. Fertilizer produced in the lab will have a more consistent concentration. When applied to the soil, both will convert to the ammonia and nitrogen needed by plants.

Tips for Using Urine in the Garden

While the answer to can urine be used as fertilizer is a resounding yes, there are a few precautions you should take. Have you ever noticed the yellow spots on the lawn where the dog consistently urinates? That’s nitrogen burn. When feeding plants with urine, always use a solution of at least ten parts water to one part urine.

Also, urea fertilizer should be incorporated into the soil as quickly as possible to avoid the loss of the resulting gases. Water the area lightly either before or after application. Urine can also be used as a foliar spray with a dilution of twenty parts water to one part urine.

Can urine be used as a fertilizer? You bet, and now that you know what urea is and how it can benefit your garden, are you more willing to experiment? Remember, once you get past the “ick” factor, urine in the garden can be an effective an economically effective tool to organically increase production.

A study out of Finland has found that plants fertilized with urine performed four times as well as nonfertilized plants and just as well as plants given commercial mineral fertilizer. Urine plus wood ash (collected from a wood stove) produced as well, yet with the added benefit of reducing the acidity of the soil. The wood ash also adds extra potassium which encourages more fruit. The study shows that urine can be used as a substitute for chemical fertilizers “without posing any microbial or chemical risks.”*

The urine fertilized plants had a surprising increase in protein content- 35−37% higher protein compared to mineral and ash fertilized.* And more good news was that the study’s panel of 20 taste tasters found no taste difference between mineral or urine fertilized tomatoes.* Similar performance results have been found with cabbage, celery, corn, cucumber, eggplant, leafy greens, onions, radishes, spinach, citrus, melons, barley and wheat (better list below).

Urine is an excellent source of nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and trace elements. All the right elements that are necessary in large quantities for plant growth. One litre of urine contains 11 gms of nitrogen, 1 gm of phosphorus and 2 gms of potassium.** Nitrogen promotes leafy growth, phosphorus promotes root development and seed germination. Phosphorous and potassium promote fruit and flower development. Urine from a ‘healthy’ person is sterile, free of bacteria and viruses as long as it is uncontaminated by feces. Only diseases of the urinary tract contaminate urine so those with a urinary tract infection should not use their urine for fertilizer. Also, those taking antibiotics or meds should abstain, and those who consume a lot of salt should consider reducing their salt intake. A family of four creates enough urine to fertilize a third of an acre, year round.** After you collect your urine store it in an air tight container otherwise it will smell, lose its nitrogen, and become ammonia.

As a general rule for home garden use, dilute ‘fresh’ urine with water 3 or 4 parts to one, mixing only as much as you will use that day. Dilute 10 to one, for very young or delicate plants. It is recommended that you use this as an occasional fertilizer, not more than twice a week, and not every time you water. The plants must have regular water as well. If plants start to yellow, decrease urine and increase water. Corn is an exception and likes to be urine fertilized 3 times a week. Apply the urine into the soil around the plant’s roots. Watering after application helps drive in the nutrients and is recommended. Start applying urine fertilizer when plants are 2 weeks old. Stop fertilizing two weeks before harvest as mature plants do not need the extra nutrients. Use a gallon per 10 square feet of garden, 1 quart urine, 4 quarts water. Undiluted urine that sits around for more than a few days, where the nitrogen has decomposed into ammonia, can be thrown on the compost pile, as ammonia will hasten your composts’ breakdown. Urine that turns into ammonia will be more alkaline, but adding a touch of vinegar will slow the nitrogen off-gassing. Straight urine will nitrogen-burn plants and can be used to kill weeds.

Why Is Fertilizing With Urine Green?

  • Using 2+ gallons of water to down a half a cup of pee seems excessive…and nitrogen and phosphorous are excellent for plants, but ‘very’ harmful to our waterways.
  • No need to transport fertilizer via carbon-creating vehicles to your garden.
  • Our great-grandparents and their great-grandparents did this.
  • This is much healthier than using sewer sludge as fertilizer, which most all of us have already consumed.
  • Urine keeps fungus and bacteria at bay.
  • This process is a boon to third world countries. As it is free, plentiful and local.
  • A lot of natural gas is used in the production of synthetic urea. And their runoff into our waterways creates oxygen-less dead zones.

Plants That Do Well When Fertilized With Urine

    • Basil (dilute to 10 to 1 till one month old)
    • Cabbage
    • Celery
    • Corn
    • Cucumber
    • Eggplant (dilute to 10 to 1 till one month old)
    • Garlic
    • Leafy greens
    • Onions
    • Parsley
    • Peppers
    • Potatoes
    • Radishes
    • Spinach
    • Squash
    • Tomatoes
    • Bananas
    • Citrus
    • Grapes
    • Melons
    • Pineapple
    • Alfalfa
    • Barley
    • Millet
    • Sorghum
    • Wheat

Think green and leafy.
If you use on carrots- they will be all top.
Not as helpful on beans and legumes. ***
Too strong for sugar snap peas.

Further Reading On Urine As Fertilizer

The director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University Medical Center, Dr. Philip Tierno when interviewed by the Washinton Post expressed that there is little risk of contamination by pathogens in urine, “because they would be in competition with microorganisms found in the soil and would ‘probably lose the battle.’”
washingtonpost.com

Dr. Peter Morgan (a renowned sanitation and hygiene expert) says: “The balance of nutrients available in urine can be influenced by various means. The addition of plants and other materials to form a liquor which is allowed to ferment in urine, can change the balance. Thus the fermenting of comfrey leaves in urine is known to increase the proportion of potassium in relation to nitrogen (Hill, 1997) – see description in gardening techniques. It is also possible that the peels of fruits like banana, which are known to be high in phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulphur and citrus peels, known to be high in phosphorus and potassium, if allowed to ferment in urine, may readjust the balance of nutrients…” Dr Morgan also warns that if your soil is sandy- you must add humus before urine, otherwise the urine might kill plants growing in sandy soil. See amazing pictures of side by side (urine v. plain waer) examples here:

“Practical Guidance on the Use of Urine in Crop Production”: “Urine is a well-balanced nitrogen-rich quick- acting liquid fertilizer. The nutrient content in urine depends on the diet. If the nitrogen content in urine is not known, then as a rule of thumb, a concentration of 3-7 grams of N per litre of urine can be expected. Phosphorus in urine is excreted in a plant-available form making urine an efficient phosphorus fertilizer as well.”
sei-international.org

* pubs.acs.org Study: “Stored Human Urine Supplemented with Wood Ash as Fertilizer in Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) Cultivation and Its Impacts on Fruit Yield and Quality”

** arc.peacecorpsconnect.org Peace Corps Proposal: “Ecological sanitation system using human urine as a fertilizer to replenish nutrient-depleted agricultural soil”

*** forest.mtu.edu.pdf Michigan Technological University Student Projects Urine Fertilizer Sheet.

sciencedaily.com Article: “Human Urine As A Safe, Inexpensive Fertilizer For Food Crops”

Efficacy of Cow Urine as Plant Growth Enhancer and Antifungal Agent

Abstract

The present study was conducted to determine antifungal activity of three different concentrations (5, 10, and 15%) of cow urine against three fungal pathogens (Fusarium oxysporum, Rhizoctonia solani, and Sclerotium rolfsii) isolated from infected plants of Methi and Bhindi that showed symptoms of damping off and wilting disease by poison food technique. The extent of growth of test fungi in plates poisoned with cow urine was lesser when compared with the control plates. Among these concentrations cow urine at 15% concentration was most effective. When the three fungal organisms were compared, maximum growth suppression was observed in Fusarium oxysporum (78.57%) at 15% concentration of cow urine followed by Rhizoctonia solani (78.37%) and Sclerotium rolfsii (73.84%). Finally we concluded that the cow urine has antifungal activities and the inhibitory activity can be used in the control of fungi. The nutritional effect of cow urine on plant growth was also tested with Trigonella foenum-graecum (Methi) and Abelmoschus esculentus (Bhindi) plants and the chlorophyll and protein content was also estimated.

1. Introduction

Vegetable plants suffer from diseases caused by various kinds of pathogens such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, nematodes, and mycoplasma. Among these, fungi are considered as most aggressive pathogens causing qualitative and quantitative damage. Fungal pathogens, namely, Fusarium oxysporum, Rhizoctonia solani, and Sclerotium rolfsii, are associated with damping off and wilting of Methi and Bhindi (Okra). The plant diseases have significant role in agriculture in terms of reduction of yield and economy. One of the most widely used strategies to control plant diseases is the use of chemical agents. However, overuse and abuse of these chemical agents resulted in certain hazardous effects. These chemicals suffer from drawbacks such as high cost, toxicity to nontarget organisms, residual problem, and development of resistance in pathogens. This situation triggered interest in searching alternates for disease control. Natural products, in particular from plants, can be the potential candidates which can be used against phytopathogenic fungi. The use of these agents is risk-free when compared to synthetic chemicals. In ancient Ayurveda cow urine has been greatly mentioned for its pharmacological importance. Okra contains nutrients that may confer a number of health advantages, including a decreased risk of several serious medical problems. Methi is one of the oldest medicinal herbs; ongoing research in India and abroad is currently uncovering new possibilities for its potential role in the treatment of diabetes and high cholesterol levels associated with coronary heart disease, both of which plague many industrial societies . Cow urine is one of the ingredients of “Panchagavya” (urine, dung, milk, curd, and ghee) which is capable of treating many diseases as it has several medicinal properties and it is the best remedy to cure fungal and bacterial diseases. It has an excellent germicidal power, antibiotics and antimicrobial activity. Therefore, cow urine can kill varieties of germs and it also boosts immunity . Cow urine contains many beneficial elements, that is, chemical properties, potentialities, and constituents which help in removing all the ill effects and imbalances of body caused by infectious agents. Cow urine contains 95% water, 2.5% urea, and the remaining 2.5% a mixture of salts, hormones, enzymes, and minerals . It has been considered that cow urine is very useful in agricultural operations as a biofertilizer and biopesticide as it can kill number of pesticide and herbicide resistant bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Cow urine in combination with plant extracts is used to prepare disinfectant which is biodegradable and ecofriendly with good antibacterial action . Majority of people in India use cow urine to get rid of various diseases due to its therapeutic values. Cow urine has several biological activities such as antioxidant, antidiabetic, antitumor, antiprotozoal, and molluscicidal .

2. Materials and Methods

2.1. Collection of Cow Urine

Fresh cow urine was collected in a sterile container from a local variety of cow. The urine was filtered through Whatman No. 1 filter paper to get rid of debris and precipitated material and was stored in airtight container at 4°C before use.

2.1.1. Isolation of Fungal Pathogens

Fusarium oxysporum, Rhizoctonia solani, and Sclerotium rolfsii were isolated from infected plants of Methi and Bhindi (Okra) that showed symptoms of damping off and wilting.

2.2. Antifungal Activity

The three concentrations (5%, 10%, and 15% v/v) of cow urine were prepared. 10 mL of different concentrations of cow urine was amended in 10 mL of potato dextrose agar medium and mixed thoroughly by stirring. Control was maintained in which distilled water was used instead of cow urine. The medium was autoclaved and poured into sterilized Petri plates and left. The fungal discs of 5 mm diameter were taken from actively growing cultures by using cork borer and the discs were transferred aseptically on PDA plates poisoned with cow urine. Plates were incubated at 28 ± 2°C temperature in incubator for 7 days. After 7 days plates were observed and colony diameters were measured with the help of ruler . The percent of inhibition was calculated using the following formula given by : where is inhibition percentage, is colony diameter in control plates, and is colony diameter in poisoned plates.

2.3. Effect of Cow Urine on Plant Growth
2.3.1. Collection of Seeds

The seeds of Trigonella foenum-graecum (Methi) and Abelmoschus esculentus (Bhindi) were purchased from the local market of Solan, Himachal Pradesh.

2.3.2. Pot Culture Experiment

The pot culture study was conducted to find out the effect of various concentrations of cow urine on growth of Methi and Bhindi plants. The seeds were soaked in water over night and then 5 seeds were sown in different pots filled with sterile garden soil. The garden soil was sterilized in an autoclave at 15 lbs pressure for half an hour. The pH of the soil was adjusted to 7. Each pot was irrigated twice a day with different concentrations (1%, 2%, 3%, 4%, and 5% (v/v)) of cow urine. In control pots, the seeds were irrigated with tap water instead of cow urine. When the plants grew randomly 3 seedlings from each treatment were uprooted without disturbing the root system and different parameters such as plant height, shoot and root length, number of leaves and branches, and leaf length and breadth were measured after 25 days to observe the plant growth.

2.3.3. Estimation of Protein

10 mg of coomassie brilliant blue G250 was mixed with 10 mL of 88% phosphoric acid and 45 mL of absolute alcohol. Then the mixture was diluted to 100 mL with distilled water. 1 gm of fresh germinated seedlings (test seedlings) was ground in 20 mL of distilled water. It was filtered and filtrate was made up to 20 mL. Then 0.1 mL of filtrated solution was added with 0.9 mL of water to which 2 mL of coomassie blue was added. The absorbance was read at 595 nm. Same procedure was repeated for the seedlings that were treated with water as control .

2.3.4. Estimation of Carbohydrate

2 gm of anthrone was diluted in one liter of sulphuric acid and stored in dark bottle and labeled as anthrone reagent. 5 gm of plant sample was collected from control plant and test plants separately and ground in 2 mL of 80% acetone. The homogenized solution was filtered. 1 mL of filtered solution was added with 5 mL of anthrone reagent. The solution was heated in water bath for 5 minutes. The OD was taken for the above mentioned sample(s) at 600 nm. Standard of glucose was prepared by dissolving 100 mg of glucose in 100 mL water . The concentration of carbohydrate was calculated using the formula:

2.3.5. Estimation of Chlorophyll

Fresh leaves were collected from control plant and test plant separately and 1 gm of leaves was weighed. The leaves were cut into small pieces and homogenized in a mortar and pestle with excess of acetone and then filtered using Whatman No. 1 filter paper. The filtrate was collected and made up to 100 mL with acetone. 5 mL of extract was transferred into 50 mL volumetric flask and diluted to 50 mL with 80% acetone. Absorbance was read at 645 nm and 663 nm using spectrophotometer . The quantity of chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b, and total chlorophyll was calculated using the following formula: where is optical density, is final volume of 80% acetone (mL), and is dry weight of sample taken (g).

2.4. Statistical Analysis

The experiment was performed in triplicate. The results were represented as mean ± standard deviation (SD) to facilitate the comparison of the data.

3. Results

In the present studies three fungal pathogens, namely, Fusarium oxysporium var. trifoli, Rhizoctonia solani Kuhn (Corticium Vagum B. & C.), and Sclerotium rolfsii Sacc. were isolated from the diseased Trigonella foenum-graecum (Methi) and Abelmoschus esculentus (Bhindi) plants. Data presented in Table 1 depicts that all concentrations (5, 10, and 15%) of cow urine were effective against the growth of the fungus which exhibited the significant inhibition in the growth of fungal plant pathogens. With increase in concentration of cow urine there was corresponding increase in the inhibition of vegetative growth of the fungal pathogens. The diameter of the fungal colonies in poisoned plates was lesser when compared to control plates and it indicates the antifungal effect of cow urine. Maximum inhibition was shown against Fusarium oxysporum (78.57%) followed by Rhizoctonia solani (78.37%) and Sclerotium rolfsii (73.84%), whereas minimum inhibition was recorded with 5 percent concentration of cow urine in Rhizoctonia solani (48.60%) followed by Fusarium oxysporum (54.76%) and Sclerotium rolfsii (55.38%) (Figures 1(a)–1(c)).

Table 1 Antifungal activity of cow urine by poison food technique.
(a)
(b)
(c)
(a)
(b)
(c) Figure 1 (a) Effect of different concentrations (5%, 10%, and 15%) of cow urine on Fusarium oxysporum. (b) Effect of different concentrations (5%, 10%, and 15%) of cow urine on Rhizoctonia solani. (c) Effect of different concentrations (5%, 10%, and 15%) of cow urine on Sclerotium rolfsii.

Pot culture studies were carried out to find out the effects of cow urine spray on the phenotypic characters of Trigonella foenum-graecum (Methi) (Figure 2) and Abelmoschus esculentus (Bhindi) after 25 days (Figure 3). Parameters such as plant height, shoot length and root length, number of leaves, and leaf length and breadth were observed in the experimental and control plants. It is clear from the results (Tables 2 and 3) that plant height of Methi increased with increase in concentration of cow urine and duration of time. Maximum plant height of Methi was 14.30 ± 0.40 cm with maximum concentration, that is, 5% of cow urine. Plant height of Bhindi plants consistently increased to a maximum of 13.97 ± 0.50 cm in the plants treated with 5% concentration of cow urine; this was followed by the 12.03 ± 0.42 cm in 4% concentration of cow urine. The mean height of Methi plants was 9.00 ± 0.46 cm in control plants. Shoot length of Methi was 7.27 ± 0.25, 7.97 ± 0.25, 9.17 ± 0.31, 9.67 ± 0.25, and 10 ± 0.20 cm when sprayed with 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5% concentration of cow urine, respectively. Shoot length in control pot was 6.8 ± 0.30 cm. Maximum shoot length and root length of Bhindi plants were 7.83 ± 0.15 and 6.20 ± 0.36 cm with the plants sprayed with 5% concentration of cow urine followed by 4% concentration.

Table 2 Effect of cow urine on exomorphological characters of Trigonella foenum-graecum (Methi) by pot culture experiment after 25 days. Table 3 Effect of cow urine on exomorphological characters of Abelmoschus esculentus (Bhindi) by pot culture experiment after 25 days.
Figure 2 Effect of different concentrations (1%, 2%, 3%, 4%, and 5%) of cow urine on Trigonella foenum-graecum (Methi) after 25 days.
Figure 3 Effect of different concentrations (1%, 2%, 3%, 4%, and 5%) of cow urine on Abelmoschus esculentus (Bhindi) after 25 days.

The root length of Methi was maximum 4.13 ± 0.35 cm with maximum concentration (5%) of cow urine. However, root length increased in all the experimental plants as compared to control. Increase in root length supports the fact that the application of cow urine influences growth by increasing the mitotic index.

Table 4 Protein estimation of Trigonella foenum-graecum (Methi) and Abelmoschus esculentus (Bhindi) sprayed with different concentrations of cow urine. Table 5 Carbohydrate estimation of Trigonella foenum-graecum (Methi) and Abelmoschus esculentus (Bhindi) sprayed with different concentrations of cow urine.

The chlorophyll content of Methi and Bhindi (Okra) is shown in Table 6. The total chlorophyll content of Trigonella foenum-graecum (Methi) was recorded more in plant leaves irrigated with 5% cow urine. It had  mg/g of chlorophyll a,  mg/g of chlorophyll b, and mg/g of total chlorophyll. Control plants had mg/g of total chlorophyll. The total chlorophyll content in Abelmoschus esculentus (Bhindi) leaves was maximum with 5% cow urine irrigation ( mg/g) followed by 4% ( mg/g), 3% ( mg/g), 2% ( mg/g), and 1% ( mg/g). The control of Bhindi plants had  mg/g of chlorophyll a,  mg/g of chlorophyll b, and  mg/g of total chlorophyll.

Table 6 Chlorophyll estimation of Trigonella foenum-graecum (Methi) and Abelmoschus esculentus (Bhindi) sprayed with different concentrations of cow urine.

4. Discussion

This study revealed that the cow urine at different concentrations had considerable effect on the vegetative growth of R. stolonifer, Sclerotium rolfsii, and F. oxysporum. It is clear from the results that 15 percent concentration of cow urine showed maximum inhibition in growth of all the three fungal pathogens as compared to control. Inhibitory activity of cow urine against fungal pathogens have been reported by different workers . Pot culture studies revealed that increase in cow urine concentrations increased the performance of all phenotypic characters of Methi and Bhindi. Present studies are in accordance with the findings of Oliveira et al. 2009 who reported that the increase in cow urine concentrations increased the performance of all lettuce characteristics like fresh and dry leaf mass, fresh and dry stem mass, stem length, fresh root mass, fresh head mass, and commercial yield. The work of Tharmaraj, 2011, reported that growth substances in panchagavya help to bring rapid changes in phenotypes of plants and also improve the growth and productivity. The protein and carbohydrate content found in seedlings sprayed with cow urine was more irrespective of the concentration as compared to the control. The biochemical contents (carbohydrates, protein, and amino acids) in Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench and Vigna mungo increased with 3% concentration of panchagavya spray . It is evident from the results that the chlorophyll content of Methi and Bhindi plants increased with increase in concentration of cow urine. Similar findings with panchagavya spray were observed in Arachis hypogaea and Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench .

5. Conclusion

It was revealed from the study that cow urine caused inhibition in growth of all the three fungal pathogens used in the present studies. This demonstrated fungitoxic potential of cow urine against the three pathogenic fungi. The biochemical contents of both the plants increased when sprayed with cow urine. Therefore the use of cow urine provides better alternative to synthetic chemicals which are expensive and pose potential danger to the farmers, marketers, consumers, and environment. The cow urine can be used as biopesticide.

Conflict of Interests

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.

Acknowledgment

Authors are thankful to Department of Microbiology, Shoolini Institute of Life Sciences and Business Management, for offering facilities to carry out this work.

Composting toilets are a great thing. They take what has become a problem in modern systems—human excrement—and make it into something useful: rich compost. Despite simple and effective ways of making composting toilets, humanure does still bring about some controversy with those who are worried about pathogens. Confident composters won’t hesitate to put a well-rotted humanure compost in vegetable gardens, whereas less trusting composters opt for applying it to fruit trees. The important thing about either type of composter, however, is that we start making the most of cycling the waste rather than contaminating our water sources.

With all of that said, urine is a completely different excretion, one that really doesn’t need to set off the same alarm bells. Most basic composting toilets are anti-urine, concerned about the high moisture levels, though some argue this needn’t be the case, that the moisture is actually good for the thunderbox. Nevertheless, the idea remains that urine is something else we should be thinking about. Unlike solid waste, urine applied to gardens doesn’t come with the risk of pathogens; rather, it is just, some would say, pure gold. In fact, it can be used in many different ways for boosting production.

Make Wee for the Garden?

Urine Bucket (Courtesy of SuSanA Secretariat)

Urine is very high in nitrogen, so much so that it should be diluted a minimum ratio of 1:10 with water before being used on plants. The wee of one person is said to be rich enough to fertilize a tenth of an acre of vegetable garden for the year. Once diluted the micturition mixture, or tinkle tincture if you like, should be applied within twenty-four hours of the urine being expelled. Older urine can become a bacterial issue, and a smelly one at that. The mxiture can be sprinkled on the soil, around the plants, or used as a foliar spray. The boost in nitrogen should also liven up the mulch and soil life beneath.

Formulating Fertilizers?

Urine Trials (Courtesy of SuSanA Secretariat)

To get a little more technical, urine is mostly water with trace minerals and vitamins dissolved into it. That accounts for over 90% of what we are peeing. Much of the remaining percentage is perhaps a bit more interesting, as it is an organic compound called urea. Urea is wicked high in nitrogen. Synthetic urea has come to occupy the largest space in chemical fertilizers. Of course, our healthy bodies produce a cleaner, organic version, and it’s of such high quality we have to dilute it in order not to burn our plants.

Another option, one that might have a bit more lasting power than a foliar spray is mixing urine with ashes. Urine is high in nitrogen, as well as potassium and phosphorus (that’s NPK), while ashes fill in missing trace elements, such as calcium and magnesium. This combination actually has a lot of research proving its effectiveness, and it outperforms commercial fertilizers. Seeing as both of these components are readily available on homesteads, it’s only sensible to combine their powers and grow some tomatoes.

Stoking Up the Compost?

Pee Bale (Courtesy of FALTAZI STUDIO)

There are many ways to fire up a slow-burning compost. Aerating (turning the compost), adding volume (a cubic meter is about the minimum), and maintaining moisture levels (like a damp sponge) are all classic ways of doing this. In permaculture, we are fans of adding comfrey leaves or tossing in some road kill. We also know that our nitrogen elements are the fuel that drives the decomposition of carbon materials, and that’s where pee can start to help.

Urine, too, is a great compost stimulator. Obviously, the stiff shot of nitrogen and a bit of moisture both help, and the uric acid (urea) is also very beneficial. Uric acid levels are said to be the highest in the morning, so that’s the best time to rain down on the compost pile. Another popular method for composting with urine is creating a ‘pee bale’, which is used for a while and then added to the compost. This is a pretty clever way of collecting the pee without having to walk out to the compost heap or deal with chamber pots.

Torch the Weeds?

When urine is diluted, it’s aces for helping the garden thrive; however, in its pure form, the stuff is just far too potent for little plants to deal with. This is why a spot that gets peed on repeatedly, as the ground beneath a fire hydrant, will often turn yellow and die. There’s just so much nitrogen and acid that the plants burn out. Knowing this, if there is a particularly problematic spot with weeds, it possible to use 100% urine to try to get rid of the issue. Of course, if done without regard to the weather forecast, a rain could dilute it, and the plan might backfire and encourage the weeds to grow.

Defeat the Fungal Diseases?

Fungal Leafspot (Courtesy of Scot Nelson)

Urine, oddly enough, can be used to help clean things up. For plants that struggle with fungal disease or mildews, a bit of diluted pee (1 part urine to 2 parts water) can make an effective foliar spray. Similarly, legend has it—and this widely disputed—that urine can be and has been used to help with curing human fungal problems, like athlete’s foot.

Fresh urine is known to be a great sterilizer and has been used medicinally for centuries. It has been applied topically to treat rashes, stings, burns, and sores. Fresh urine has been used to sterilize areas, especially on battlefields, because it is far safer than using water. Some doctors have even recommended that patients drink their own urine—moderately, of course—for health purposes. I’ll leave those recommendations to the professionals.

Marking Territory?

Deer in the Garden (Courtesy of bagsgroove)

Some claim that early morning urine from a male is effective for keeping animals out of the garden. Early morning urine is the most pungent, and male urine has specific hormones that help with the repelling. Apparently, deer, rabbits, groundhogs, and skunks all detest the smell of masculine, half-asleep human urine.

There are many options to try out. Urine can be collected in a spray bottle and diluted, and that solution can be applied directly to plants that are being eaten. Stronger urine can be poured around the perimeter of the garden. And, yet another option is to soak something, perhaps a cotton ball or a bit of the old “pee bale”, and put that around the garden. Whichever method one chooses, it’ll be necessary to reapply the urine after a rain or watering.

Whatever we find ourselves doing with our pee, the main point of it all is that we really should use it in some way. Urine is not something to be flushed away like a problem. It’s a solution. Whereas composting toilets might be difficult for folks in densely urban areas, using pee rather than flushing it poses no health risk and is easy to do. It’s actually an amazing commodity for those willing to take advantage of it. Plus, it’s a great excuse to have another beer.

Feature Photo: Urine (Courtesy of Ajay Tallam)

What if there were a way to avoid chemical fertilizers on gardens, pastures, and orchards? What if that way involved a fertilizer that conserved water, was easily accessible to every single human on this planet, and was absolutely free? The use of this substance is also scientifically backed* as a means to increase production. If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am speaking of using human urine as fertilizer.

Before the “eww!” factor comes into play, let me explain a few things. Feces is the offending element of human waste that is considered unsafe due to bacteria. Human urine is full of nutrients your soil needs. From nitrogen to phosphorous it is a wonderful source of nutrients big and small.

Is urine sterile?

According to this study:

In our previously reported study (4), we used 16S rRNA gene sequencing to demonstrate evidence of uncultivated bacteria in the adult female bladder and we questioned the “sterile urine” dogma. Our current study demonstrates that urine contains communities of living bacteria that comprise a resident female urine microbiota.

So, no. urine is not actually sterile, but it is safe to use as fertilizer in your garden.

Urine as fertilizer: Statistically proven to increase yields

This age-old fertilization practice has been brought back by many looking to harness all of the resources close to them in order to lessen their environmental impact. This has led to research on the practice of applying human urine as fertilizer.

One such study involved smallholders in Uganda and the application of urine at two different concentrations in comparison to a controlled plot. The evidence was clear: “Compared to the control plot, all treatments show a statistically significant difference in yield.”. How much is “statistically significant”? The plot with the optimum urine volume application led to a two-fold production rate of maize over the control plot.

That is significant.

Urine as fertilizer – applying it safely

Safety is, of course, of the utmost concern in fertilizing with human urine, just as it is with animal manure application to improve soil. While urine is considered sterile, there are rare occurrences of bacterial infection that can contribute to bacterial problems around your plants. The solution is simple. If it’s possible that the donor could have a bladder or urinary tract infection, do not take their samples for your garden, field, or orchard.

Along the same lines, the question of how fresh should the urine be is also of utmost importance. In this study human urine was collected and stored in covered containers in the donors’ homes for two weeks in order to protect against pathogens. There is a wide range of opinions on how fresh the urine should be but allowing the urine to sit for a couple of weeks seems the safest of all of the approaches.

The other factor to keep in mind is where to apply this homegrown fertilizer. When using urine as fertilizer, it is generally accepted that applying it to the soil away from the leaves of the plants is preferable. Urine is not applied as a foliar spray, as many organic fertilizers often are, but rather directly to the soil near the base of the plants.

The Ugandan study used the following method: “The urine was applied close to the ground in furrows along the plant rows, which were immediately covered with soil. Besides preventing ammonia losses, this practice helps to reduce the smell and avoid burning crop leaves.” (Kirchmann and Pettersson, 1995)

How much is enough/too much?

The final consideration – and it is an important one – is what volume of urine should be applied to the crops and how much should it be diluted? What is interesting about the Ugandan study is that they cited the urine application as direct and undiluted. Nearly every source out there will tell you that you need to dilute the urine with water at a 10:1 water to urine ratio. And that is what we have historically practiced in our own gardens and orchards.

However, direct application of urine as fertilizer seems to have worked well in a larger field setting where maize – known as corn in the United States – was grown. With no sprawling vines or low-lying leaves, you can see how this application is quite different than a small homestead garden. I think the lesson here is that you don’t want the urine to directly contact the plant at full concentration. If you are doing diverse crops with low-lying foliage, dilution may be your best bet to prevent any type of damage to the plant.

How we collect our urine for fertilizer

The simplest method that we implement on our homestead is to place a bucket outdoors, behind a cove of trees. While the men in the family are working out on the land, this is their designated bathroom spot. Depending on how many bucket-fillers you have in your family, you can harvest a half-bucket full every week or so. Set this aside for garden fertilization.

As I share in my book, The Doable Off Grid Homestead, if you are implementing a bucket system or outhouse:

You can design toilet systems that both men and women can use to help divert the urine into a separate container for use on the homestead. Look online for a little piece of equipment called a urine diverter. It is installed into the box of the composting toilet and can be piped to a removable container that can then be poured off for fertigation.

*Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652614000948

If you can get over the ewwww factor, pee-cycling your own urine into the garden makes good sense. Fresh urine is high in nitrogen, moderate in phosphorus and low in potassium and can act as an excellent high-nitrogen liquid fertilizer or as a compost accelerator.

Components of Urine

The exact breakdown of urine varies depending on the diet of the pee-maker. The more protein a person consumes, the more nitrogen will be excreted into the urine. Typical Western Diet pee has an NPK ratio of about 11-1-2. In comparison, blood meal is 12-2-1 and cottonseed meal is 7-2-2.

Urine also contains salt – sometimes quite a lot of it if you are hopped up on a diet of canned soup and french fries. Because of both the salt and high nitrogen levels, urine should generally be diluted 10:1 before use on garden crops. Greater dilution – 20:1 or more – is appropriate for more tender plants, seedlings and potted plants which are more susceptible to salt build up.

Keep in mind that areas with a lot of rain (Seattle!) tend to leach salts out of the soil, so salt build up is something gardeners in arid climates should be more concerned about.

Fresh pee can have a pH anywhere from 5 to 9 depending on a person’s diet, but it tends to move toward neutral as it ages and breaks down when applied outside. I would not personally worry too much about the variable pH of urine for garden use.

Safety Issues

In a healthy person, urine is sterile. In someone with decent hygiene and wiping technique, it should more-or-less stay that way as it leaves the body. Cross contamination with fecal matter (health risk!) can be a concern, so perfect your front-to-back TP technique if you are going to pee-cycle.

If you are on medication, don’t fertilize with your pee. If you have a UTI or other infection or – well, let’s just say anything funky going on in or around your pee-hole – your urine is not fit for garden use.

Grossness Issues

Assuming the safety issues are satisfactorily addressed, then the grossness issue is cultural programing and you should think about if it’s programming you want to keep in your brain. Most gardeners, after all, are pleased as punch to get ahold of a big load of cow poop for their garden, and that fertilizer has a far greater chance of spreading harmful pathogens than pee.

Here’s a few other things to think about:

“Urine accounts for only 1% of the total volume of wastewater, but it contains up to 80% of all the nutrients.”
–Science Daily

A typical toilet flusher wastes “up to 22 liters of drinkable water every day, one three- to six-liter flush at a time. What follows…is the long and costly process of sanitizing the water that was clean before you answered nature’s call. Using so much water per flush unnecessarily increases the volume of our waste and the cost of its transportation and treatment, ecologists say….The process also leaves a huge carbon footprint.”
–Time Magazine

Basically, the environmental and financial cost to piss in a bunch of drinking-quality water and then process it back into drinking water is huge. Separating urine from solid waste – through direct pee-cycling or urine-separating toilets – could go a long way to offset this cost by reducing the burden on wastewater treatment programs.

If the tree-hugger eco stuff doesn’t move you to action, consider the cost of a bag of blood meal. Now consider the cost of your pee. You will never find a more easy-to-acquire, cheaper source of fast acting nitrogen.

Basic courtesy is to not apply urine to those parts of the plant that will be consumed (i.e., as a foliar feed for spinach). Even so, if pee-cycled fertilizer on food crops just grosses you out, consider using this resource on fruit trees, perennials, and ornamental plantings, including your nitrogen-lovin’ lawn, instead.

5 Ways To Use Pee In The Garden

Okay, I’ve convinced you! You are ready to drop trou’ and add your liquid gold deposit to your garden. But how do you pee in the garden in the most effective way (and without getting arrested for indecent exposure in the process!)?

1. Compost Accelerator
Is your compost pile cold? A little long on carbon and low on nitrogen? Pee, poured or – ahem – directly deposited – on the pile can start to speed things up and add moisture. If you are nervous about using urine directly on your plants, incorporating urine into a compost pile is the way to go.

2. Dilution is The Solution
Dilute fresh urine at a 4:1 ratio and apply to the root-zone of corn every two weeks or as needed. (Some people say corn, being a grass, can handle fertilization with straight urine. Proceed with caution.)
Dilute fresh urine at a 10:1 ratio and apply to the root-zone of fruiting plants like tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, or to leafy crops like cabbage, broccoli, spinach and lettuce every two weeks or as needed.
Dilute fresh urine at a 20:1 ratio and water in to the root zone of seedlings and new transplants.

3. The Straw Bale Sprinkle
When Straw Bales are used for gardening, they must be “conditioned” or partially broken down / composted before use. This is accomplished with the addition of a very high nitrogen fertilizer. Guess which free, Bud Lite-hued high-nitrogen fertilizer I’d recommend?

4. Deep Mulch Direct Application
If you thickly mulch your woody perennials, cane fruit and fruit trees with a high-carbon material like leaves or woodchips, you can apply your urine straight onto the mulch, which will absorb and moderate the straight shot of nitrogen in your pee.

5. That Asparagus Smell!
If asparagus makes your pee smell funny, take revenge and pee on your asparagus! Nutrient hungry, deep rooted, perennial and salt-tolerant, asparagus might be the ideal crop to fertilize with pee. If you grow your asparagus under a thick layer of carbonaceous mulch, like straw or wood chips, use the Direct Mulch Direct Application technique, otherwise dilute 2:1 if your asparagus is in the sandy soil it prefers, or 4:1 in heavier soil. Apply throughout the growing season, along with a good source of potassium, like bone meal, in the early spring.

Pee-cycling Sexism

So Adam and Eve are standing in the Garden of Eden right after the Creation and God is handing out the last of the talents, qualities and features he has for each of them. He reaches into his bag and pulls out a slip of paper.

“Ability to Pee Standing Up,” booms God. “Okay, who wants this one?”

“Oh, pick me!” yells Adam, “Pick me! Peeing while standing up sounds like such a very male thing to do, God. I really think that one has to go to me. Sorry Eve, but I really think I need this one.”

God looks at Eve, who just shrugs. “Sure, if it’s that important to him, give Adam the peeing thing. I don’t really care.”

God hands Adam the slip of paper and says, “Forevermore, Adam, by your choice shall men be endowed with the ability to pee whilst standing.”

Adam grins and God reaches to the very bottom of his bag. “Just one more, and I guess since Adam got Peeing While Standing Up, this last one goes to you, eh, Eve? Let’s see…”

God unfolds his final slip of paper. “Okay, here you go Eve: Multiple Orgasms is all yours.”

{ba-dum-bum}

It is a fact of life that men are better equipped to pee all over things. If you are a male gardener, combine your skills and start marking your veg territory with pride. The Deep Mulch Direct Application method will be simplest if you want to water directly from the hose, so to speak.

Ladies, I highly recommend you use Adam’s gift to all men to your advantage, too. Got a husband? Boyfriend? Better yet, a son or two? Give them carte blanche permission to pee on the compost pile. Direct that natural ability (and, dare I say, inclination) for outdoor pee marksmanship towards something good for your garden.

But don’t let the guys have all the fun. You’ll notice that most of the techniques for applying urine as a fertilizer call for dilution anyway, which means a watering can or container is going to be involved. Most women with regular access to lady-specific medical care have had plenty of practice peeing in cups – put that experience to use, for the good of your garden.

Do you already pee on the compost, or does the very idea of pee-cycling leave you pissed!?

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Using Urine Fertilizerfor the Garden

Urine fertilizer primarily provides nitrogen. How much nitrogen does a garden need? According to the state of Illinois, here is the amount of nitrogen needed by the following plants:

  • Asparagus: 300 pounds N per acre per year
  • Beets: 100 pounds N, 60 pounds Phos, 85 pounds Potassium
  • Broccoli: 200 pounds N per acre per year
  • Cabbage: 100 pounds N per acre per year.
  • Carrots: 100 pounds N per acre per year
  • Cauliflower: 200 pounds N per acre per year
  • Cucumbers: 35 pounds N per acre per week

  • Green peppers: 130 pounds N per acre per year. Too much can cause blossom end rot
  • Pumpkin: 60 to 100 pounds N per acre per year
  • Radishes: 50 pounds N., 100 pounds Phos, 100 pounds Potassium per acre per year
  • Sweet potatoes: 110 pounds N, 200 – 250 pounds potash per acre per year
  • Tomatoes: 150 to 200 pounds N per acre per year. Too much causes blossom end rot.
  • Watermelon: 150 pounds N per acre per year. Too much causes blossom end rot.
  • Zucchini: 100 pounds N per acre per year

Click here for a list that covers more crops. The numbers above are for commercial growers who use chemical fertilizers. Since I use organic methods, I don’t need nearly this much supplementary nitrogen. However, at least this list shows which plants require more nitrogen and which require less.

A Unique Fertilizing Technique

Here’s a great way to use urine fertilizer in the garden. Mulching items such as mulched leaves or wood chips are rich in carbon and contain phosphorus and potassium, but very little nitrogen. Mulches need nitrogen to help break them down. When mulches are combined with nitrogen, they provide the major nutrients for my garden. So here is what I like to do.

Planting through mulch

First, to help suppress weeds, I spread a single layer of non-glossy newspaper over the ground (which I didn’t do in the picture). Next, I add mulch to a depth of 4 inches. Then I use my little gardening shovel to move the mulch aside, punch a hole through the newspaper, and make a shallow hole in the soil. Next, I sow or transplant into the dirt. I don’t move the mulch back against the plant until the plant grows above it.

Mulch complements the nitrogen in urine

Once I have planted, I like to apply humic acids and sea minerals over the top. The humic acids help with germination, and help to break down the salts in my urine fertilizer. They also cause the mulch to begin decomposing, which releases phosphorus and potassium to my garden. The sea minerals provide needed trace minerals An ounce of humic acid and a teaspoon of concentrated sea minerals, diluted with water, treats about 200 square feet of mulched garden.

Next, I put some of my day’s urine fertilizer into my watering can, fill it with water, and use it to water the mulch. The mulch helps to protect the roots from the high nitrogen content of the urine, and the urine provides nitrogen needed to slowly compost the mulch right in my garden.

How much urine fertilizer does my garden need?

As a ballpark figure, a liter of urine will treat 350 square feet of garden space (4′ x 88′) if done weekly over 7 months. By the end of 7 months, you will have applied 100 pounds of nitrogen per acre.

Increase or decrease application according to individual plant needs, as listed above. More urine may be applied when plants are in the growth stage, and less when they are putting on fruit. Use more for plants such as cucumbers, squash, tomatoes and corn that need more nitrogen to put on fruit. Use whatever urine is left over to fertilize bushes, trees or lawn.

If leaves are yellow or pale green, they probably need more nitrogen. Too much nitrogen can cause plants to produce a lot of leaves but bear little fruit. It can also cause leaves to curl, and make plants more prone to insect attack. Please visit my home page, Healthy Vegetable Gardening. Happy gardening!

(Return from Urine Fertilizer to Organic Vegetable Garden)

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