There's a lot of info available online on the subject of human urine as fertiliser
This is a good introduction:
Aside from the associated water saving -- flushing less -- advantage, there is a scientific case that urine may be the answer to a looming global shortage of phosphorus, a key component in fertilisers.
Despite the 'yuk' factor, human urine is actually a relatively clean substance. It should be sterile when produced at the body factory. Compared to other sources of manure fertiliser -- cow, horse, sheep, chicken -- it carries much less chance of contamination by pathogens.
Indeed, in-house human urine -- rather than the other solid stuff -- is where most of the good nutrients are at.
The downside is the smell. However, if urine is diluted and spread on soil or mulch within 24 hours of its production, the odour issue won't register significantly in the process. Although some commercial system do -- the preferred domestic management approach rule should be don't store your urine: use it fresh.
In situations of drought or water restrictions, recycling urine can save a significant amount of water. Even low-flow toilets use approx 6 litres per flush (as opposed to 13.2 litres for the full) so that a visit to pee on average 5 times per day will use up a daily quotient of 30 litres of water.
After working as a nurse for many years, especially in geriatric facilities, urine doesn't scare me at all. I also recall the time before sewerage connections were installed in houses and folk relied on outback 'can' toilets and under bed 'potties' -- just like kids' toilet training hardware-- to get them through the night without en suites.
I've been experimenting. So far so good. While it takes some dedication to collect and distribute human urine -- production is easy -- compared to other exotic gardening activities, like making manure teas and composting, it has its efficacy merits.
Why bother with pee, you ask?
I think the core advantage with urine harvesting is that it can contribute to your water budget by reducing usage. It won't impact on your water bill much given the way the utilities currently charge, but each week you could be saving 300 litres of drinkable water from being flushed away. Scandinavians are building townships that recycle urine as a form of sustainable sewerage management.
Is the effort worth it for the plants?
Hypothetically you'll save on input costs as you won't be importing fertilisers.Aside from the phosphorus advantage, research is very supportive:
Indeed if you were feeling a bit low on any day and feeling a tad worthless as a human being , you can take heart from the fact that you could supply enough urine to fertilize roughly 6,300 tomato plants a year.
There's power in pee!
I'm all for using it in the garden and do so under cover of darkness nightly. I doubt I would ever store it in the house for use though - my daughter got upset about me processing seeds (allowing them to go good and mouldy in a bowl in the kitchen). Apparently I have a stronger stomach and less inhibitions than my offspring when it comes to this stuff.
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?
I was driving to Bribie the other morning and really felt like just pulling over for a quick pee at the side of the road. I didn't of course, just not acceptable and I would probably be arrested if caught, but the urge was there. When I'm old and demented I will probably lose all those inhibitions and pee where I like!
Is that your corn experiment in the pic Dave?
No. The pic is from Zimbabwe research.
I also looked up volume and frequency of application.
You don't spray it on the foliage of course.
Anecdotal evidence suggests daily or weekly in dilution. Other option : as needed. Let your plants do the talking, if a dark green then lay off a little, use a weaker solution and lower frequency, any yellowing, step up the strength a bit.
Since it is high in Nitrogen you need to factor that into your usage. I use heavy mulching so that is a protective barrier to impact. Urine older than 24 hours has more ammonia so the chances of burning are greater.
This is the best over review of the literature and research -- taken from Zimbabwe studies:EcosanRes. Many references. Makes you want to pee to save the planet. Among the indexed material I recommend:
Urine can be applied neat or diluted with water. There is no standard recommendation for dilution/ non-dilution and the existing recommendations vary depending on the local conditions. Levels of dilution can vary between 1:1 (1 part urine to 1 part water) and 1:15 (one part urine to fifteen parts water). Most common dilution ratios are 1:3 or 1:5. However urine should always be applied at the rate corresponding to the desired application rate of N, while additional water should be applied according to the water needs of the plants.
If you wonder whether it's worth the effort.... I can say that mixing and watering urine on the garden beds is an acquired taste. While the trick is how you collect it (and I'll leave that to your imagination , inventiveness and creativity) it is easy to make the process routine. But break your routine, and fall behind, and you will generate a strong smell of urea in your backyard area.
On a day to day basis, mixing 1-2 litres of urine with water in a 10 litre watering can is a practicable habit...and once mixed, even if you don't distribute the nectar, the chances of odour generation sharply decrease.
Or do a quick google search on "peeponics."
I refuse to comment further about my late night trips to the compost tea bin, or how well my fruit trees respond to that stuff. I'm just shocked that you people would consider such an "unacceptable?"/ "primative?"/ "Hippie?" way of living.
You realise, if all my fruit trees bear heaps next year, I will consider that "scientific proof"?! I still remember my Scottish grandfather saying, "Ye need tah pee on lemon, Lahdie" and my German grandmother saying, "Ich werde nicht draußen pinkeln" (I won't outside do the wee.)
Although using our waste make sense, it's not as simple for women as for men. Tough enough to provide a 'specimen' for pathology; we have a system for that. Too much mucking about for an everyday event.
What? Don't collect it in a bottle or anything like that Elaine. Just go outside and wee. If you want to be technical, then hose it in later. There's no need to aim, or redistribute. Just pick a different place to go each time.
Ah Andy - you've never been a woman and I've never been a man so we really don't have first-hand info on each others challenges in this area.
Urinal hardware: for those recycling times when sharing really is caring.
Collecting urine so that it goes where you want it to go is a medical standard. After years of trial and error, these designs do work.
The last item -- of which there are several manufacturers (eg Go Girl)-- is something that would make a great aid anyway, especially if travelling.
And for the camping-oriented woman, there's disposable and non-disposable doovas for those night-time visits when it's raining. The things you learn on the camping forum!
Since the female urinals don't seem to have lids, (and really you do want a lid if collecting) I think the PEZ design of which there are a few other manufacturers (for example) make a lot of practical recycling sense.
Now if I wanted to convince my wife to recycle, I'd promote these as the preferred tool. But really you don't need a whole lot of urine to make the garden grow. So making the best use of whatever you collect is better than drowning in the stuff.
Good info Dave. I will get hold of one of those handy little units.
One final point: urinating directly onto a garden bed isn't very efficient -- regardless of gender. It's ...wasteful.
When you collect you can mix and increase volume then spread the mix via a watering can, directing it where you want it to go in the volume you intend.
Unless you are just irrigating a compost heap or a lemon tree -- a large watering can is an ideal mixing device.
If the optimal application rate is not known, then the application of the urine from one person during a full day per square metre (approx 1.5 litres of urine/ m2, corresponding to 40-110 kg N/ha) and cropping season can be used as a rule of thumb. If there is a restriction in plot size, it is usually possible to increase the fertilization up to three or four times without any negative effects on crops or environment and even larger amounts can beneficially be applied if there is no or low risk of salinization. [p15]
As a rule of thumb, fertilization should stop after 2/3 to 3/4 of the time between sowing and harvest. Crops not entering the generative stage, e.g. lettuce, spinach, as well as roots and tubers, e.g. Irish potatoes and sweet potatoes continue to take up nutrients throughout their growth period. However, a waiting period of 1 month between fertilization and harvest is recommended from a hygiene point of view for all crops eaten raw [p17]
The figures in this table are for undiluted/full strength urine.