Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

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!

Views: 2029

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Not many folks in Oz have Hepatitis but I'd worry about e-coli.  

E-coli afaik only inhabit solid waste ;-) Hepatitis, dunno how it is transmitted but I got it at age 13 (it wasn't an auspicious year).

That's right:given all the manure-ing options fresh urine is pretty much benign. In normal circumstances it arrives on tap clean, although not actually sterile as it picks up bits of this and that in the urethra on the way out. Truly symptomatic infected urine is a rare occurrence..and primarily that would be from UTIs or related to chronic conditions.

Compare that to cow, horse or chicken manures or any of those composted or indeed any handful of compost or spade full of soil. You can never assume that compost is 'safe' unless you have reached the required high temperatures for x amount of time every time you make it for every gram of it.

On top of that the urine is home grown -- so you surely trust the source as you should know the provider intimately. When urine smells, it's not fetidity  of festering infection, so much as the production of ammonia from the urea content. Although the older the urine, the more prone it would be to culturing bugs.

However Hepatitis B can/could be transmitted in urine as it is transmitted by direct contact with the blood or body fluids of an infected person and Hepatitis B virus can survive outside the body for a week...but thereafter it needs a host to survive in (and that aint dirt.)The Hepatitis C virus can survive outside the body at room temperature, on environmental surfaces, for at least 16 hours but no longer than 4 days.(SOURCE)

The hepatitis A virus, or HAV, is relatively hardy. In good conditions, it can survive outside the body for months. HAV can survive certain acids and some heat. For a period of time and under certain conditions, HAV can survive in sea water, dried feces and live oysters.{SOURCE}

 Hep A  - the frozen berries virus--can also survive refrigeration and freezing for up to two years and it is resistant to acid (pH 1 for 2 hours at room temperature)....so I'd think urine would be the least of  our infection problems.

This WHO article may be worthy of study:Urine diversion – hygienic risks and microbial guidelines for reuse.  The review considers urine in the context of its collection and use: 

The risk for transmission of infectious diseases in relation to diverted human urine is largely dependent on the cross-contamination by faeces. ƒ Human urine does not generally contain pathogens that will be transmitted through the environment

Get that from poop not urine. Just don't go the whole hog with the recycling of human waste thing.

It's why I won't eat "Vietnamese Poo Fish" or Basa.

Shouldn't be sold here end of story ,Mathew Evans did a seafood doco and those fish ponds were simply disgusting.

Leaving aside that they are soft tasteless fish where the batter has more flavour and texture than the fish. Some places go one step further and call it 'Royal Basa'. FFS.

I'm glad you said that Elaine.  I was going to say, I don't care what they eat because they taste like glue. 

I only buy Australian fish, maybe N.Z. .... but I've noticed that the choices available are getting less, sometimes the only thing available aussie are the farmed Barra, or Tassie Salmon...unless you go to a fish market...

I could demonstrate a whole new version of that "Thunder Down Under" bucket.  LOL. 

So long as the product is limited to personal, backyard-type application, I think you can be reasonably comfortable with the safety.

I'm curious about what effects medications may have on the product. Much like other fertilisers, isn't it possible for medications or their by-products to make their way through the production line and into the soil? Would some of these chemicals have an adverse effect on plants or soil life? Which ones are okay and which ones should we avoid passing along? As we age, we tend to end up taking a concoction of things that might be necessary for us, but might not be good for the soil or plants.

That's correct jan ,if on some drugs of some sort, antibiotics ,or some other prescription type drugs it wouldn't be wise.Not meaning to change the subject but its also another perfect reason not to buy any foodstuffs from china root crops especially just the thought yuk.If they are not checking their produce  they would certainly not be checking the poop quality for all these pharmaceuticals,heavy metals etc.God only knows how this Chinese garlic is allowed here.

Any pharmaceuticals in urine -- research indicates -- are in very minute quantities but academic research on the subject of broad scale use is attending to that issue. 

A German study from  the sustainable sanitation alliance concludes:

Moreover, research carried out so far shows that the expected concentrations of pharmaceutical residues in average urine do not reach concentration levels which affect plant growth and development. This finding can be supported by the fact that the load of hormones and antibiotics in human urine are much lower than in animal manure which is already used in agriculture.

I got into urine farming (!) after researching the uses of animal manures in my garden context.While there is a difference in the delivery media -- as manures also carry ecology broader than N:P:K and other chemicals-- human urine ticks a lot of boxes. 

It also has a limited downside:

  • handling and odour
  • very slight chance of pathogen content 

But then pathogens die and chemicals break down. In the Swedish manual I referred to (somewhere in this thread)the researchers recommend, like manures, a one month window between final application and harvest. The difference is, I suggest, that you can trust your own pee more than Daisy the cow's poo.

A key aspect is that you don't apply urine to foliage and you'd assume that all root vegetables are washed before eating and cooking. Often, they are also peeled -- especially if they are roots or tubers.

I'm not a great raw veg eater -- but like the imported berries carrying Hepatitis -- you have to be a bit narky about any fruit or veg eaten raw. With salads, I always presume  that the vinegar acts as a disinfectant, whereas a mayonnaise seems an ideal medium  for nasties.

But then pathogens have to come from some where. Aside from the standard air born and earth bound salmonellas and such, there has to be infection pre dating the source. In this regard, soil, like the well managed compost heap, is on your side as the war between microbes and such is savage and relentless...and soil is a great, albeit very incomplete, 'sanitiser'.  

RSS

Important note about adding photos:

Always add photos using the "From my computer" option, even if you are on a mobile phone or other device.

Photos

  • Add Photos
  • View All

Videos

  • Add Videos
  • View All

Place your business add here! ($5 per month or $25 for 9 months)

Talk to Andy on 0422 022 961.  You can  Pay on this link

© 2021   Created by Andrew Cumberland.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service