02 October 2015

Can Human Urine be used as a Fertilizer in your Organic Garden

Can you use Human Urine as Fertilizer? On today's episode I am going to take a look at one of the questions I have been asked a few times now. Can you use ...

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Hi. I'm Stephen with AlbertaUrbanGarden.ca On this month's installment of the Testing Garden Assumptions series I'm going to address a question that I have been asked a number of times. Can human urine be used as a fertilizer in your vegetable garden? From the dawn of agriculture and the domestication of animals, we have been using other animals' manures and urine in agriculture as a means to return essential nutrients to the soil, allowing increase crop yields later. So today's hypothesis is that human urine can be used as a fertilizer in your garden. In order to investigate this we need to know what fertilizer potential urine has, and if its use in the garden poses a risk to human health. Urine is a waste-stream generated by the filtering of your blood through your kidneys. It's characteristically high in nitrogen and other water soluble elements that are found in your body. A 2005 study from Goteborg University in Sweden assessed the recycling of nutrients excreted in urine from urban areas as a method of ecologically sustainable development. They found that straight urine had an NPK of 18-2-5, while urine flushed with water has an NPK of 15-1-3. The study went on to find macro and micro elements essential for plant growth. Urine can have a PH ranging between from 4.6 and 8.0 However, our garden soil usually has enough buffering capacity to avoid any permanent changes to the PH if applied directly. So there is research to suggest that urine has value as a fertilizer and is unlikely to change the PH in your soil. So the next thing that we need to investigate is whether or not using urine in your garden is safe. In order for us to understand if urine is safe to use in the garden, we need to know if it contains anything that,

if we come in contact with it may be harmful. The first thing that comes to mind is bacteria. A December 2013 paper in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology found that there are bacteria in urine. However most of the varieties do not commonly cause illness. They are generally the same varieties of bacteria that live on most people's skin. Next let's take a look at diseases like HIV and Hepatitis. According to US and Canadian Government sources diseases like HIV and Hepatitis have not been shown to spread through urine with harmless bacteria a little risk of major communicable diseases coming through human urine. Let's take a look at drugs. Drugs do show up in urine as either the byproduct or surplus are eliminated from the body. For this reason I would be very hesitant to recommend this practice in the garden if you are taking any regular medications. If you would like to implement this and you are taking regular medications I recommend speaking to a health care professional first. Human urine does have a fertilizer potential and has a low chance of carrying infectious agents. So it would seem that today's hypothesis is supported by the research that's out there. This shouldn't be a surprise because it's basically the same thing as aquaponics simply swapping out fish for humans. The practice of using urine in the garden not only turns a waste product into something that is valuable but it saves drinking water that would otherwise be flushed and have to be processed using non-renewable resources. The fertilizer benefits can also help save money as it can help supplement other free and local resources

or even better yet - help replace store-bought products altogether. Because there is a slight risk of bacterial colonization if you are looking to implement this in your garden I would recommend adding the urine to a compost pile. The heating cycle will eliminate any bacteria that may have been introduced. The nitrogen and water content will help the pile heat up and the additional nutrients will make the finished compost better. Should you wish to apply it directly to your garden soil under your plants it is general recommenced to dilute the urine The high nitrogen content may burn the roots harming your plants. This can be seen most commonly in the dead spots caused by dog urine. Last month's Testing Garden Assumptions series video We evaluated the use of wood ash in the garden The only downside to using wood-ash in the garden is its very high PH and lack of nitrogen. If you combine it with human urine's very low PH these two free resources can be combined to create your own organic fertilizer. Researchers in Finland were able to demonstrate on tomato crops that the urine and wood-ash fertilizer performed similarly to commercial synthetic fertilizers. Further, the urine and wood-ash fertilizer produced 4.2 times tomatoes when compared to a control that had no fertilizer. There are some very positive benefits to this method in the developing world. Often economic conditions make it difficult for people to afford commercial products In most cases both urine and wood-ash are available and if used as a fertilizer local food production benefits This is especially true in areas like India and Africa where synthetic fertilizer based practices and water shortages have left an industry in decline while the population continues to grow. if you are going to use this method in the garden

I recommend talking to and getting the approval of the people who frequent and use the produce from your garden. In the Testing Garden Assumptions series We put products, processes and methods to the test. If you have missed any and would like to catch up Please make sure to click on the play-list that's on the screen now. Thank you very much for joining me today I appreciate it very much. and I hope you have a fantastic day.