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Is Human Urine Really an Effective Agricultural Fertilizer?

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Health Issues page and our Appetite For a Change page.

Farmers looking for a natural way to fertilize their crops may need to look no further than human urine, which is naturally rich in nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus - the same ingredients in conventional fertilizers.

Although the use of urine as fertilizer is rare (though not unheard of) today, it has actually been used as fertilizer since ancient times, and new research suggests it may be wise to bring this ancient tradition back.

Beets Fertilized With Urine Grew 27 Percent Larger

In one experiment, researchers compared beets grown in four different ways: one with conventional mineral fertilizer, another with urine, a third with urine and wood ash, and a final control group grown with no fertilizer.

The beets fertilized with urine were 10 percent larger, and those fertilized with urine/ash were 27 percent larger than those grown in mineral fertilizer. As for nutrient content, all the beets were similar, and in a blind taste test the beets were rated as equally flavorful.

The researchers concluded that urine is a perfectly viable source of fertilizer, and one that is readily available and sustainable (the average American urinates 500 liters a year):

"urine with or without ash can increase the yield of red beet and furthermore the microbial quality and chemical quality were similar to the situation in mineral-fertilized products."         

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