Tag Archives: urine

Urine is fertilizing crops and saving money in India

Urine is fertilizing crops and saving money in India, by Robert Goodier, Engineering for Change, May 2011.

Consider these facts about urine: Adults produce about four to eight cups (one to two liters) per day, it’s a reservoir of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, the same elements that nourish crops; and it’s cheap to make.

That’s the kind of information that Sridevi Govindaraj, an Indian agriculture expert, had in mind when she proposed that dousing fields with urine could improve sanitation and boost farmers’ incomes.

“Human urine is indeed not an unwanted waste, but it is a useful resource,” Sridevi wrote to E4C.

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South Africa: in Durban it pays to pee

A new initiative in South Africa is testing practical, community-scale ways to use urine as a fertiliser. The initiative is part of new project funded by the Gates Foundation.

Urine-diverting dry toilet in Umlazi, near Durban. Photo: Eawag

After installing about 90 000 urine-diversion toilets in home gardens, the port city of Durban now wants to install 20-litre (quart) containers on 500 of the toilets to capture urine, which can be turned into fertiliser.

Although a news item about the initiative claimed that the municipality would be paying households about around R30 (US$ 4.40) for a week’s supply of urine, the project coordinator Bastian Etter from Eawag, says that this is “an invention of a journalist of Agence France Presse (AFP) and not the strategy of the eThekwini Municipality”. “Neither the eThekwini Municipality nor our research team has set up a compensation scheme for collected urine”, Mr. Etter said in an e-mail.

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Tomatoes thrive on urine diet

Using human urine as a fertiliser produces bumper crops of tomatoes that are safe to eat, scientists have found.

Their research was published in August 2009 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Surendra Pradhan, an environmental biology researcher at the University of Kuopio, Finland, and colleagues gave potted tomato plants one of three treatments: mineral fertiliser, urine and wood ash, urine only, and no fertiliser. Urine is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

Yields for plants fertilised with urine quadrupled and matched those of mineral-fertilised plants. The urine-fertilised tomatoes also contained more protein and were safe for human consumption.

Pradhan says that the method is a free alternative to expensive mineral fertiliser, which is also not easily available in remote or hilly areas. Pradhan also believes that the idea could improve sanitation by incentivising toilet-building.

A pilot programme based on the research will be launched in Nepal in November [2009] , says Pradhan.

But Håkan Jönsson, eco-agriculture and sanitation system technology expert at the Stockholm Environment Institute in Sweden, told SciDev.Net: “The amount [of urine] that can be collected from a person or a family is fairly small (equivalent to about two bags of fertiliser per year for a west African family).[The technique] is of great value to a subsistence farmer but does not suffice for even a medium-scale cash-crop farm.”

He adds that to fertilise larger areas, many urine-diverting toilets would have to be linked up to a good transportation system.

There are also cultural issues. In most cultures, Jönsson says, faeces are considered impure and urine is viewed in a similar way, even though the hygiene risk associated with it is minimal.

Pradhan says that studies will be done to assess how acceptable the idea is in different cultures. His team will also investigate ways of decontaminating any faecal matter in urine collected from a toilet using a jerry can.

He adds: “For large-scale implementation of this idea, we are trying to find different methods to reduce the volume of the urine in economic way, without losing the nutrients”.

Link to full article in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry [750kb]

Source: Wagdy Sawahel, SciDev.net, 09 Sep 2009

Grant: IFAD supports the linkages between sanitation and agriculture

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has awarded a grant to CREPA and SEI to manage a project entitled “Testing a nutrient recycling system (Productive Sanitation Systems) in Niger with a view to measuring its potential for improving agricultural productivity”.

In the context of the soaring world fertilizer prices, the ca. billion poor smallholder farmers in the world have to use alternative solutions to produce affordable nutrients which can sustain agricultural food production. A new paradigm in agriculture is in the making linking it to sanitation systems using e.g. urine source-separation, collection and reuse as a chemical fertilizer. IFAD has the interest to test this Productive Sanitation System (PSS) to improve the situation for poor smallholder farmers by providing access to safe human-generated fertilizer for crops.

This pilot project will be integrated into the PPILDA project in the Maradi region (South Niger) to address specifically the improvement of low soil fertility in optimizing nutrient reuse (with hygienised urine). It will test whether Productive Sanitation Systems are accepted by the local population and if it provides an increase in food production, nutrition, income and health in the pilot communities. A comparative analysis with commercial chemical fertilizers will be carried out. The work is based on similar previous successful projects in Africa by CREPA and SEI.

Web sites:

Contact: Laurent Stravato, IFAD ; Anselme Vodhounessi CREPA ; Arno Rosemarin, SEI

India – Bangalore: Urine-treated Plants Yield Bigger Bananas

Bangalore, May 29: Nagasandra, a village 50 km from Bangalore in Doddaballapur taluk, isn’t any different from the hundreds of others surrounding it. But in a remote corner of this small village is a 1-acre banana plantation that has been part of a unique research project: a study on the effect of anthropogenic liquid waste on soil properties and crop growth. In lay-man terms, it is a study on how human urine can be used as fertilizer in agriculture.

G Sridevi, a second-year PhD student at the Department of Soil Sciences and Agricultural Chemistry, University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), GKVK, conducted a study on the effect of human urine on various crops under C A Srinivasa Murthy, professor at the department. Sridevi got the support of Prakash and his family, who own the plantation, to experiment on their field. However, her idea was met with resistance from villagers, who were unwilling to work with human waste. Along with an assistant, she adopted 150 banana plants of the 800 on Prakash’s plantation, and carried thousands of litres of urine from the village to the plantation.
Read More – Daijiworld

Bananas

India – 900 million litres of urine a day

India produces an estimated 900 million litres of urine every day, of which an ample volume is piddled in public spaces — on walls, inside parks, besides rail tracks, and, sometimes, even on the back seat of cabs. Men mostly do the mischief, a popular, intricate ritual with its own rules. First, there is the selection of a place, followed by a flurry of movements — a quick trot, the slight parting of legs (or a squat), the unzipping of trousers or hitching up of clothing with lightning speed, and then the familiar gushing sound.

Women, given the skewed definition of shame in our culture, are not at liberty to partake of such rituals. They do so, only when they are left without choice, or toilets.

Read MoreTelegraph India