Human urine could be successfully recycled to fertilise crops, according to civil engineering researchers at the University of Sydney.August 12, 2014 3:04am
Human urine could be successfully recycled to fertilise crops, according to civil engineering researchers at the University of Sydney.
Senior lecturer at the school of civil engineering and expert in environmental modelling Federico Maggi said there was growing evidence the use of human urine in agriculture was completely viable.
‘‘Our preliminary results indicate that human urine can be effectively used extensively in agriculture to reduce the production and use of mineral commercial fertilisers,’’ Dr Maggi said.
‘‘It contains the highest levels of nutrients among all the human excreta and yields considerable amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
‘‘These are the most essential nutrients for the growth of plants, and substantially all micro-nutrients.’’
The researchers believe the model they have developed could be used to increase the effectiveness of urine fertilisation as well as crop yield, substantially lowering costs in terms of supplied nutrient.
Fiona Tang studied the use of urine during her Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree and said human urine had complex compounds that could be broken down into simpler molecules that plants and crops liked as food sources.
‘‘Soybean, cabbage, cauliflower, for example, flourish with it,’’ Miss Tang said.
As part of her studies, Miss Tang conducted a survey into attitudes towards the use of human urine as a substitute for mineral fertiliser.
She found there was a high acceptance level to its application in agriculture.
‘‘Human waste has been used as organic fertiliser since ancient times. Its use in agriculture is still commonly practised in many areas around the world, including parts of South-East Asia and Africa,’’ Miss Tang said.
‘‘Over 70 per cent of the respondents in the survey were very positive towards the idea of applying human urine in agriculture and were willing to buy and consume crops grown by urine-based fertiliser.’’
She said extensive reliance on mineral fertiliser was consuming copious amounts of fossil energy and mineral resources.
‘‘Phosphorus, especially, is depleting and some studies have revealed the reserves of phosphate rock that are economically exploitable will only last for about 100 years at current extraction rates.
‘‘Recycling nutrients from human urine is a promising solution to the depletion of mineral resources.’’
The researchers said it would be possible to design a toilet system that separated human waste at the point of deposit.
‘‘Years ago society baulked at the idea of separating their household waste into recyclable and non-recyclable bins, now in Australia it is second nature,’’ Dr Maggi said.
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Beautiful weather greeted Tungamah residents for the 18th running of the Tungamah Lions Ten Thousand on Sunday.
When Keith and Marion Grumley and their growing family moved to Tatura on January 18, 1968, little did they know that it would be the start of a long and lasting connection to the town.
A snake was spotted this afternoon.
Rochester Rotary Club has celebrated its 50th birthday in style.
Sorting future of Campaspe pools
A theatre production with a difference is coming to Seymour.
Local athletes will go head-to-head with some of the best competitors from around the world in swimming and athletics in December.
District residents and visitors will be able to enjoy some of the region’s most beautiful private gardens on Sunday.
The 116th annual Cobram Show went off with a bang at the weekend, drawing in crowds from far and wide for two days of fun.
Tomorrow is a Total Fire Ban day in Deniliquin, meaning no fires can be lit in the open and all fire permits are suspended.
Fifty new full-time jobs will be created at Tatura with a multimillion-dollar expansion of the abattoirs expected to be announced today.
Remembering Australian political giant Gough Whitlam who once called on Benalla police to stop then Treasurer Frank Crean on his journey up the Hume to phone the PM.
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