Bottle it up: we can use it! A scientific study on human urine as fertiliser

Saturday, November 22, 2014 - 10:30

This presentation showcases the results of a doctoral study done by G Sridevi under the guidance of Prof. C.A.Srinivasamurthy on the reuse of human urine in agriculture. "Studies on the effect of Anthropogenic Liquid Waste (ALW) on soil properties and crop growth" was a research project conducted at the Department of Soil Science and Agriculture ChemistryUniversity of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, which was supported by Arghyam. Anthropogenic Liquid Waste (ALW) implies the use of human urine.

Background:

Evidence indicates that the nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium (NPK) that is generated from human urine is wasted on a huge scale, and can be effectively utilised to meet the NPK needs of the agricultural sector in India. A number of studies in different parts of the world (India, Nepal, China, Japan) have demonstrated that ALW or human urine has been used successfully to grow crops, and that human faeces has been used as compost in the Netherlands and Africa.

The study:

With this background, this study tested the hypothesis that application of human urine as a nutrient source has a positive impact on  soil properties and plant growth. This hypothesis was tested on three crops - maize, banana and radish. A randomised study design was used and included:

  • A laboratory study that studied the impact of human urine on changes in soil parameters with varying human urine concentrations
  • A field based study that compared the effect of ALW on  maize and banana crops separately by treating crops with various dilutions of human urine, and comparing them with chemical fertilised crops and control plots
  • Potted plant study included experiments with radish plants where only nitrogen was supplied as a nutrient source through human urine. Doses were given in combination of dilution and splits.

Findings:

Analysis of data indicated that the use of human urine (in combination with gypsum) led to:

  • Healthier crop growth
  • Building of higher nutrient content and mass in the grain/fruit/root of the respective crops
  • Cost-benefit ratio was found to be marginally better than chemical fertilisers

View the presentation below:

Here are links to three films on this study:

Film 1: In this film, Dr Sreedevi describes the details of her doctoral study on the use of human urine in agriculture.

Film 2: In this film, Dr Sreedevi describes the details of Ecosan- protocol for safe handling and application of urine.

Film 3: This film captures the opinions of diverse people on the concept of Ecosan and the use of urine as fertilizer.

 

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