Liquid gold: Human pee could be the future of fertilizer

Ann Arbor, Michigan - We've got greener fertilizer, but maybe it's time to go yellow for the climate with a new twist on getting crops the nutrients they need to grow.

Golden showers bring May crop yields.
Golden showers bring May crop yields.  © REUTERS

Research projects from University of Michigan's Dr. Nancy Love and a team in France are working to turn human pee into fertilizer for crops, in a bid to make our food have less of an impact on the environment, according to Euronews.

The basic idea is to collect our pee before it gets into waste treatment plants, take it to crop fields, and replace conventional fertilizer.

Urine is mostly water with some salts but also a little chemical called urea, which has plenty of nitrogen in it, plus there's some phosphorus too. Those are two nutrients that plants love to chow down on.

Since pee is already fairly clean and doesn't carry disease, apart from letting it sit for a bit, not much is needed to get it ready for use on our plants.

New types of toilets can actually separate the tinkle-sprinkles to be stored,and in many parts of the world, people are fine with food that was fertilized that way.

This new approach still has some obstacles, like getting the golden showers to the fields, and dropping price so that it isn't too spendy to collect and prepare the pee for use.

But using urine as fertilizer isn't really a crazy idea, since people have been farming with animal waste for millennia. And we're just another kind of animal, at the end of the day.

Using our pee to feed crops could easily be another piece of the climate solutions puzzle.

Cover photo: REUTERS

More on the topic Environment and Climate: