Brattleboro, Vermont-She was shrouded in mystery when Kate Lucy saw a poster in town inviting people to learn about what’s called pee cycling. “Why does someone pee with a jug and save it?” She wondered. “It sounds like such a wacky idea.”
She had to work on the night of the briefing, so she sent her husband, John Cellars, to relieve her curiosity. He returned home with a jug and a funnel.
Cellars learned that seven years ago the night before, human urine was full of the same nutrients that plants needed to thrive. In fact, it is much more common than number 2 and has few pathogens. Farmers usually apply these nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) to their crops in the form of chemical fertilizers. However, it comes with high environmental costs from fossil fuels and mining.
The Rich Earth Institute, the local non-profit organization that organized the session, was working on a more sustainable approach. Plants nourish us and we nourish them.
According to experts, such efforts are becoming more and more urgent. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exacerbates global fertilizer shortages, drives farmers into despair and threatens food supplies. Scientists also warn that it will become increasingly difficult to feed the growing world’s population in the world of climate change.
Now, after more than 1,000 gallons of donated urine, Lucy and her husband have many challenges, such as food security, water shortages and poor hygiene, by not wasting our waste. Is part of a global movement to deal with.
Initially, collecting urine in a jug was “a little sloppy,” Lucy said. But she was a nurse and he was her preschool teacher. Pee didn’t scare them. They moved from unloading a few containers each week at the organizer’s home to installing a large, professionally pumped tank in their home.
By the way, Lucy regrets using a normal toilet. “We make this wonderful fertilizer with our bodies and then wash it off with another precious resource, a gallon,” Lucy said. “It’s really wild to think about it.”
In fact, toilets are the largest source of water use in the house. According to the Environmental Protection Agency.. Weiser management can save a lot of water. Climate change is an urgent need as it exacerbates drought in places like the western United States.
It can also help with other serious problems. Poor sanitation systems (such as leaky septic tanks and dilapidated wastewater infrastructure) overload rivers, lakes and coastal waters with urinary nutrients. Outflow from chemical fertilizers exacerbates it.Result is Aoko Causes mass mortality of animals and other plants.
In one dramatic example, Florida’s Indian River Lagoon manatees starve to death after destroying seagrass on which sewage-fueled blue-green algae depend.
Rebecca Nelson, a professor of plant science and world development at Cornell University, said: “Urban and aquatic environments are heavily polluted and rural environments are depleted of what they need.
Beyond the practical benefits of turning urine into fertilizer, some are drawn to the transformative ideas behind the effort. By reusing what was once washed away, they say they are taking a revolutionary step towards tackling biodiversity and the climate crisis.
Chemical fertilizers are by no means sustainable. Commercial production of ammonia, which is mainly used as fertilizer, uses fossil fuels in two ways. First, as a hydrogen source required for the chemical process to convert nitrogen in the air to ammonia, and second, as a fuel to generate the required intense heat.According to one estimate, ammonia production is contributing 1-2 percent Phosphorus, another important nutrient in the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, is mined from rock and its supply is declining.
Across the Atlantic, in the countryside of Niger, another study on urine fertilization was designed to address more regional issues: how female farmers can increase yields of poor crops. mosquito? Often driven to the fields farthest from the town, women struggled to find and transport enough animal manure to replenish their soil. The chemical fertilizer was too expensive.
Teams, including Aminou Ali, a board member of the Federation of Maradi Farmers’ Unions in South-Central Niger, speculated that relatively fertile vineyards near people’s homes were being boosted by those who liberated themselves outside. They consulted with doctors and religious leaders about whether it was okay to fertilize with urine and got a green light.
“So let’s test that hypothesis,” Ali recalled.
Convincing work was required, but in the first year of 2013, 27 volunteers collected urine in a jug and applied it to plants along with animal manure. No one tried to risk the harvest just by peeing.
“The results we got were very good,” Ali said. The following year, about 100 more women were fertilizing, followed by 1,000.Of his team The study finally discovered The urine increased the yield of the staple food, parmilet, by about 30 percent, either with animal manure or alone. It may mean more food for the family, or the ability to sell their surplus in the market and get cash for other necessities.
It was taboo for some women to use the word urine, so they renamed it oga, which means “boss” in Igbo.
To pasteurize the pee, it stays in the jug for at least two months before the farmers apply it, For each plant.. If the ground is wet, use urine at full power, and if it is dry, dilute it 1: 1 with water to prevent nutrients from burning the crop. A scarf or mask is recommended to help with the odor.
Initially, the men were skeptical, said Hannatou Mussa, a farmer working with Ali on the project. But the results speak for themselves, and soon men also began to save urine.
“Now it’s a competition in the house,” says Dr. Mussa, who are fighting for extra urine in an attempt to convince their children to use their containers. She added that some dynamically awakened children began to demand money and candies in exchange for services.
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Children are not the only ones seeing financial potential. According to Ali, some young entrepreneurial farmers collect, store and sell urine, which has priced from about $ 1 to $ 6 in 25 liters over the last two years. It soared.
“You can go picking up urine, just like picking up a gallon of water or a gallon of fuel,” Ali said.
So far, research on urinary nutrient harvesting and packaging has not progressed sufficiently to resolve the current fertilizer crisis. For example, large-scale urine collection requires a transformation of the plumbing infrastructure.
Then there are the annoying factors that peecycling supporters face head-on.
“Human excrement is already used as a fertilizer for foods found in grocery stores,” said the Rich Earth Institute, which collects the urine of about 200 volunteers, including Lucy from Vermont, for research. Co-founder Kim Nace said. Applications on some local farms.
Already in use, it treats leftovers from wastewater plants known as biosolids, which contain only a small portion of the nutrients in urine. It can also be contaminated by industrial resources and potentially harmful chemicals from the home.
Nace argued that urine was a much better option.
Therefore, every spring, trucks with license plates labeled “P4 Farms” deliver pasteurized products on the hills around the Rich Earth Institute.
“Urine gives very strong results,” said Noah Hoskins, who applies it to the hayfields of Dummerston’s bunker farm. There he raises cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys. He said he wanted the Lich Earth Institute to pee more. “We are at the moment when the price of fertilizers has more than doubled and is actually representing some of the systems we are out of control of.”
But one of the biggest problems is that trucking urine, which is mostly water, from cities to distant farmlands is environmentally or economically meaningless.
To address this, the Rich Earth Institute is working with the University of Michigan on the process of producing disinfected urine concentrates. And at Cornell University, inspired by efforts in Niger, Dr. Nelson and his colleagues are trying to combine urinary nutrients into biochar, a type of charcoal made from feces in this case. (It’s important to remember poop, because poop, along with small amounts of phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen, contributes to carbon, another important part of healthy soil.)
Similar experiments and pilot projects are underway around the world.In Cape Town, South Africa, scientists New way Harvest urinary nutrients, Reuse the rest.. In Paris, authorities are planning to install toilets to divert urine in 600 new apartments to process urine and use it for nurseries and green spaces in the city.
Karthish Manthiram, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, California Institute of Technology, He said he wanted to see where the effort would lead. His own laboratory is trying to develop a clean process for synthesizing nitrogen from air. “All of this is a method that needs to be pursued, as it is too early to determine what will win,” said Dr. Mantilam.
What I do feel for sure is that current fertilizer acquisition methods are unsustainable and will be replaced.
Vermont’s Peacyclers describe the personal benefits of their work. Satisfaction with thinking that the nutrients in your body help heal the earth rather than hurt it.
The “hashtag PeeTheChange” is equipped with Julia Kavic, who directs education at the Rich Earth Institute. “Pun isn’t the only reason I’m in this area, but it’s definitely a perk,” she added.