Through research and education, the Rich Earth Institute encourages the conversion of human urine into fertilizer. They argue that diverting human waste in this way can save water, reduce pollution, and provide farmers with a sustainable alternative to synthetic fertilizers.
according to rich earth, an adult produces between 378 and 567 liters of urine each year. Although the majority of households excrete this waste, the organization wants the public to recognize urine as a rich source of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, the nutrients necessary for food production. I’m here.
Many farmers use synthetic fertilizers to support yields. However, these chemicals can harm the environment, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has shown that excess synthetic nitrogen can harm the environment. thinning of the ozone layerpollute drinking water and deplete aquatic ecosystems of oxygen.
Since 2012 Rich Earths test showed Fields fertilized with urine can produce yields comparable to fields treated with synthetic fertilizers. research It also shows that the urine they use is safe to apply to crops, explains Rich Earth co-founder Kim Nace. “you can [call it] Sanitized urine, because that’s what we really do. We pasteurize our urine…so it’s disinfected and safe. ”
Nace adds that the fertilizer is also monitored for trace amounts of pharmaceutical compounds. “I eat those parcels of lettuce [treated with recycled urine]Because the residual levels of these chemicals are “not a significant factor.”
But others may be more cautious. That is why, through a spin-off company of Rich Earth, bright water toolthey are working to further remove these compounds from the final product through a process of charcoal filtration.
Recycling this waste also benefits the environment and helps keep our waterways clean. “By collecting urine and keeping it out of wastewater, we can contain pharmaceuticals before they reach sensitive aquatic ecosystems and water sources.” guide It is intended to help others start their own urinary conversion program.
Ten years after Rich Earth was first launched as a community-scale urine nutrient recovery project, “it’s just blossoming,” Nace tells Food Tank. “We saved a lot of water. He has over 200 people who donate his urine and he has 9 local farmers who use the fertilizers we create.”
Nace acknowledges that there is a “bad factor” that many people can experience when first introduced to process thinking. However, she believes that education can help the general public embrace urine recycling.
“We have a massive educational outreach program,” Nace told Food Tank. “We go to school with our kids, colleges and universities have us attend some of the classrooms. And when people hear about it, they stay with us.
Hear the full conversation with Kim Nace on “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg” on how Brightwater Tools supports Rich Earth’s mission to help people overcome their aversion to waste collection Hear about the role of education and the benefits this practice brings to farmers. .
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Photo credit: Daniel Lloyd Blunk-Fernández, Unsplash