View Full Version : Urine Collection For Fertiliser

02-02-12, 11:51 AM
I find this very interesting & surely, quite doable :)


As experts warn about about the world's dwindling reserves of phosphorus and water, Dena Fam has a radical solution.

A urine diversion toilet offers the user two options. (Source: Dena Fam)

A urine diversion toilet offers the user two options. (Source: Dena Fam)
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Map: University of Technology, Sydney 2007

It could easily be argued that 'taking a leak' is the most apt description of going to the toilet. Because when we empty urine from our bladders, we are literally leaking an important resource into the waste stream which could otherwise be put to good use.

But it hasn't always been so. From Greece all the way across to Asia, ancient cultures were heavily reliant on urine to provide nutrients to fertilise their crops.

It may have a bit of a 'yuck' factor, but the truth is, urine is virtually sterile when it leaves the body and contains all the essential ingredients for plant growth, including nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus.

And our non-renewable phosphorus is fast running out, with most sources expected to be depleted within the next two generations. We need to find new supplies, and it could be argued that urine represents a viable source of organic fertiliser which could contribute to global food security.

Diverting urine from the waste stream could also solve another problem. By removing urine from effluent discharges, we would reduce water pollution and cut down on the nutrients which cause algal blooms in waterways.

Aussie trials

I have been part of the UTS team running trials to assess the viability of urine diversion technology (UDT). This involves capturing and separating urine in special toilets and waterless urinals, storing it for a period of time to kill off bacteria and then reusing the nutrients in the urine as fertiliser.

UDT has been trialled in Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and China with variable success. Now, Australian water authorities and research institutes are also interested in exploring its potential to sustainably manage sewage. For example, UDT has been used at the Currumbin Eco-village in Queensland, the Kinglake West community in Victoria and the University of Technology (UTS) in Sydney.

Our Sydney trial offered people at the university the chance to use specially designed urine diversion toilets, which allow the separation of urine and faeces.

If urine collection is to be widely accepted by society, we need to make sure people feel comfortable before we convert traditional flushing toilets to UD toilets.

Our toilet users made hundreds of comments about their experiences, giving us important feedback on the acceptability of UD toilets. The comments ranged from rather concerned: "the new toilet is physically smaller than other older toilets and for larger users it might be a problem" to very enthusiastic: "Very cool! Adrenaline rush!"

We've also had some success using urine in plant growth, and our pot plant trials show that the nutrients in urine are an effective complete fertiliser.

At the same time, we need to do more research to discover what microbes and pharmaceuticals are present in urine, and how these might affect soil and plants.

The trials have benefited from expertise and feedback from our collaborators, including councils, regulators, water authorities, property developers, Australia's nursery and gardening industry, and an Australian toilet manufacturer. Involving all these people from the beginning of the project has contributed to a lively conversation about the potential of urine diversion on a large scale in Sydney.

There are plans for industry and government to collaborate, to look at what it would take to collect all of Sydney's urine and re-use it for agricultural production in a closed loop cycle of nutrient recovery.

The next stage of the project is to implement these systems in a more commercial context, where there's potential to learn even more about the technological potential for phosphorus recovery and reuse.

We can't live without phosphorus. It is essential for the existence of all life and many important functions in the body — to put it bluntly, if we don't have phosphorus, we don't have life. Our ancestors knew how valuable urine was — that's why they named it Number One.

02-02-12, 12:54 PM
That’s why our toilet waste goes via the pit to the middle of the paddock. It gets lots of sunshine and makes the grass grow.

02-02-12, 01:30 PM
so the grass grows. then the sheep or cows eat it. then we eat them. then we send it back to the pit again , fred ?
interesting cycle !

02-02-12, 08:56 PM
Taking a pee on your lemon tree is a very old gardener's practice.

03-02-12, 05:03 PM
supposed to be good for chilblains too so i am told !

03-02-12, 06:26 PM
Awaiting Autmns' comment when she gets back on here :D

... Taff
06-02-12, 01:12 PM
I am all for making use of wee wees and poos.

I am not in favour of drinking recylced water due to the residues of medications that recycled water holds.

The other week I brought home a pile of wet sawdust for the compost heap and without thinking, put some in the CH and some in the worm farm. Killed my worms. Again. Weeweeified sawdust is probably not suitable for compost heaps due to its being sterile and it's act of sterilising. So no more of it for the compost or the worm farm but yes, I want to use it where I should use it. It's something that I have to think through. (And read other's thoughts.)

We waste so much (no pun intended). We need to use it in the best way possible.

06-02-12, 05:10 PM
If you pee on your horse's girth area it toughens up the skin too. Axemen used to pee on their hands to toughen the skin up.

Google urine therapy.

06-02-12, 06:35 PM
it was possibly the acid and ammonia which gave your worms curry.
the anoxic tendency of decomposing wood material isnt overly good for soil organisms either.
poor wormies

I would just like to take this opportunity to say thank you to ...Taff
for all the hilarious moments she brings to my computer.
its gems like these
"I am all for making use of wee wees and poos."
that brighten my day.
Thankfully they occur day after day,
so many gems,
thank you ...Taff

*gawf gawf wees and poos gawf gawf*

06-02-12, 06:42 PM
If you pee on your horse's girth area it toughens up the skin too. Axemen used to pee on their hands to toughen the skin up.

Google urine therapy.

vinegar is much nicer and just as effective

"urine therapy" vs ammonia and acid!
its because its so irritating that the skin thickens up