It sounds almost outrageous to imagine that the vegetable you are enjoying in your salad was grown with urine, how can something so sweet be grown with something so icky.
But the truth remains that urine is not as bad as we think it is, if anything it is good for a lot of things.
Would it surprise you if we told you that many years ago, people used urine for many purposes like cleaning wounds, dying clothes and hair, now! here is the big one: urine was used for making bread.
We can tell you accurately that in some clime people still drink their own urine for medicinal purposes.
So, if urine could be used in making bread and medicine, how much more compost. Oh yes, urine is good for your compost because it is rich in nutrient and fasten the composting process. I will go ahead and answer all the questions that you have in mind.
Why Are People Suddenly Thinking of Urine in Compost?
There are two main factors driving this new fad of putting urine in your compost and they are:
- Cost: the cost of farming and gardening is relatively increased by the cost of inorganic fertilizer which is relatively high. The price of farm-fresh produce will go down if other cheaper source of nutrients for the soil is used and urine is one of those options.
Research has also shown that there is no significant difference between yield from crops grown with inorganic fertilizers and those grown from urine-in-compost mixture all things being equal.
- The environment: most of our urine enter water bodies like streams rivers and lake and pollute them so channeling this urine to your compost saves these water bodies. Secondly, the run-off of fertilizer from farms to our water bodies is of greater concern. So, the more urine-in-compost we use, the better for our world.
Is Urine Good for Compost?
Urine is a nutrient-rich liquid that can be added to compost or even directly to the soil to increase the soil’s fertility.
Basically, urine is composed of 95%”water, 2% urea which is the chemical compound that is broken down to release nitrogen in the form that plants can use it.
It also contains uric acid, calcium, potassium, phosphates, and other trace elements in different percentages that are good for plants. Hence when compost is mixed with urine, then these useful nutrients are added to the pile.
What Are the Benefits of Compost?
The benefit of compost is not just for the soil but to the entire ecosystem and they include:
- It serves as organic fertilizer to the soil.
- It serves as a conditioner for the soil in the sense that it increases the soil’s ability to provide nutrients for the plants.
- It increases the humus content of the soil which also add to the soil nutrients.
- It helps to increase the amount of beneficial microorganisms in the soil, these organisms can inhibit the growth of harmful pathogens in the soil
- It reduces the cost of farming/ gardening since compost is cheaper than inorganic fertilizer.
- It is Eco friendly, unlike inorganic fertilizer that releases toxins from the plant, the atmosphere and man.
Should I Add Urine to The Compost?
Since urine is good for composting then there is no reason why you shouldn’t add it to your compost. Below are some of the benefits of adding urine to your compost:
- Urine starts off the decomposition of compost materials.
- It is rich in nutrients that are needed by plants including nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus among others.
- It reduces the time it will take the compost to break down, hence composting time is reduced with the addition of urine.
- It increases the temperature of the compost heap which is one of the reasons why it speeds decomposition. An increase in temperature is beneficial especially on those cold winter days where the composting time is increase because of the cold.
- It generally improves the quality of compost that is gotten.
Is It Safe to Mix Urine in My Compost Heap?
The urine of a healthy person is almost sterile: meaning it does not harbor any disease-causing germ. However, if you are not sure of the sterility of the urine, then store the urine for months to reduce the risk of pathogens living in the urine before using it for making compost.
How Do I Collect This Urine for Making Compost?
Collecting urine for composting can be as simple as using as peeing in a jar and adding it to the compost or the use of urine-diverting toilets that separate urine from faeces. In collecting this urine, the following should be ensured:
- Avoid contamination of urine with faeces: while urine is almost sterile, faeces have a lot of pathogens that are not only harmful to the plants but also to the man.
- Avoid using the urine of a sick person: the urine of people with urinary tract infection, typhoid and the like should not be used in making compost for edible plants because the pathogen can be transmitted to the plant or the gardener making the compost.
- Avoid the urine of multiple people: the more the people supplying the urine for composting, the higher the probability of the urine being infected with pathogens.
Can I Add Urine Directly to My Soil?
You can add urine straight to your soil, but the only issue is that the salt content is too high and will hurt your plants. So, the best option is to dilute the urine with water so that one part of urine is mixed with 10-part water.
But for the urine going straight to the soil, it must not be contaminated with medicinal or hormonal substances from the person that peed.
This is not the case with using urine in compost because the heat in the compost is high enough to burn off any of this medicinal or hormonal residue.
Can You Put Too Much Urine in A Compost Heap?
Yes, while nitrogen and all other nutrients that are found in the urine are good, but when they are in excess, they become a problem for the plant. So, if the urine in the compost is too high, the nutrients might harm the plants especially the roots and leaves.
Secondly, adding too much urine will increase the salt content of the compost pile which will not be ideal for some of the beneficial organisms in the heap.
Too much urine which releases too much nitrogen can make the compost to be hot and quickly heat up and even combust which could pose a fire hazard.
If smoke is noticed coming out from the heap and the center looks a bit charred, this is a symptom of too much nitrogen which can be from the urine. This problem however is common only in very big compost piles like an industrial compost heap.
How Do I Know That the Urine in My Compost Is Too Much?
The stench from the compost heap can be telling you to go easy on the urine. Urine when broken down can yield ammonia which has a bad smell, this stench is like that of rotten eggs.
So, if you notice that the level of stink in your compost heaps is high, then stop with the urine as there is no balance between the green and the brown compost materials.
Does Urine Speed Up Composting?
Urine speeds up the composting process because it is an activator for many decomposition processes. If you notice that your compost is slow in decomposing, then the problem might be that the carbon to the nitrogen content of the heap is not balanced.
Since every compost heap needs carbon and nitrogen in the ratio 2: 1, when the nitrogen content is less, the composting process slows down because organisms in the compost use nitrogen to make the protein they need for reproduction while the carbon is their energy source.
Is Human Urine Okay for Compost?
Human urine is okay for composting once is added at the right time and quantity.
What more can I say? I conclude by reminding you that the relief we get when we pee is not the only benefit that there is to urine. Urine is beneficial to the plant, the soil, to man and his environment.
Many people want to go ‘organic’ because it is a very good option that is environmentally friendly and one of the ways we can do this is by growing our crops with compost that is mixed with manure, it is not only free, but also safe, sterile, and readily available.
So, when next you pee, think of the number of tomatoes or cabbage that could be growing on that liquid fertilizer that you are flushing away. That is really flushing money down the drain.
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Hope this article helped you determine if Urine is Good for Compost. You may also want to read our article on How to Get Rid of Mushrooms in Mulch.
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