Growing Food with Human Waste
Growing Food with Human Waste is Needed
A few projects are looking at growing food with human waste, including researchers from the Laboratoire Eau Environnement et Systemes Urbains just outside of Paris. They are switching out harmful synthetic fertilizers from being used on their wheat crops to urine-based fertilisers. And they are seeing positive results as the waste-based fertilizers provide organic matter that improves the soil.
Farmers in a small town in Tepetixtla, Mexico, use fertilizer made from human excrement to fertilize their crops. Growing food with human waste requires a composting process used to be hygienic and better for the soil and biodiversity. Moreover, growing food with human waste also saves water and reduces pollution because the excrement isn’t flushed into the sewage system.
In Vermont, the Rich Earth Institute runs a community program that turns human urine into fertilizer. The Institute conducts original research to examine the safety and efficacy of urine-derived fertilizers in agriculture. The program encourages community members to donate their urine to help them further their research. In 2021, 180 people donated their urine to the Rich Earth Institute.
In Kenya, the organization Sanivation developed a fecal sludge treatment plant. The plant can serve 10,000 people and produce 350 tons of fuel per month. This can be used as a cooking and industrial fuel, a sustainable option for charcoal made from fallen trees. Each plant ensures that water is safely managed, creates local employment, prevents environmental pollution and saves trees through their innovative biofuels.
In Switzerland, a company called Sanitation 360 developed a urine cassette that collects, contains, treats and concentrates the urine inside the toilet. The urine is then stabilized, dehydrated, and used directly as a fertilizer. The fertilizer includes the same type and concentration of plant nutrients in commercial fertilizers. By converting urine into a dried fertilizer, the flow of polluting plant nutrients to the environment can be minimized, which can help limit nutrient overload and dead zones in aquatic ecosystems.
Human excrement is one of the world’s most natural things, and it’s a shame that much of it is going to waste. While we may get queasy thinking about fertilizing our crops with human excrement, do we know what is in the currently used fertilizers? What is more natural and less environmentally damaging than something from our bodies? With more organizations and researchers finding new sanitary ways to use human excrement as fertilizers, this may become the new normal and the new way of food production.
Source Happy EcoJune 9, 2023