Pee is powerful stuff. It has been used to make false teeth, drinking water, brain cells, electricity, and yes, even whiskey and beer. Talk about a closed system! Urine is also great for growing plants, due to its rich nitrogen and phosphorus content. Researchers at University of Michigan are investigating best practices for application of urine as fertilizer on a large scale. In order for urine to be applied to crops safely, the team aims to identify pathogens and determine ways in which they may be eliminated. “A few questions we have are: What contaminants are applied onto the fields with the fertilizer, where do they go, and how can we get rid of the concerning contaminants before they are applied?” says Rebecca Lahr, one of the researchers in the Environmental and Civil Engineering Department at University of Michigan. The mass disposal of liquid waste down the drain is not only a missed opportunity for sustainable agriculture, it is damaging to the environment. Algae also love nitrogen and phosphorus and the resulting algal blooms often cause mass marine mortality events and shellfish poisoning. By implementing peecycling on a large scale, we will gain a powerful agricultural tool while eliminating a major source of water pollution.
Image via Michigan Engineering