Can You Use Urine to Fertilize Plants?

Updated on February 9, 2018
Joe Macho profile image

Zach's writing ranges from matters of gardening, cooking, aquariums, and fish to more niche topics like coin collecting.

A Lush Garden Starts With a Little Urine

Okay, I'll admit that it's not the most attractive catch phrase, but at least it's very factual. If you can manage to work past the squeamishness factor, all sorts of possibilities are unlocked—one of which is the great natural fertilizer contained in every drop of urine. Your garden vegetables will absolutely love what you have to give. Maybe that's a bit sensual, but seriously, vegetable gardens thrive with the use of a urine fertilizer. Let's face it. Urine is just too valuable to be flushed away! If you're willing to experiment, stick around to learn how you can benefit from using your own urine for plants and gardens.

Don't Worry. It's Sanitary!

In fact, human urine is sterile, granted it is taken from a healthy individual. A study conducted by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found urine to be a hygienic means of plant fertilization. It was also uncovered that urine fertilized plants produced more biomass and exhibited faster growth rates compared to plants receiving a chemical based fertilizer. So when it comes down to it, it's really sad that urine use is limited by social taboos.

Urine vs. Plain Water
Urine vs. Plain Water | Source

Benefits and Uses

  • Natural Fertilizer - Human urine is composed mainly of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. It just so happens that these are also the three macro-nutrients required by plant life. So, what's considered waste by many is actually a great food for plants. With a NPK level of 18:2:5, urine is an optimal fertilizer for plants during their vegetative stage of growth.[1]
  • Compost Booster - If you're in the business of starting a compost pile, treating a pile that won't 'heat up', or getting your compost started after a cold winter, urine is the trick. In every situation above, the addition of urine will boost bacterial colonies by adding much needed nitrogen. The regular addition of urine to compost piles will ensure that the pile remains healthy and hot.
  • Cost Efficient - Since urine directly replaces commercial fertilizers, you'll instantly see the savings. Urine is completely free, and with each individual producing an average 1-1.5L per day[1], there's plenty to be had. With a 100% savings, the value of urine just can't be beat.

Corn treated with urine on right. Plain water on left.
Corn treated with urine on right. Plain water on left. | Source

How to Use Urine as Fertilizer

  1. Urine Fertilizer - For garden plants in the ground or in raised flower beds, dilute one part urine with ten parts water. For container plants and vegetables, dilute the one part urine with twenty parts water. Plants in containers have a much smaller root space and therefore need to be diluted further to prevent root burn.
  2. Compost Booster - A full strength urine may be administered to the compost pile every time it is turned. Save a day's worth of urine and add it to the pile. If you're a guy, just drop fly and do your business. Make sure you're neighbors aren't watching though!

Things to Keep in Mind

  • Fertilize with the urine solution at a maximum of once a week. The freshest urine is the best.
  • Just for good measures, stop administering the urine fertilizer two weeks before harvesting food crops.
  • Never use urine that is compromised. The urine should only be taken from a healthy individual with a relatively good diet. Medicines, hormones, preservatives, and bacteria from urinary tract infections can all show up in urine. The better you treat yourself, the better fertilizer you'll produce.
  • Not every lady should donate. Those on birth control shouldn't participate. Higher levels of estrogen can cause a lot of unintended issues with the environment.

Final Word

Urine for plants is one topic that I'd never write about without having not tried it myself. So, what do I think of using urine as fertilizer? I think it's great. I'm absolutely in love with the fact that it's free and very effective. Having said that, I'm sure that my indoor garden containing Swiss chard, garlic, green onions, carrots, radishes, mint and dill would also chime in its appreciation, if only it could speak! I've used urine for over a year now and plan to continue with its use long into the future. Thank you for reading my article. I would be glad to entertain any questions, comments or suggestions that you may have!

References

  1. Pradhan, Surendra K., Anne-Marja Nerg, Annalena Sjoblom, Jarmo K. Holopainen, and Helvi Heinonen-Tanski. "Use of Human Urine Fertilizer in Cultivation of Cabbage (Brassica oleracea)––Impacts on Chemical, Microbial, and Flavor Quality."Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 55.21 Sept. (2007): 8657-63. Web. 23 Jan. 2012. <http://www.nku.edu/~longa/classes/calculus_resources/docs/cabbage.pdf>.

Questions & Answers

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      • gardener den profile image

        Dennis Hoyman 

        4 years ago from Southwestern, Pennsylvania

        Great Hub! Didn't know this. Glad to learn this. Gardener Den.

      • profile image

        TexasTiger 

        5 years ago

        Using human waste including urine has been a farm practice for thousands of years---when there was no inducstrial fertilizer.

        A question about which kind of vegetable is more suitable for using urine. I heard that nitrogen will promote growth of leaves. Since urine is 18:2:5, it's not good for fruit trees or vegetables like radishes, carrots, etc. Please comment on this topic.

      • christollesseb profile image

        christollesseb 

        6 years ago from UK ME ASIA

        A Great Hub! A real eye opener for most people. Really useful, interesting & splashes of humour in there too! Certainly a back to nature project & nothing to feel yuk about. Perfect example of recycling! Voted across & UP! Cheers, Christo.

      • profile image

        guest 1 

        6 years ago

        urine as fertilizer is great because its free and effective i use it to grow lettuce and tomato in hydrophonic setup. its like just waiting for your free veggies....

      • Joe Macho profile imageAUTHOR

        Zach 

        6 years ago from Colorado

        Catalystsnstars - Urine is a great addition to sustainable living! When it comes down to it, both male and female urine collect bacteria through the urethra when exiting. The process is never 100% sterile, but still very safe to use. I've used both my own urine and my girlfriend's urine to fertilize the garden. Just make sure you're healthy, not on hormonal birth control or any medicines and you'll be fine!

        I'd still exploit your boyfriend though. Collection for him is going to be easier. lol. Take it easy!

      • catalystsnstars profile image

        catalystsnstars 

        6 years ago from Land of Nod

        This is a great idea for sustainable living and gardening, especially when fertilizer is so expensive. It never even occurred to me as I thought it was only male urine that was sterile due to it going straight through the urethra. This as oppose to females, which doesn't.

        That's fifth grade health class for ya, let me know if i'm wrong. Then i'd have to exploit my boyfriend for his Pee.

      • Joe Macho profile imageAUTHOR

        Zach 

        6 years ago from Colorado

        Sue Adams - Alright! My first urine convert! Seriously though, I agree with you on the fact that urine was designed for plant fertilization. Urine has all the macro-nutrients needed, as well as a host of micro-nutrients that boost plant production. It's good stuff! Keeping an open mind is freedom from the chemical industry. Take it easy!

      • Sue Adams profile image

        Juliette Kando FI Chor 

        6 years ago from Andalusia

        I'll definitely start fertilising with my own urine from now on. If you think about it, maybe our urine was designed for land fertilisation in the first place, before we started polluting our own water supply with it. I'm all for going back to the roots of nature and boycotting the chemicals industry.

        Thanks for a very useful Hub Joe.

      • Joe Macho profile imageAUTHOR

        Zach 

        6 years ago from Colorado

        CMerritt - There's always something new to learn. Glad I could show you. I say go right ahead and pee on those flowers, but don't splash the leaves and do water afterwards just to dilute it! If you're looking to pee and walk away, try a tree or shrub, they'll appreciate a full strength urine. Thanks for reading and take it easy!

      • Joe Macho profile imageAUTHOR

        Zach 

        6 years ago from Colorado

        Peggy W - Ha, I wish you the best of luck trying to collect from your dog. I've read plenty of stories as well where the drinking of Urine has helped keep people from dying. If it's okay for consumption, it's quite alright for the garden. Thanks for reading.

        Robie Benve - I'm glad I could bring this information to your attention! Urine is really great and to answer your questions:

        1. As long as you dilute your urine with 20-25 parts of water, indoor plants won't smell. The solution is still strong enough to fertilize, but diluted enough to never smell.

        2. This one made me laugh, but what they don't know won't hurt them, right? If you know it's safe, then it's all good!

        phoenix2327 - Hey, urine is just not for everyone! Thanks for at least having the guts to read! I appreciate it.

      • CMerritt profile image

        Chris Merritt 

        6 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

        GET OUT!

        this goes to show you, you can learn something every day!!!

        So, If I pee on my wifes flowers in the backyard...it is a good thing, right?

        Very interesting...and voted that way.

        Chris

      • phoenix2327 profile image

        Zulma Burgos-Dudgeon 

        6 years ago from United Kingdom

        While I'm not doubting the benefits of urine, I don't think I will ever get past the squeamishness factor and social taboo.

        Good hub though. Very interesting.

      • Robie Benve profile image

        Robie Benve 

        6 years ago from Ohio

        wow... interesting. A couple of things came to my mind while reading this:

        1. when you use it to fertilize indoor plants, do they get smelly? (like in the dirt)

        2. not a conversation to have when you are proudly serving salad from your garden to dinner guest. lol

        Thanks for the info! never heard of it before.

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 

        6 years ago from Houston, Texas

        Amazing! Now...if I could just get our little dog to cooperate and do his "business" into a recepticle for collection. I KNOW that I will never get my husband to save his for the compost bin. Ha!

        I do know that urine is sterile when first produced. I have read about people who have been stranded in the desert and actually survived reusing it for hydration.

        Interesting hub!

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