QUESTION: Does urine speed up composting? My husband says he should pee in the compost pile and it will make better compost, but that’s disgusting! – Angela R
ANSWER: Yes, unbelievably, human urine is rich in nitrogen and should be added to compost regularly instead of flushing down the toilet. Peeing on your compost is good for both the compost you are creating, and the environment itself. Using chemical fertilizers to add nitrogen to the soil is bad for the environment and can be detrimental to our health as well. Widespread fertilizer use leads to algal blooms, oceanic dead zones, contaminated drinking water and several human health problems, and chemical fertilizer use could be cut down drastically if people started fertilizing their soil and compost with their own nitrogen-rich urine.
No, this is not a joke, as funny as it may sound. Peeing on your compost is not only good for the soil and good for the environment, but it can actually increase crop yields and replace fertilizers entirely. If you make biochar and pee on it, you are creating an all natural, long-lasting plant feeding system. Or use the ashes from your woodstove and pee on that instead of biochar, which is also a great plant food combination. If urine and ash or biochar can replace fertilizer entirely, imagine what urine and compost can do.
Recent field studies support the benefits of peeing on crops. A Nepalese study found that sweet peppers that are fertilized with human urine and compost yield the most fruits and tallest plants of the eight different fertilizer combinations used in the study.
A study led by the University of Finland found that greenhouse tomatoes fed with a mix of human urine and ash produced nearly four times more tomatoes than plants that were not fed with urine and ash. A single adult male could provide enough pee to fertilize 6,300 tomato plants per year, yielding 2.4 tons of tomatoes. If peeing on crops can replace the need for fertilizer, peeing on compost could do the same.
Nepalese farmers have been taking a leak on their crops for centuries. In Japan and China, human feces was used as a traditional fertilizer up until World War II in Japan and until the 1960’s in China, though using human manure is not recommended, thankfully, ugh.
Though there have been some concerns raised about possible issues with hormonal or pharmaceutical residues in human urine but compost, if maintained correctly, gets hot enough to burn off any potentially harmful residues present in human urine. Yet, despite the incredible results of recent studies, Americans are peeing away enough nitrogen to feed 12 million acres of corn per year.
So, go tinkle on a compost pile instead of in the toilet. Or pee in a bucket and toss it on your compost when you can. Just don’t flush it away. If you have a garden and a composting system, your golden liquid is basically liquid gold.